UK football notebook: Camp is all work and more sleep for new dad La'Rod King

Herald-Leader Staff WriterAugust 11, 2012 

Wide receiver La'Rod King, whose son, Isaiah, was born in April, sees playing well and getting to the NFL as a way to provide for his family.

HERALD-LEADER

While some players might be complaining about the too short, too thin mattresses in the dorms during fall camp, La'Rod King won't be one of them.

He might get more sleep on those uncomfortable beds than he would at home. where he has a new son, Isaiah, born in late April.

When asked whether he planned to get extra sleep at camp, King smiled.

"Most definitely," he said. "But my phone is always on me to make sure everything's going good at home. Our parents are very supportive."

His son's birth has changed more than just King's sleep schedule.

It's changed everything about the senior's life.

"It makes you more humble," he said. "The goal to get to the NFL has that much more meaning. There's nothing like providing for your family, and to do it by doing something you love would make it that much easier."

The 6-foot-4, 222-pounder goes soft when asked about his son. "To see him smile is awesome," he said.

"At first, I was like, 'Man, is this real life?' I mean, I'm holding my child. But really, it's awesome," King said. "It's an awesome feeling. You feel like you have a purpose, and that purpose is to be a provider. This part's a little boring. I'm ready to play basketball with him and stuff like that. I'll be the fun dad."

King's son was born shortly after spring football. The coaches knew that their star receiver, who caught 40 passes for 598 yards and seven touchdowns, seemed distracted during spring practice, but they didn't know why.

They just knew that he had put on weight and seemed unfocused.

"We were trying to blame it on something," Coach Joker Phillips said. "We didn't know."

But since fall camp has started, the head coach has been pleased with his senior's leadership.

"A lot of the weight is off his shoulders, and he's playing a lot faster," Phillips said. "He did a really good job of trying to lead this summer. He's got a really young group behind him and he's the most experienced guy in that group by far.

"He has the stripes to lead, and we need that from him. He did a really good job of that this summer."

After the scrimmage Saturday, King said he was settled in and ready to lead the football team.

"We're in a football camp, so nothing else really matters right now," he said. "It's all about football and taking care of my team at this point. I'm just trying to move forward and make sure my team is good."

Family reunion

Even though quarterback Morgan Newton and his brother Langston played together in high school, they always had different locker rooms and never really crossed paths.

This season, they're competing against each other in practice.

"Having him here is different," Morgan said.

When Langston committed to UK last year, Morgan joked that his brother was going to enjoy the chance to take his head off in practice.

Langston laughed when told that last week. "I'm not sure if he'd say that, but when you're competing, sometimes when you are competing on the field you just forget who is family and who is not," he said.

But does Langston think it will actually happen?

"I'm not sure if there will ever be a chance for me to do that in practice, obviously, with the red jerseys" the quarterbacks wear in practice so they stand out and won't be hit, he said. "We're just real competitive, and I imagine if we ever get at it, something might happen."

Morgan and Langston aren't the only Newtons in the program this season. Langston has a fraternal twin brother, J.J., who is a student manager this season.

Morgan cautioned the media that he and his defensive-minded brother are "totally different people."

"I'm probably more talkative than he is," he said. "He's definitely more introverted."

Then Morgan smiled and wished the quote-seeking media "good luck" when talking to his baby brother.

Piped in

It's unlikely that freshman wide receiver DeMarcus Sweat will be getting homesick any time soon.

It sometimes seems as if half of Lithonia, Ga., is on Kentucky's team.

Players such as Raymond Sanders, Ronnie Shields, Jabari Johnson and freshman Shawn Blaylock, currently off campus having surgery on his injured knee, all came from Sweat's Stephenson High School.

"It makes you feel at home," Sweat said during Media Day. "You got a big brother on campus. Like three big brothers. ... That makes it go better."

Clemons' potential

The Stephenson players aren't the only ones with connections on the team.

Freshman offensive lineman Jordan Watson used to block for sophomore running back Josh Clemons when they were at Whitewater (Ga.) High School. Watson even played in the same little league program with the back growing up.

"We weren't on the same team, but we've known each other since that young age of playing pee-wee football," Watson said. "And he's impressed the heck out of me every time he touches the ball."

The offensive lineman had no trouble coming up with examples.

"My junior year, his senior year we ran a screen play," Watson said. "The whole offensive line ... we whiffed. It was a screen play where we had to cut, and we didn't do it right. There were about, in all seriousness, seven guys in the backfield, and he broke all seven and ran for a 60-yard touchdown."

Heroes' welcome

Kentucky announced this week that it will host Heroes' Day on Sept. 8 against Kent State. The event is designed to honor active, reserve and armed force veterans, and police, firefighters and other first responders.

Interested groups may contact UK marketing's Nathan Schwake at nschwake@uky.edu or (859) 257-5526 to obtain a group ticket form. Each member of the organization will receive two tickets and a gift.

Special events planned for the home opener are a football-field size American flag and a pre-game flyover.

Herald-Leader staff writers Mark Story and Ben Roberts contributed to this report. Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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