UK football notes: Ex-Cat Tommy Cook settling in at Kent State

jsmith3@herald-leader.comSeptember 7, 2012 

Tommy Cook

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

When Tommy Cook walks out onto the Commonwealth Stadium field on Saturday, he hopes he doesn't get lost.

"I'm going to make sure I walk to the right sideline," the former Kentucky wide receiver said this week. "It is going to be weird coming out of a completely different locker room and tunnel. I need to make sure I have my bearings and lead our guys to the right sideline for sure."

It's easy to understand how the new Kent State director of football operations could lose his way. He just left Lexington, where he was UK's assistant director of football ops, two short months ago.

"It's been a whirlwind, I haven't really even gotten a chance to sit down," Cook said. "My wife and I were talking about how we haven't even had time to cook a meal here."

Cook got married in late June. Two days after returning from his honeymoon, he was interviewing for the job at Kent State.

It was a great opportunity for the former UK wide receiver whose goal is to be an athletic administrator at some point.

At Kent State, he handles day-to-day operations for the football program. His job includes organizing and running all things off the field, including team travel, practice and schedule organization, budgets and expenses.

"Every minute detail you can think of," he said.

Cook is excited to get back to Lexington, although he knows he won't "have much time to see anything other than the hotel and the stadium."

UK Coach Joker Phillips hinted that Cook and former UK receiver Eric Adeyemi (who transferred to Kent State) might be able to provide some insight into the Cats' offense, but the coach said it probably isn't any kind of advantage for the Flashes.

Cook laughed and agreed.

"I'm not in the X's and O's meetings," he said. "I've got way too many things on my plate trying to get my team off on a bus, get them to class, get them fed. ... I don't think it's an advantage of any kind."

Cook said he was able to catch a couple of quarters of the Cats' loss at Louisville Sunday. He was glad to see the much-maligned Kentucky offense show signs of improvement.

"As an outsider looking in, I expected this to happen with the offense starting to pick up," he said. "And the defense, which is breaking in a bunch of young guys, will struggle early like the offense did last year."

Cook is happy with how things are going at Kent State, which has won five of its last six games under second-year head coach Darrell Hazell.

"I get the feeling around here they're slowly starting to build momentum," Cook said. "It's definitely picking up momentum and heading in the right direction."

The Flashes are 0-10 all-time versus Southeastern Conference schools and six of those losses have been by margins of 35 points or more.

"A win over an SEC school, especially by a MAC school would definitely help with momentum," Cook said.

The Mid-American Conference already owns an upset this season, with Ohio University getting a 24-14 win at Penn State last week.

Wrong way display

Kent State made big news after its season opener, but not in the most ideal way.

The Golden Flashes made ESPN's SportsCenter after linebacker Andre Parker grabbed a muffed punt and ran it the wrong direction, 59 yards toward the wrong end zone before he was tackled by two Towson players.

UK's Phillips was asked if he saw the play.

"First thing I was thinking is, 'Why weren't the officials blowing the whistle? It's dead,'" he said. "Officials should've been blowing the whistle and they probably were, but everyone was so excited, trying to make blocks ... excited about trying to make a tackle.

"The funny thing was watching the coaches' reactions. ... You could see Towson State's coaches saying, 'Don't tackle him; don't tackle him; don't tackle him.'"

Battle within the battle

Daryl Collins might have just one career start at Kentucky, but the redshirt freshman wide receiver already is on the heels of senior La'Rod King.

"I already told La'Rod I'm going to be on him this year; whatever he does, I'm going to do it better," Collins said this week. "I'm going to beat him with the catches. ... I told him I'm going to be on him this year."

The younger receiver is doing what he can, getting seven catches at Louisville last weekend to King's career-best eight grabs. King finished with his 77 yards and a touchdown. Collins, who missed last season with a knee injury, had 64 yards on Sunday.

He has a long way to go to catch the UK senior, though. King has 1,295 receiving yards, 15th all-time on UK's career list. His 14 touchdown grabs tie him for seventh on the career list.

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