Now that national signing day has come and gone, the University of Kentucky football program can start shifting its focus to 2010. The primary in-state target without question will be Central's Tim Patterson, widely considered the No. 1 in-state prospect in the junior class and one of the top linebacker recruits in the nation.
Kentucky already has four Central players on its roster: junior defensive tackle Corey Peters, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Joe Scott, and linebacker Ridge Wilson and defensive tackle Mister Cobble, who signed on Wednesday.
Central Coach Ty Scroggins said Patterson will clearly be the best of the bunch. He's been labeled as a four-star recruit by Scout.com and was the only Kentuckian on the Rivals.com early list of the nation's top 250 prospects. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Patterson was the leading tackler for Central's back-to-back state championship teams.
Scroggins said Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana have already offered, and schools such as Southern California, Florida, Florida State, Alabama and Tennessee have expressed interest.
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"He's definitely a national prospect," Scroggins said.
The Wildcats are selling Patterson on replacing Micah Johnson at middle linebacker when he departs after next season, but there might be a couple of obstacles. For starters, Patterson still has some work to do in the classroom between now and next year, Scroggins said. Also, Patterson is a die-hard Louisville fan.
"His family is all Louisville fans, and he never takes a U of L shirt off," Scroggins said. "But that doesn't necessarily mean that's where he's going to go. It doesn't hurt when four guys from your high school are at Kentucky."
Central has another prospect in its junior class, Stephan Robinson, a 5-9, 165-pound receiver/defensive back. Robinson has offers from Indiana and Illinois, and Scroggins thinks Kentucky is on the verge of extending an offer.
"He's a fast, speedy kid that runs in the 4.3-4.4 range," Scroggins said. "He told me last week that if he gets an offer (from Kentucky) that he wants to go and keep the pipeline going, and his grades are a lot better than Tim's right now."
Final recruiting rankings
UK had a slight rise in the final recruiting rankings released by Scout.com and Rivals.com. The Wildcats moved from 32nd to 26th in Scout's rankings and 44th to 42nd in Rivals'. It is regarded as Brooks' best class at UK. Here's a year-by-year look at Rich Brooks' previous six classes:
2003: Brooks and his staff arrived at UK in December and had to put the finishing touches on a class that was started by Guy Morriss and featured program-turners Andre Woodson, Keenan Burton and Jacob Tamme. Morriss gets credit for nabbing the overlooked Burton out of Manual and getting Woodson to commit, but Brooks and his staff were able to secure Woodson's commitment after Morriss left. Brooks also signed Tamme after Morriss hadn't extended an offer. This class also featured solid contributors such as Eric Scott, Roger Williams and Dominic Lewis.
Former assistant Ron McBride helped sign Jan Jorgensen out of Utah, but Jorgensen went on a two-year mission before becoming a standout at BYU.
Three other players never made it to campus: Georgia prospects Emmanuel Harrell and Delaine Means and Warren Central product Leroy Wilson.
2004: Brooks' first full class at UK wasn't highly ranked, but it might have turned out to be his deepest and best. Included were Rafael Little, Wesley Woodyard, Myron Pryor and Garry Williams — players who contributed for four years and garnered All-SEC mention of some sort during their careers — and one of the most popular and productive players of the Brooks era in Dicky Lyons Jr. Marcus McClinton, Tony Dixon, Johnny Williams, Shomari Moore, B. Jay Parsons, Scott Mitchell and Nii Adjei Oninku all were solid contributors. Cornerback Trevard Lindley was also in this class but grayshirted. This class would have turned out even better if it hadn't lost four highly touted players in Aaron Miller, Lonnell Dewalt, Gabe Wallace (all to academics) and Micah Jones (back injuries). Henry Clay product Aubrey White never enrolled.
2005: This was Brooks' lowest-ranked class, and the production levels back that assessment up. Four players never made it to campus (Jamaal Jackson, Kalavi Blanchard, Michael Cross and Corey Goodson) and five others left before completing their eligibility (Curtis Pulley, Ben Bates, Kenny Ray Turner, Sefo Blaylock and Jordan Nevels). Zach Hennis, DeMoreo Ford and Michael Schwindel suffered career-ending injuries. On the positive side, there were three two-star recruits who panned out in Braxton Kelley, Jeremy Jarmon and Ventrell Jenkins. Alfonso Smith is expected to be a key cog in the UK running game as a senior.
2006: This group received a national ranking of 34th by Scout, which ranks just behind this year's class as Brooks' best overall. The signing of Micah Johnson, who at one time was a five-star recruit by Scout.com, generated much of the excitement. Steve Johnson was a four-star recruit out of junior college who's now in the NFL, and defensive tackle Corey Peters should be on the radar of pro scouts in 2010. Looking back, this class probably didn't turn out to be as good as its ranking. Four-star recruit Josh Minton's career was derailed by a knee injury, and 11 others (LaMarckus Boswell, Chris Goode, LaRay Foote, Michael Strickland, Ameer Salahuddin, Chris Drayton, LaShun Watson, Jamil Paris, Terrence Jones, Demetrius Goode and Darrell Stevens) either never made it to UK or are no longer with the program.
2007: The jury's still out on this class, which was ranked in the mid-to-late 50s by both Rivals and Scout. There have been no dynamic young standouts of yet, although Matt Lentz did start several games at strong safety as a true freshman.
Offensive linemen Stuart Hines and Brad Durham have shown promise, as has cornerback Randall Burden.
The only four-star player in the class, LaGrange's D.J. Stafford, never made it to campus and hasn't played a down of college football anywhere.
2008: This class might have a chance to turn out significantly better than its rankings (53rd by Scout, 57th by Rivals). Randall Cobb looks like one of the most talented players Brooks has signed, and several others showed promise as true freshmen (Danny Trevathan, Winston Guy, Chandler Burden, Gene McCaskill). The coaches are also high on redshirts Collins Ukwu, William Johnson, Cartier Rice and a handful of offensive linemen.
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Barton Simmons identified three under-the-radar members of UK's recruiting classes who could turn out to be solid players in Lexington. Simmons is high on Texas signees Anthony Kendrick and Ryan Mosby as well as Louisiana native Jarvis Walker.
"First of all, they did a great job in Texas by going in there and taking (quarterback Ryan) Mossakowski away from some pretty big programs," Simmons said. "Kendrick is a guy I see being a real playmaker for them down the road. Mosby is a nice, physical linebacker who should be a nice fit in the SEC, and Walker is an athletic safety who can also play outside linebacker."
The Wildcats are trying to be a bigger player in the Texas recruiting scene. Coach Rich Brooks said he took notice of the abundance of players in the area when he was at a coaching clinic in San Antonio last year. Assistant coaches Steve Brown and Chris Thurmond also have extensive ties to the state.
Former UK coach Guy Morriss signed his first class at Texas A & M University-Commerce. Morriss has one Kentuckian in his seven-member class: Connor Wise, a 6-3, 265-pound offensive lineman from Manual.
And another ex-Wildcat assistant, Tony Franklin, has landed on his feet after being unceremoniously dumped as the offensive coordinator at Auburn. Franklin was hired as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Middle Tennessee State this week.
Three invited to Combine
Three UK seniors have been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which will be held Feb. 18-24 in Indianapolis: punter/kicker Tim Masthay, free safety Marcus McClinton and defensive tackle Myron Pryor. Linebacker Johnny Williams is one of several Wildcats who will work out for scouts at UK's Pro Day in March.
Brooks call-in show
There will be a special edition of the Coach Rich Brooks radio call-in show on Wednesday, Feb. 11, from 6-7 p.m. The show will be carried on the radio affiliates of the Big Blue Sports Network, including WLAP-AM 630 in the Lexington area.
Spring practice update
UK's spring practice is set to begin on Wednesday, April 1. The Blue/White Spring Game will be held on Saturday, April 25 at Commonwealth Stadium.