UK football notebook: Dare winds up helping recruiting

Herald-Leader Staff WriterMay 4, 2013 

Tight end Tyler Ferguson was brought down by Glenn Faulkner, 18, and Eric Simmons, 38, during the Blue-White scrimmage in April. Faulkner was injured last season.

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A dare helped form a pair that could bring some top talent to Kentucky in the next few years.

It was a childish challenge that brought together new UK running backs coach Chad Scott and his wife Shambrica Jones Scott.

Jones had a bet going with then women's basketball teammate SeSe Helm that she had to give her number to the next guy who walked into the academic center one day.

Scott, then a running back at UK, happened to be that guy.

"Oh, no," Jones Scott said she told Helm at the time. "I don't like him at all."

Now, a few years married and two small children between them, Scott likes to tease his wife: "You thought I was ugly."

Of course so many years later, Scott likes to paint a different picture of their first meeting.

"I was actually working at a computer and she interrupted me in the middle of a paper," he recalled of the event. "She was fortunate enough that I put down my pen and stopped typing and talked to her."

Turns out it may be the Kentucky football program that will benefit from their friendship, which blossomed into a relationship later.

When Scott is trying to convince players to come to Kentucky, he doesn't have to fake it.

"It's such an easy program to sell, particularly from me, because I went to school here, my wife played here and graduated from here," Scott said on signing day. "There's so much to sell here."

And when mothers of recruits talk to Scott's wife about coming to Kentucky, she doesn't have to fake it either.

"This will be a no-brainer for me to convince parents to let their sons come here," Jones Scott said. "I can tell them the great things about Lexington and how great it was for me as a student and an athlete here."

In fact, her husband got a couple of offers to leave Texas Tech and she balked, only wanting to move to a new location if that location was Lexington.

"When people would ask me where I wanted to live, maybe they expected I'd say L.A. or Miami, but I'd always say, 'Get me back to Lexington,'" said Jones Scott, who currently is a stay-at-home mom to 4-year-old daughter Kori and nearly 1-year-old son Jakobe.

"I'm very happy to be back, very. I have lots of friends through playing basketball and everyone's still here. So I'm very happy. It's a familiar city. I always loved it. That's why I chose to come here. Now that I'm back, I'm just excited."

And as most husbands would say, when the wife is happy, everyone can be happy. It was nice to get the entire family back to their home away from their hometowns.

"It was like a dream job for me, especially for her because we're on the road so much (as coaches), so you have to think about how comfortable your wife feels being home all the time," he said. "Her graduating from here and knowing everybody here helps a ton. ... It's like home to her, too."

Scott has been a key recruiter for Kentucky, including being the primary recruiter on UK signee JoJo Kemp, one of the top running backs in the nation, according to several recruiting services.

As a former college basketball assistant coach at Morehead State, Jones Scott has a unique perspective on what makes her husband such a good recruiter for Kentucky.

And it's more than just his connections to the school.

One could say it's his connections to cool.

"(Recruits) want to go and play for a coach who you know played and was good at playing and is young and knows what's going on, knows the latest styles and trends," Jones Scott said. "So when he's talking to these recruits, he's able to say: 'You got that Lil Wayne album?' And they like it. He gets them.

"He's able to bring that to the kids, just being so young and being able to relate to them. He knows what's in style; he knows all the latest trends. He's able to talk about that with them. Most of the recruits enjoy that."

Faulkner still trying to shake rust

Glenn Faulkner came to Kentucky with tons of promise, the jewel in his recruiting class, but it turned out he was less polished than originally suspected.

The No. 8 safety in the nation according to Rivals played in 11 games as a freshman in 2011, mostly on special teams, and he finished with one total tackle.

Few were able to see any progress he made between his freshman and sophomore seasons after he was sidelined with an ankle injury in 2012. Now the 6-foot-2 sophomore safety from East Saint Louis is trying to make his way up the depth chart.

Finally being healthy has helped, new safeties coach Bradley Dale Peveto said this spring.

"He's a guy who's worked extremely hard," Peveto said of Faulkner. "He came into spring ball in great shape and again, Glenn needed reps. He needed to be in there learning and getting better, and I've seen him do that."

But Faulkner, who had one tackle for the White team in the Blue-White Spring Game, is still shaking off the rust.

"He's getting used to playing the game again: learning, thinking on the run," Peveto said. "This (new UK) offense, what a fast tempo. To think and respond and react under these conditions is hard to do, especially when you've been out a year. Glenn's handled it especially well."

At the end of spring, Faulkner was running with the second team defense, but Peveto said he shows promise, some of the same promise that made him a gem in that recruiting class.

"Glenn looks the part," Peveto said. "He passes what we call the 'eye test.' He's very athletic, he's tall, he's rangy. He's got length. ... And if you watch him move around, he's got the ability to play. It's all about getting reps right now, mentally and physically for Glenn."

Kentucky transplant

What did Steven Borden know about Kentucky when he signed there? Turns out very little.

He was coming from a junior college and wanted to play under Neal Brown and his system, even if it meant moving to a new state, a state he knew almost nothing about.

"I knew the Bluegrass State," he said recently. "I knew they were big on horses, but I had no idea how big on horses until I got here."

When he was little, he never, ever imagined playing at Kentucky, across the country from home.

"I spent most of my life in Southern California," he said. "So I always thought USC, Cal, UCLA, some of the West Coast schools. Then I was thinking Texas Tech for a while. All the sudden Kentucky came up. I would've never pictured it, but I'm really happy I'm here."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241 Twitter: @jenheraldleader Blog: ukwomen.bloginky.com

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