The Kentucky football team has 14 players from the state of Florida, including many from the south Florida area that could receive a devastating direct hit from Hurricane Irma on Saturday.
UK officials told the Herald-Leader they are keeping a close eye on the developing situation in Florida and assisting all athletes as needed. The Wildcats play Eastern Kentucky in a home game scheduled for noon Saturday.
“Since this is a fluid situation, we are assessing things as they progress,” Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart told the Herald-Leader via a team spokesman.
“We are working closely with affected student-athletes from all sports and their families to determine how we can support them, which is what we can do in any emergency or disaster situation.
“Our hearts go out to all those affected.”
Kentucky has several options to help athletes affected by the storm and likely will be discussing those in the coming days.
Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, is expected to begin battering the south Florida coast as early as Saturday evening.
Kentucky players from Florida include wide receiver Clevan Thomas Jr. (Miami), defensive back Michael Nesbitt and linebacker Jordan Wright (Fort Lauderdale), receiver Josh Ali, offensive lineman Sebastien Dolcine, defensive lineman Chris Whittaker (Hollywood), defensive lineman Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald (Lakeland), offensive lineman Nick Haynes (Niceville), defensive backs Chris Westry (Orange Park), Cedrick Dort (Palm Beach), Kendall Randolph (Tallahassee) and Derrick Baity (Tampa), safety Marcus Walker (Lake Wales) and wide receiver Garrett Johnson (Winter Garden).
The Cats also have several recruits in the south Florida area, which has become a primary target since offensive coordinator Eddie Gran joined the staff two years ago.
Many of Kentucky’s coaches have coached in Florida and two, wide receivers coach Lamar Thomas and co-offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw, are Florida natives.