No one will know what kind of impact Ridge Wilson will have on UK football as a true freshman until he arrives in Lexington this summer. But Wilson has shown on the high school level that he has the intangibles of a winner.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Wilson was the defensive leader of Central's back-to-back state championship teams in football, and last week he carried the Yellowjackets' basketball squad to its second straight Sixth Region title and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.
Wilson was a man among boys in the regional final against Shawnee, collecting 27 points and 18 rebounds in Central's 84-60 win. The Yellowjackets started the season 0-8 while Wilson and junior Tim Patterson were focusing on football, but the team turned things around once it had its whole roster intact. Central will take on Graves County at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Rupp Arena.
"Ridge has been a model representative of Central during his career," said Central basketball coach Doug Bibby. "He's been a warrior on the field in football and basketball, and he's taken care of business and conducted himself well off the field also. I'm sure he'll do the same things for Kentucky."
Speaking of Patterson, the hotshot junior, one of the best football prospects out of Louisville in years, also played a big role for Central on the hardwood: His game-winning layup pushed the Jackets past Fairdale in the regional semifinals. After basketball season is over, he'll attend the NIKE Camp this summer before probably being bombarded by the nation's top programs.
The four-star recruit by Rivals.com and Scout.com has already received offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Purdue, and he has heard from Florida, Florida State, Tennessee and Southern Cal among others.
Patterson will be faced with an interesting dilemma during the recruiting process. He grew up a die-hard Louisville fan, but high school teammates Wilson and Mister Cobble will be headed to UK in the fall, and former Central stars Corey Peters and Joe Scott are also Wildcats. Kentucky is also involved with another Central junior, wide receiver/defensive back Stephan Robinson.
"It's difficult," Patterson said. "I've been a Louisville fan all my life, but all my boys are at UK. We'll just have to see what happens."
Wilson can relate to what Patter son is going through. He's the nephew of former U of L basketball star Rick Wilson. But Wilson said he will do his best to get Patterson into Wildcat blue.
"Hey, I grew up a Louisville fan, too," Wilson said. "But in the end I had to what's best for me.
"Tim's a beast, one of the top players in the nation. I'm sure he'll end up in the league one day. But I really think he'd be better off at Kentucky because I can look out for him and make sure he's hitting the books and taking care of business. I can be like a big brother to him, and I really think he needs that."
Report: UK-Miami in Cincy set
According to ESPN.com, the path has been cleared for Kentucky to play Miami (Ohio) in Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium on Sept. 5. ESPN.com's Graham Watson reported that Miami has gotten its previously scheduled game with Northwestern for Sept. 5 moved and will now be able to play Kentucky. Officials from both UK and Miami said last week that the two teams are still working out the details and nothing has been finalized yet.
Drobney giving it a go
Another former Wildcat who worked out for scouts on Pro Day was Jeremiah Drobney, who lettered from 2002-05. Drobney's career highlights included a 38-yard TD catch in a 45-17 loss to Alabama in 2004 and a 2-yard touchdown reception from Andre Woodson in a win over Idaho State as a senior.
Drobney has been living and working in Lexington since graduating. He said he has been working out for the past nine months in preparation for Pro Day and looked to be in good shape. Drobney played his senior year at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds.
"I never really felt like I had a chance to give pro football a try, and since I'm only 25 years old, why not give it a shot?" Drobney said. "I've been training hard, so I'm just going to see what happens."
While latching on to an NFL team is a long shot at best, the Lexington Horsemen — who also had scouts at Pro Day — could be an option if Drobney is interested. The Horsemen signed former Wildcat quarterback Jared Lorenzen last month.
Moore hopes to catch someone's eye
A Wildcat who might fly under the radar into an NFL camp is Shomari Moore. Moore was one of the more physically impressive performers at Pro Day with his chiseled 185-pound frame and 4.42 time in the 40-yard dash.
One of the knocks on Moore during his UK days was his lack of height (listed at 5-9), and he was mostly a reserve nickel back during his career. But he was often a big playmaker when he was in the game. For his career he had 92 tackles, 61/2 tackles for loss, four interceptions and nine pass breakups despite starting only nine games.
Moore has a couple of examples he can turn to in his quest to play on the next level. Chris Johnson was mostly a reserve defensive back with Louisville but ran a blazing 4.3 40-yard dash and was drafted in the seventh round by the Green Bay Packers in 2003. And everybody knows the story of quarterback Matt Cassel, who never started a game at Southern Cal but was recently traded by the New England Patriots to the Kansas City Chiefs and will earn nearly $15 million next season.
"If you can play, the NFL will find you, so that's why I've really been working hard to make sure I was ready when it was time to audition," Moore said. "I didn't play (at Kentucky) as much as I would have liked, but I never lost confidence in my ability. All it takes is one team to notice you or like you for you to get your chance."
Tamme back in town
Former Wildcat Jacob Tamme was at Pro Day last week. Tamme is getting ready for his second year with the Indianapolis Colts, and he looked noticeably slimmer while watching his former teammates work out for scouts. Tamme said he weighs about 233 and hopes to have an expanded role as an H-back/pass-catching tight end. He caught three passes for 12 yards as a rookie.
Tamme said he thinks it will be a smooth transition from former coach Tony Dungy to new coach Jim Caldwell.
"I don't think a whole lot will change," he said. "Coach Caldwell's been around here for a long time."
Boyle vs. LaGrange
An interesting debate emerged at Pro Day between Tamme, UK linebackers coach Chuck Smith and former UK receiver DeMoreo Ford. Tamme is a graduate of Boyle County, which is where Smith coached and won five straight state championships. Ford played high school ball at Georgia's LaGrange High, where he won three state titles in four years and compiled a 55-2 career record.
It would have been an interesting matchup. Both programs were known for hard-hitting, smash-mouth football. LaGrange produced more Division I-A prospects, including Ford, Wesley Woodyard, Braxton Kelley and former South Carolina quarterback Blake Mitchell. But Boyle County didn't take a back seat to anybody with its fundamentally sound play.
Naturally, Ford said LaGrange would have beaten Boyle, while Tamme and Smith said Boyle would have handled the Grangers.
Spring practice dates
Here are the dates for UK's spring football practice. Times and availability for fans will be determined later this month:
Wednesday, April 1; Friday, April 3; Saturday, April 4; Monday, April 6; Wednesday, April 8; Friday, April 10; Saturday, April 11; Monday, April 13; Wednesday, April 15; Friday, April 17; Saturday, April 18; Monday, April 20; Wednesday, April 22; Friday, April 24; Saturday, April 25 — Blue/While Game at Commonwealth Stadium.