University of Kentucky offensive lineman Dave Ulinski has been forced to give up football because of a series of concussions, Coach Joker Phillips announced on Friday.
Phillips said Ulinski will stay with the team and assist strength and conditioning coach Ray 'Rock' Oliver with the weight training program.
Ulinksi, a fourth-year junior, was in line to earn his first significant playing time this spring after being held back by concussions and injuries in the past. He was listed as the backup at right guard heading into spring practice. Ulinski's latest concussion came two weeks ago, and team doctors recommended he give up the sport.
"We love Dave, and we'll miss him," UK Coach Joker Phillips said. "That's one of the areas where we were trying to develop some depth because we'll have a mass exodus of about three or four guys graduating (after the season)."
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Ulinski is the second Wildcat in two years to give up football because of concussions, joining former safety Matt Lentz, who is now a video assistant on the coaching staff. Phillips, Ulinski and offensive line coach Mike Summers talked about the increased awareness over concussions in the sport.
"Maybe five years ago they would have let me keep playing, but it definitely wouldn't have been the right decision now," Ulinski said. "I understand the decision, and there's nothing I can do about it but be positive and find something to do."
"If I played now, I'd have to give it up, because I guarantee you I've had a lot of concussions myself," Phillips said. "Back then it was considered a headache, but there's just more concern now."
"It's such a sad situation and such a concern for these guys that go out here every day and expose their bodies to the type of punishment that's involved in practice and playing," Summers said. "When a situation like that develops, my heart goes out to him and the decisions that are being made right now. These guys play this game because they love it, it's a part of their personality and who they are, and when they have to give it up, it cuts deep emotionally. Certainly we're going to miss Dave because he had a bright future in front of him."
Cobble has surgery
Defensive tackle Mister Cobble will be out four months after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum on Thursday.
Phillips expects Cobble to be ready for full contact by the time fall camp opens in August. Two Cats had shoulder surgery before the BBVA Compass Bowl in January, starting left tackle Chandler Burden and reserve defensive end Tristian Johnson. Burden just recently returned to practice while Johnson is expected to be ready for fall camp.
"We wanted to make sure he got that done in time to prepare him to play for the season," Phillips said. "We feel pretty positive about him coming back."
UK's tackle rotation for the April 23 Blue/White Spring Game will include senior Luke McDermott, sophomore Donte Rumph, converted end Taylor Wyndham and senior Mark Crawford. Phillips said Cobble's injury will also give redshirt freshman Brice Laughlin an opportunity for more snaps.
UK-Western kickoff set
Kentucky's season opener against Western Kentucky will kick off at 9:15 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 1 at Nashville's LP Field. The game will be televised by ESPNU.
Fans who want to sit in the Kentucky section are encouraged to buy tickets through the UK ticket office.
Scrimmage is Saturday
The Cats will hold their final scrimmage before the Blue/White Spring Game on Saturday. The scrimmage is closed to the public.
"We're looking to see how the offense responds to last week, because I thought the defense smothered them," Phillips said.