Kentucky football freshmen poised to contribute immediately

Phillips wants them focusing on football

jsmith3@herald-leader.comAugust 6, 2011 

The University of Kentucky's freshman football players are OK with being seen on Saturdays even if that means they're not going to be heard from anytime soon.

This season, UK Coach Joker Phillips has made the freshmen off limits to the media until after the first game of the season Sept. 1.

"They've got a lot on their plate right now," Phillips said at the team's annual Media Day on Friday.

"We will play more freshmen than we have in the past — especially at the skill positions — and I just think that those guys just need to be focused on football, getting themselves ready."

At their one media opportunity before being placed on mute, several freshmen from the class ranked No. 31 by one recruiting service said they have high expectations about what they can do for Kentucky.

"As a class, we could make a huge impact," freshman running back Josh Clemons said, "but it depends on how hard we're willing to work."

Fellow freshman Daryl Collins, who picked UK over Alabama, agreed that this class could make a difference.

"We can make a big impact," the 5-foot-11 wide receiver said. "We've got to work. It isn't going to be easy in the SEC because there's speed everywhere, but we're going to try."

Collins, who has become tight with former Cats standout Randall Cobb, said he looks forward to trying to fill the big cleats of UK's Mr. Do Everything.

The coaches are "trying us out at a whole bunch of stuff," he said. "Kick returns, punt returns, the Wildcat (formation). ... It feels great because you know you have a chance to make a big impact by doing all of that stuff."

DeMarco Robinson, a 5-foot-10 freshman receiver from Georgia, said he and his classmates are up for the challenges that have been issued by the coaches and upperclassmen.

"Nobody's stressing about it," he said.

"We're a pretty talented group, actually," Robinson said. "I know Coach is going to give us a chance to prove ourselves and most of us will impress him, if not all of us."

Former Lexington Christian standout Zach West said he might not see the field much this season with such an experienced offensive line returning, but he's excited about the potential of some of the wide receivers and running backs in his class.

"There's a lot of skill guys that you'll see playing immediately," he said. "They're really, really good. They can definitely play right now."

Quick hits

■ Signees Bubba Tandy and David Washington will go to junior college.

■ Freshman wide receiver Nile Daniel is finishing some academic requirements, but Phillips feels "comfortable and confident that should get done." The coach expects to know for sure in four or five days.

■ Travaughn Paschal wasn't signed by UK, but he enrolled and was admitted last week. Phillips said the linebacker from the Baltimore area by way of Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia will go through training camp and will sit out this year and have three years of eligibility remaining.

■ Senior defensive tackle Mark Crawford is still working his way back onto the team after some disciplinary issues, Phillips said.

"It's day to day," Phillips said. "We'll figure it out as we go. Trust isn't gained in a day. He's got time, and we'll give him time. We understand that young kids make mistakes, but we're giving him time."

■ After a minor car accident last week, defensive tackle Donte Rumph will sit out of camp for a couple of days. Phillips said he had a concussion last week.

■ Listed by their head coach as "day to day" during camp due to assorted injuries are Jake Lanefski, Mister Cobble, Gene McCaskill, James Elliott and Raymond Sanders.

McCaskill specifically will work out every other day until coaches are comfortable with him going full speed after numerous knee issues.

Fan Day on Saturday

Kentucky's annual Fan Day will be Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, with the gates opening at 5 p.m.

The evening will feature a two-hour practice with drills by the offensive, defensive and special-teams units, starting at 6. That practice will be followed by an autograph session and fireworks at 9:30 p.m.

A temporary sound system will be used for the event since UK's new one is still being installed.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service