UK football notebook: Freshman Faulkner pulling cram sessions

Herald-Leader Staff WriterAugust 7, 2011 

Even though school is not in session for another 17 days, freshman Glenn Faulkner is getting in his fair share of cram sessions.

Perhaps Kentucky's most highly touted freshman, Faulkner spent the summer getting over a few eligibility hurdles instead of being able to study co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter's complex defensive scheme.

So the safety from East Saint Louis, Ill., has had less time to immerse himself in the system. But he doesn't expect it to slow him down.

"It's kind of been difficult, but my teammates and coaching staff have really been helping me catch up," Faulkner said at UK's Media Day on Friday morning.

Faulkner said he considers himself a student of the game and hopes that will help him get acclimated faster.

"I'm a thinker," he said. "I'm a thinker on the field."

Coach Joker Phillips agreed with Faulkner's self evaluation.

"We think he's a smart kid," Phillips said. "He's been in the film room a couple days that he's been here trying to learn. Same thing when he came here for the spring game. He's a guy that really loves to play the game, so we're excited about him."

Phillips was asked if he still believes Faulkner will be a defensive difference maker.

"We think so, but it's hard to go off potential," the coach said. "We all talk about potential. Potential — and an old coach told me this — potential means he hasn't done it yet, and Faulkner has not done it yet, but we think he's a guy that can help us at that position."

Faulkner said he wasn't feeling any extra pressure because of his high national ratings in high school.

He also believes he could grab a starting spot despite his late start.

"There's a lot of talent out here," the 6-foot-2, 194-pounder said. "I'm going to put forth a great effort. If I can get that spot, then yeah."

Brotherly love

It would seem only natural that Morgan Newton would have been the main recruiting force in getting his younger brother Langston to commit to the Cats late last week, but the UK quarterback said that wasn't the case.

"I don't know if I had much to do with it at all," Newton said of his 6-5, 240-pound defensive lineman "little" brother. "Langston's not the type of guy to call you very much.

"I tried to step back and be big brother and let him do his thing. I didn't want to make the situation seem any more biased than it already seemed. I let him make the decision on his own."

Newton said he's had some talks with his dad about whether or not the rest of the family would just pack up and move to Lexington now, to which his dad gave him some pat answer about letting his boys grow up in college on their own.

"Yeah, right, Dad," was Morgan Newton's response. "You know you want to be down here."

Time management

For the next couple of weeks, football isn't the thing for the Cats, it's the only thing.

Several of the freshmen said they figured that out quickly with a glance at their camp schedule for one day.

"They've got us scheduled from 6:45 in the morning to 11 p.m.," receiver DeMarco Robinson said. "We've got places to be and things to do that are mandatory.

"We get maybe an hour break in there, in between."

Darrian Miller, a lineman from Bryan Station, said it was a shock to the system.

"I was looking through it and I was like, 'Oh. Oh. That's not cool,'" Miller said.

"They're taking people's car keys. They're even taking people's scooter keys. There's no escape at all, but it's cool. It's a month to perfect your craft."

When asked about it, freshman defensive lineman Farrington Huguenin smiled.

"It's not weird, it's football," he said. "If we want to be the best, that's the time it's going to take."

Although he did admit to being a little taken aback the first time he glanced through the schedule.

"This is my whole day," he remembered thinking. "No free time. It's strictly football, but this is the SEC."

Hairy connections

It's not easy to see at first, but Stuart Hines is building team chemistry via a faint row of hairs on his upper lip that the senior offensive lineman calls his "camp mustache."

"Whoever wants to jump in on it can," he explained on reporting day. "It's been a tradition since I've been here. The older guys did it and I didn't want to let it die out this year."

Others appearing to join in on the fun include cornerback Randall Burden, who already has developed a full, untrimmed beard. There's also wide receiver La'Rod King, who had a series of stars shaved into the sides of his head for the occasion.

But you won't see senior Ronnie Sneed get in on the hair-brained scheme.

"Us linebackers don't really do that (stuff) cause we're too tough for that," he said.

Future in politics?

Washington, D.C., could probably use a few more people around town like Kentucky backup quarterback Maxwell Smith.

"There isn't a group on our football team that Max Smith does not hang with at some time in the day," Joker Phillips said of the 6-foot-4 freshman. "He's the perfect quarterback. He'll go over and hang with the offensive linemen, he'll go over and hang out with the receivers. They love him."

One thing that probably wouldn't fly in the nation's capital is Smith's new look.

"He now has a Mohawk and two earrings, so we've kind of screwed him up already," Smith's head coach said of the Californian. "It happened here. We've screwed him up; us Kentuckians have screwed him up."

Men about town

The phones of former Lexington high school standouts Darrian Miller and Zach West have been ringing a little more often since their fellow freshmen got to campus this summer.

"When they all got here, I had to show everyone where to eat," said West, a former star at Lexington Christian. "I definitely help a lot of guys find their way around and things like that."

Miller, who played at Bryan Station, said he often feels like a traveling version of Google Maps.

"Most of the time, you have to ride with them or they get lost," Miller said.

Along with physical directions, Miller finds himself giving some directions for life as well.

"They're like, 'Hey, do you know where the nearest White Castle is?'" Miller recalled one teammate asking recently.

"I was like, 'Are you serious? Who eats White Castle?'"

Jennifer Smith covers UK football for the Herald-Leader. This article contains her opinions and observations. Reach her at jsmith3@herald-leader.com. Read her blog at Kentucky.com and follow her on Twitter @jenheraldleader.

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