I went to Kentucky football's open practice Saturday and this is what I saw:
I saw a lot of big people. This has not always been the case with Kentucky football. Saturday, however, I saw actual big people in actual football uniforms. Well, actually, they weren't in football pads, not yet anyway, but you get the idea. These Cats look bigger than previous Cats.
The catch-phrase is that slowly but surely this Kentucky football team is looking more and more like an SEC football team. To be sure, it's not a finished product. There are some very big people playing in the SEC.
In Saturday's post-practice press briefing, head coach Mark Stoops said he's not where he wants to be "across the board" in terms of size, but gains have been made.
"This freshman class has the size and the length that we like," Stoops said, adding, "We have to get bigger at the skill positions."
I saw quarterbacks throwing lots of footballs. Who threw it the best? Who knows? Sometimes assumed front-runner Patrick Towles was on the money. Sometimes he wasn't. Same goes for assumed challenger Drew Barker.
Reese Phillips, he of the badly-timed Achilles rupture before spring drills, may have demonstrated the most accuracy of the trio, but Phillips is still rehabbing and not participating in live drills. Things tend to change a little when everyone is flying around.
"I think everyone's focus was probably a little bit off today for whatever reason, but you have that," said new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.
I saw Jeff Badet take a "bubble screen" or a "tunnel screen" or whatever "screen" they are calling it these days and take it to the house. If I thought it was a joy for me to see, imagine what offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson felt considering the sophomore missed last season when a tennis ball from the jugs gun hit him in the eye.
"I think he's one of the most explosive guys on the team as far as just straight-ahead running," Dawson said.
I would tell you that I saw linebacker Khalid Henderson make a nifty interception and Jabari Greenwood drop a perfectly-thrown deep ball and freshman running back Sihiem King make a nice cut with the ball, but that wouldn't be fair because I'm sure each made other plays both good and bad that I didn't happen to see.
I did not see Bud Dupree. To see our old friend Bud, we will have to tune in to Sunday night's NFL Hall of Fame game between the Steelers and the Vikings. Dupree was the Steelers' first-round draft pick. He leaves sizable shoes to fill at defensive end/outside linebacker position.
I did see that Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot have options. Redshirt freshman Denzil Ware and senior Jabari Johnson were running with the first team in a drill, followed by junior college transfer Alvonte Bell and true freshman Kengera Daniel. It should be noted Stoops warned against onlookers drawing any conclusions from Saturday's groupings.
"We have a lot of options that we can move around," Stoops said.
Another nice option would have been junior Jason Hatcher, who I did see taking part in team drills. We won't be seeing Hatcher in the first two games of the season, however. Stoops announced after practice that the former Trinity star has been suspended for a violation of team rules.
Before it all began Saturday, I saw a lot of fans crossing Cooper Drive from the Nutter Field House to the UK practice fields. The fans were carrying posters and schedule cards and autographs they had collected at Fan Day. And I heard impatient drivers blowing their car horns as they sat on Cooper waiting for the fans to empty the crosswalk.
I didn't attend UK Football Fan Day — autographs aren't my thing — but apparently a lot of people did. By all reports, lines were long, people were enthusiastic and I am not the only one in our commonwealth who can't wait for football to start.
"I held a lot of babies, I know that," Stoops said.
His team no longer looks like babies. That's good. We've seen enough SEC football to know that bigger is normally better.