UK signee Donte Rumph, who didn't qualify for freshman eligibility, will instead enroll at Fork Union Military Academy this fall. Rumph, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive lineman, was a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and Scout.com and picked UK over Clemson, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
Rumph said he needs to raise his core grade-point average to gain eligibility. Though he's now available to be recruited by other schools, Rumph said he plans to re-sign with Kentucky in 2009. UK offensive coordinator Joker Phillips helped place Rumph at Fork Union, and Rumph said he'll leave for the Central Virginia prep school on Aug. 13. Sophomore running back Moncell Allen went the same route as Rumph; after not qualifying in 2006, he went to Fork Union for a year before signing again with UK in February 2007.
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”I'm just planning on going to Fork Union, keeping my head straight, getting my work done, and getting to Kentucky next year (in 2009),“ Rumph said.
Rumph said he wants to remain loyal to UK after it stuck with him despite knowing he might not qualify as a true freshman.
”That meant a lot to me,“ Rumph said. ”A lot of schools backed away, and Kentucky made me feel wanted. They proved themselves to me.“
Thurmond to miss 2008
UK Coach Rich Brooks confirmed Friday at the UK Kickoff Luncheon that sophomore Brandon Thurmond would miss the upcoming season after his third knee injury over the summer. Thurmond redshirted in 2006 before missing last fall after injuring the knee during spring practice.
”We just hope he gets back to the point where he's able to play again, because that's the third surgery on that knee,“ Brooks said.
In other injury news, Brooks said sophomore defensive end Josh Minton, who also missed 2007 with knee problems, has been slowed in the off-season by tendinitis.
”I'm hoping he's healthy, because we need some depth at that position,“ Brooks said.
Brooks said junior offensive tackle James Alexander, who redshirted last year with a back injury, had an emergency appendectomy three weeks ago and will be limited to start fall camp. Brooks said Alexander should be fine by the start of the season. Also, junior safety Calvin Harrison, who missed most of the spring with knee issues, is 100 percent for the start of fall camp.
Hines makes strides
UK Coach Rich Brooks talked on Friday about the impressive off-season redshirt freshman Stuart Hines had. Hines, who arrived at UK at 6-4 and around 265 pounds, has bulked up to 290 and improved his squat from 450 to 575. Hines is expected to compete with senior Jess Beets for a starting spot at right guard.
”He was a good player as a redshirt freshman,“ Brooks said. ”I can't wait to get the pads on him and see him block.“
Freshmen of impact
With most SEC programs set to report this week, here's a look at several true freshmen who could play key roles for their respective teams this fall. This list isn't based on the recruits' rankings coming out of high school but on their opportunity to make an immediate impact, based on comments from last week's SEC Media Days.
1. Julio Jones, WR, Alabama: Jones, considered by many the nation's No. 2 recruit behind Terrelle Pryor, reportedly has the skills to become the go-to receiver in Nick Saban's offense from day one.
2. Patrick Johnson, CB, LSU: The defending national champs lost both of its starting corners to graduation, so Johnson, rated the nation's top pure prep corner, could crack the starting lineup.
3. A.J. Green, WR, Georgia: The Bulldogs' receiving corps has been underwhelming the past couple of years, something that will have to change if Coach Mark Richt wants to win that elusive national title in Athens. Green ran neck-and-neck with Jones for the title of the country's top prep wideout.
4. Omar Hunter, DT, Florida: The one thing Urban Meyer hasn't really had in Gainesville is a big run-clogger in the middle, which is one reason he was elated to talk Hunter out of a previous commitment to Notre Dame.
5. Aaron Boyd and/or Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky: Neither Boyd nor Cobb is ranked as high as the other players on this list. But considering how thin the UK receiving corps is, they have as good a chance to play a prominent role as any freshmen in the league.
■ Another UK freshman who opened eyes in summer workouts was Danny Trevathan, a 6-1, 210-pound linebacker from Leesburg, Fla.
”He's been jumping off the charts in workouts as far as speed and strength goes,“ UK Coach Rich Brooks said.
Brooks added that freshman offensive lineman Dave Ulinski will get a look at center as well as guard.
Parking passes available
There are 250 parking passes available for the 2008 football season. The passes are located at 1644 Nicholasville Rd., in the lot adjacent to Central Baptist Hospital. People can exit the parking lot on foot to Alumni Drive directly across the stadium. The passes are $100 each and can be available by calling (859) 260-6592 or by logging on to www.centralbap.com.
The UK football team reports to camp on Monday, with the first practice set for Tuesday afternoon. Practices are closed to the public. Fan Day is set for Saturday, Aug. 9 at Commonwealth Stadium. Gates open at 6:30, with a photo and autograph session set for 7:30.