The University of Kentucky's 2011 recruiting class is starting to fill up during the summer months. UK added four more commitments this past week: Georgia defensive back Riyahd Jones, Texas linebacker Blake Terry, Tennessee defensive lineman Christian Coleman and St. Xavier cornerback Daylen Hall. Kentucky now has 14 known commitments for its 2011 recruiting class.
As usual, though, Kentucky will have to battle to the wire to hold on to some of those commitments. Hall, a 5-foot-9 170-pounder who has been timed at less than 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, told Catspause.com that his commitment is "soft" because he's going to continue to listen to pitches from other schools. UK, Murray State and Marshall are the only schools that have offered a scholarship to Hall, although Purdue, Cincinnati and Indiana have shown interest.
UK will also have to fight to keep both of its commitments from East St. Louis, defensive back Glenn Faulkner and defensive tackle Clint Tucker.
Faulker is ranked as the top prospect in Illinois and No. 3 safety in the nation by Rivals.com, and Tucker was a standout at the Under Armour combine in Chicago recently and told ESPN's Chris Pool that he hopes to receive offers from other schools.
"Right now, I'd say that my commitment is soft," Tucker said. "The door is open right now. Kentucky is a nice school to be at, but I do have other schools in mind that I'd like to check out. I'd like to hear from Nebraska, Alabama, Florida State and Florida. I'm keeping the door opened."
Coleman, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive end and high school teammate of 2010 signee Avery Williamson, is a three-star prospect on Rivals.com and had offers from UK, Duke, Memphis and Middle Tennessee.
The numbers game
Going into the recruiting season, it was assumed that UK would be a few scholarships short of the allotment of 25 for its 2011 class, but those numbers usually fluctuate due to attrition. UK is set to return 63 scholarship players from last year. Two players left the team in the off-season: Matt Lentz, who had to give up football because of concussions, and offensive lineman Osaze Idumwonyi.
UK signed 26 recruits in 2010, but the way the numbers sit right now, the Cats would be able to enroll only 22 of those recruits in the fall. Sixteen members of the 2010 class are already enrolled in summer school: Tyler Brause, Alvin Davis, Nermin Delic, Teven Eatmon, Josh Gibbs, Justin Henderson, Brice Laughlin, Joe Mansour, Jerrell Priester, Tyler Robinson, Raymond Sanders, Ronnie Shields, Eric Simmons, Miles Simpson, Alex Smith, and Avery Williamson.
The 10 signees who have not yet enrolled are Mychal Bailey, Mike Evans-Douglas, Brandon Gainer, Farrington Huguenin, Jabari Johnson, Tim McAdoo, Malcolm McDuffen, Tim Patterson, Donte Rumph and Dale Trimble.
Kentucky will lose just 10 scholarship seniors in 2010 so, if they have a full allotment of 85 scholarship players, they would have just 10 scholarships to offer. But that number figures to be bigger because of the usual attrition programs face every year with academics, transfers and players turning pro or deciding to give up their final year of eligibility.
Dawson has busy summer
No matter how the numbers shake out, one prospect Kentucky will wait on is Boyle County linebacker Lamar Dawson. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Dawson is a four-star prospect and ranked as the nation's No. 9 linebacker by Scout. Rivals has him as the No. 1 prospect in the state of Kentucky.
But the Cats will have to get in line. Dawson has offers from more than a dozen schools, including Florida, Southern California and Michigan. Dawson attended camp at Florida last weekend. Larry French, Dawson's coach at Boyle County, said he expects Dawson to wait until after the football season to pick a school.
"He's just trying to get a feel for the campuses and coaches and see what's the best fit for him," French said.
Dawson is viewed as a must-get for UK, considering he's right in the Wildcats' back yard and with legendary Boyle County coach Chuck Smith now coaching linebackers at Kentucky.
"They're high on his list," French said of UK. "They're close to home. He's got an open mind and is just taking it all in. But when Florida, USC and Tennessee call, you've got to go and look at those things."
Dawson is a 3.7 student who scored a 22 on his ACT.
"He won't have any trouble going through the (NCAA) clearinghouse," French said. "He's a first-class young man and an outstanding citizen in the community."
Gam3Day Ready Tour continues
Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips made the first stop on his Gam3Day Ready Tour in Hyden this week and will follow up in Central City (Broad Street Downtown Lot) Sunday afternoon, Danville (Millennium Park) on Monday and Louisville (Shawnee Park Great Lawn near Broadway) on Tuesday.
"We had a big turnout in Hyden with some great kids, and we are looking forward to seeing similar enthusiasm from the Big Blue Nation at our other three stops," Phillips said. "It is fun to be able to travel around this great state and be able to watch kids learn the basic skills of football. I encourage all youth football fans to come out and participate."
Registration opens at each tour stop at 4:30 p.m. with the football activities starting at 5:30 p.m. and running for about 90 minutes to two hours. Each participating child will receive a free package that includes a shirt, water bottle and other UK items (while supplies last).
There also will be a post-event snack for the youth and Phillips will address the crowd. The football activities are intended for children seven years of age up to those entering eighth grade. The event includes music, giant inflatable games and other activities for children six and under. For more details, call (859) 257-8022.
Giants cut Johnson
The New York Giants released former UK linebacker Micah Johnson this week.
Johnson, who was not selected in this year's NFL Draft, attended the Giants' rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis and was signed on May 7. Johnson was one of five players released.
The consensus among the New York media was that Johnson was cut to make room for the Giants' seven draft picks. If Johnson and the other four players hadn't been cut, New York would have had to release a player every time they signed one of their draft choices to stay at the 80-man roster limit.
Former Cats on NFL rosters
DT Myron Pryor (New England); CB Bo Smith (New York Jets); FB John Conner (New York Jets); WR Steve Johnson (Buffalo); LB Johnny Williams (Pittsburgh); TE Jacob Tamme (Indianapolis); LB Wesley Woodyard (Denver); LB Braxton Kelley (Denver); CB Trevard Lindley (Philadelphia); OL Zipp Duncan (Philadelphia); DE Jeremy Jarmon (Washington); P Tim Masthay (Green Bay); DT Corey Peters (Atlanta); OT Garry Williams (Carolina); WR Keenan Burton (St. Louis); RB Alfonso Smith (Arizona); LB Sam Maxwell (New Orleans)