HOOVER, Ala. — Three members of Kentucky's 2009 signing class will not be enrolling in the fall, while the future of two other recruits remains uncertain, UK Coach Rich Brooks said at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.
The three not enrolling are LaGrange (Ga.) defensive end Demetri Merritt, Tupelo (Miss.) wide receiver Justin Bean and Hiram (Ga.) tight end Terrell Mitchell.
Brooks said that Bean and Mitchell would both be enrolling in junior college. Bean will attend Itawamba (Miss.) Junior College. Merritt's high school coach, Steve Pardue, has said that Merritt probably would attend Southwest Mississippi Junior College, which is where former UK signee Mychal Bailey is attending.
Brooks said he's still uncertain about the status of defensive end Donte Rumph and tight end Anthony Kendrick, who both have coursework to complete before they can attain freshman eligibility.
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Rumph originally signed with Kentucky in 2008 but spent last year at Fork Union Military Academy.
Locke, Mossakowski cleared
Brooks said junior running back Derrick Locke and freshman quarterback Ryan Mossakowski have been cleared for full contact in the fall.
Locke suffered two torn knee ligaments in the Arkansas game last year. Mossakowski had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder last winter.
Brooks said Locke has been participating in conditioning drills and summer workouts with no problems or swelling.
"I just want to see it for myself on the field and get him in uniform and let him take a couple of hits and get over the mental problem that you always have coming off major surgery," Brooks said.
Brooks said Mossakowski might need to rest the shoulder some during fall camp.
"(UK head trainer Jim Madaleno) is not convinced that he's really cutting it loose yet, but he's throwing all the routes," Brooks said. "I would think we might have an issue when we get into camp having to back off a day or two because of soreness. It's a problem for quarterbacks who haven't had surgery. We did the same thing with Mike Hartline last year."
Petrino expects to improve
Arkansas Coach and former UK nemesis Bobby Petrino led off SEC Media Days, and Petrino is hoping to take a quantum leap in his second year in Fayetteville after finishing 5-7 in 2008.
The Razorbacks appear to be equipped for a solid turnaround, as they return 17 starters. That includes sophomore quarterback Ryan Mallett, a Michigan transfer who was rated the nation's No. 2 quarterback by Rivals.com and Scout.com in 2007. Petrino said the 6-foot-7 Mallett has lost nearly 30 pounds and is down to 238.
"We will be a better football team," Petrino said. "How many wins that adds up to remains to be seen. We're going to have to win some of those close games in the fourth quarter."
Petrino was asked about the job that Rich Brooks has done at Kentucky. Petrino was 4-0 against Brooks at Louisville before losing to UK 21-20 last year at Commonwealth Stadium.
"You need to take your hat off to what Rich has done there," he said. "When we first got there, Kentucky was on probation and didn't have the full amount of scholarships. (Brooks) has done a great job with consistency, with recruiting, and with his coaching staff. You also have to give credit to the administration. They understood (Brooks) had a good plan, knew what he was doing, and they stuck behind him and gave him a chance to turn the program around."
■ Petrino hired former U of L head coach John L. Smith, whom Petrino served as an offensive coordinator at U of L in 1998, as his special teams coach.
■ Petrino's son, Nick, has transferred to Arkansas as a walk-on. The younger Petrino started his college career at Georgetown College before transferring to Arkansas Tech then Montana State-Northern.
Who dissed Tebow?
Many reporters spent the first day of SEC Media Days trying to figure out which coach did not vote for Florida's Tim Tebow as the first-team All-SEC quarterback. So far there are no answers. Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino, Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson, and Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, who was Tebow's offensive coordinator at Florida before relocating to Starkville, all said they voted for Tebow.
"You guys are going to try to narrow it down to get somebody to spill their guts, huh?" Brooks said. "How could I not vote for Tim Tebow? We couldn't stop him the last few years. It isn't me. I'm not the guy. Good luck in your search."
After being introduced as the final coach of the day to speak, Brooks had a nice one-liner.
"I'll bet you're glad this day is over," he said. "I'll be last. That's where we get picked every year, so it's kind of appropriate, I guess."
Then in closing he added, "You guys can go have a cocktail, a cold beer, and talk about where you're going to put Kentucky again. Have some fun with it. I'm having fun trying to prove you wrong on occasion."