The University of Kentucky football team completed its second practice of fall camp in front of about 6,000 fans as a part of Fan Day festivities on Saturday. With the players confined to jerseys, helmets and shorts, Coach Joker Phillips used Saturday's workout to help get the newcomers acclimated. UK will have two more practices in shoulder pads before going in full gear on Tuesday.
"With today and the next couple of practices, there's more teaching," Phillips said. "We had a split practice (Friday) but with all of us together (Saturday), we wanted to slow it down and teach because the freshmen's heads are spinning."
There wasn't a lot of action in the trenches, but Phillips likes what he sees so far from freshman cornerbacks Jerrell Priester, Dale Trimble and Eric Simmons. Phillips said he's going to have to get used to Priester's laid-back approach.
"His demeanor and mannerisms killed me; he's just so nonchalant," Phillips said. "But you know who else was like that? Trevard Lindley. I don't care as long as you're making plays. We got to continue to push him because he's not used to the speed of practices."
After dropping a potential interception from Mike Hartline, sophomore linebacker Qua Huzzie stepped in front of a Morgan Newton pass in the flat intended for Anthony Kendrick and got the pick.
Phillips tried not to talk about Huzzie's picks too much after Huzzie asked him before practice about returning kicks.
"I told him he had terrible hands, and after the first one, I'm like, 'See?" Phillips said. "The second one he comes and freaking intercepts it so I'm sure I'll hear about that."
Other freshmen of influence
Phillips was asked at Media Day about freshmen who could make an immediate impact, and the first name that came out was kicker Joe Mansour, who will be given every opportunity to win the place-kicking job.
UK also needs help at linebacker, and Phillips said Avery Williamson was a workout warrior over the summer.
"He's a weight-room freak," Phillips said. "He's a guy that did over 20 reps of 225 in the weight room. The strength and conditioning coach has said with all the sprints, he was winning a lot of them, and the guy is blessed with an unbelievable body, great work ethic."
Phillips said running backs Raymond Sanders, Brandon Gainer and Miles Simpson will all be given looks. Senior running back Derrick Locke was particularly impressed with Sanders over the summer.
"He's picking things up quicker than I ever did; he picks it up like it's nothing," Locke said. "If you know what you're doing, you play fast. If he can do that in fall camp, he'll have a chance to get evaluated and see if he can help us."
Locke: 'I'm still the fastest'
Locke has always been proud of his title as the fastest player on the team, as he and former tailback Alfonso Smith went back and forth over it the past few years.
A new challenger could be on the horizon in freshman Jerrell Priester. Priester, a 5-foot-9, 170-pounder from Ulmer, S.C., has been clocked at 4.29 in the 40-yard dash and could see playing time at cornerback and in the return game.
Locke said he isn't worried and has already put Priester on notice.
"I heard him talking about running and I told him if you want to run we can go right now," he said.
Locke did acknowledge that Priester can scoot, though.
"His speed is for real; he can run," Locke said. "I'm still the top dog, but he can fly. If he gets the ball and goes around the corner, they better watch out."
Smith, Wyndham win cornhole tourney
Linebackers coach Chuck Smith and defensive end Taylor Wyndham won the annual UK cornhole tournament held at Joker Phillips' house last Sunday. If past winners are any indicator, Wyndham, a 6-4, 242-pound sophomore defensive end, could be in for a big year. Andre Woodson took home the title in both 2006 and 2007, and Randall Cobb won it the past two years.
Kentucky picked up its 17th known commitment for 2011 last week from Cleveland (Ga.) safety Ashley Lowery. The 6-1, 190-pound Lowery is a three-star recruit on Rivals.com and also had offers from Illinois, Air Force, UAB, Western Carolina and Eastern Kentucky.
The Wildcats' 2011 class is filling up quickly, and it's unclear how many scholarships will be available. UK currently has 84 scholarship players and will only lose 10 scholarship seniors after this season.
Kentucky will hold scholarships for two prospects with local and family connections: four-star Boyle County linebacker Lamar Dawson and Indianapolis offensive lineman Nick Martin. Martin is the son of former UK letterman Keith Martin.
Catspause.com also reported this week that UK leads for Dwayne Montgemory, a 6-5, 265-pound defensive end from Dillard H.S. in Fort Lauderdale (Fla.).
Cats still have scholarship for 2010
UK still has room to add one more scholarship player this fall. Linebacker signee Tim Patterson is still seeking to gain NCAA eligibility and could take the last one. Phillips said that another linebacker signee, Jabari Johnson, was close to qualifying.
The Wildcats are also in the mix for Elliott Porter, a three-star defensive tackle from Marrero (La.). Porter signed with LSU in February, but when he reported for fall camp on Wednesday, he was told by LSU Coach Les Miles that they had run out of scholarships, and he was asked to grayshirt and re-enroll in January. Porter is also considering Tennessee and several schools. If he winds up in Lexington, his 6-4, 280-pound frame could provide much-needed help at defensive tackle.
Chip Cosby covers UK football for the Herald-Leader. This article includes his opinions and observations. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.