Things were a little more calm on the Kentucky football front last week, as opposed to the previous week when Coach Joker Phillips had to address the suspension of quarterback Mike Hartline.
The only news Saturday was the arrival of two players who will enroll in January, linebacker Tim Patterson and quarterback Maxwell Smith. Phillips also introduced new assistants Rick Minter and Steve Pardue to the media before the Mississippi Valley State-UK basketball game.
Phillips was also in good spirits about two of his players, receiver Randall Cobb and linebacker Danny Trevathan, being named first-team All-Americans earlier in the week.
"Everything's good," Phillips said Saturday as the Cats resumed practicing after finals week.
Patterson and Smith won't be allowed to go to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, but they can participate in five practices leading up to the bowl. UK will practice until Wednesday, take a six-day holiday break, and then return to Lexington for five more practices beginning Dec. 30. The Wildcats will depart for Birmingham on Jan. 3 and hold their first practice there the following day.
Patterson and Smith will practice this week, head home for Christmas, then return in January for the start of classes and winter workouts.
"It gives them a chance to get acclimated," Phillips said.
Patterson, who played at Central High School in Louisville, originally signed with UK last February but came up just short of qualifying for freshman eligibility. He's now set academically but has to get back on track physically because he's recovering from a knee injury suffered late in his high school senior season. Patterson didn't dress for the practice and instead focused on conditioning. Phillips estimated Patterson's knee to be at about 85 percent.
"I'm working on getting my quad and hamstring back stronger," Patterson said. "I feel like I could play now, but the doctors want me to wait and rehab a little more. I don't want to rush it and end up getting hurt again and have to sit out another whole year, so I'll just take it slow."
Smith was listed as Max Smith when he committed to UK but, at his mother's urging, will go by Maxwell.
"My mom told me, 'When you get there, make sure they call you Maxwell because that's your name,' " Smith said.
Smith, who is from California, took part in drills on Saturday and, while it's way too early to make an evaluation on him, he does have good size at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. Phillips said he likes the way the ball comes out of Smith's hands.
"He comes from a state that's produced a lot of quarterbacks," Phillips said. "He throws the ball pretty well but, again, it's the first day."
Smith was asked by the UK staff to delay his enrollment, or "grayshirt," after throwing for about 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns with just two interceptions as a senior at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, Calif. While sitting out, Smith worked at a local UPS facility and received individual instruction from former NFL quarterback Erik Kramer.
"Erik has helped me tremendously," Smith said. "I know a lot of guys might come in and have trouble with fundamentals, but he really helped me with my footwork and making sure I'm reading all coverages. I'm not all there yet, but I've had a good head start working with Erik."
Hartline at practice
Former UK quarterback Mike Hartline made his first appearance at practice since he was suspended for his final game after being arrested and charged with alcohol intoxication and disorderly conduct.
"Mike's a part of this football family, and we don't turn our backs on our guys," Phillips said. "He felt like he wanted to try and come out and help some of the young guys."
Smith said Hartline was a big help to him during his first official practice.
"Words can't describe it; it's huge," he said. "He was helping with a bunch of things, reads and stuff and a lot of things guys don't really learn in high school."
More recruits in town
UK hosted several prospects for the second week in a row, and several attended Saturday's practice, including Boyle County linebacker Lamar Dawson. Also present were Marcus Caffey, a three-star running back from Atlanta who has offers from UK, Arkansas, Purdue, Illinois and South Carolina; Antonio Poole, a three-star linebacker from Cincinnati who holds more than a dozen offers; and Josh Clemons, a three-star running back from Fayetteville, Ga., whose offers include UK, Maryland, Northwestern, Wake Forest and Cincinnati.
Also on hand were a pair of prospects who have already committed to UK:
St. Xavier defensive back Daylen Hall and Bryan Station offensive lineman Darrian Miller. Farrington Huguenin, a 2010 signee, was also in attendance. Huguenin didn't qualify this past season but is getting his grades in order so he can enroll in 2011.
Joker addresses facilities
UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart went over his outline for football-facility upgrades earlier this month, upgrades that would include renovations to Commonwealth Stadium and a multi-purpose recruiting room. Phillips was asked about that Saturday.
"We've got good working facilities," Phillips said. "There's a couple of things we have in the plans to upgrade our stadium."
Last week, the Wildcats hosted recruits in the Nutter Field House, but a multipurpose recruiting room would give the program an ideal place to take recruits when they come and visit.
"It'll be a little better than what we've had, but we've had a chance to bring them (to Nutter Field House) and show them this great facility," Phillips said. "But for us to be able to walk them through here and then take them to another facility that's nice and comfortable for them" is a plus."
Phillips pointed out that there have been several upgrades since he returned to Lexington in 2003, which included new locker rooms, new practice fields at the Nutter Training Facility, and new meeting rooms.
"We've done a lot in the eight years we've been here," Phillips said.
"The thing is, every year, you've got to continue to try and upgrade the facilities, and we've done that."
Sunday final open practice
UK's workout Sunday is the final pre-bowl practice that will be open to the media and public. The Wildcats will practice from 2:30 to 4:25 p.m. in the Nutter Field House.
Chip Cosby covers UK football for the Herald-Leader. This article includes his opinions and observations. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com