The University of Kentucky might not be in the market for a quarterback in its 2010 class after signing Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski in February, but it looks like the Wildcats will be active on the scene in 2011. Two of the nation's top quarterback prospects for the class of 2011 were on campus on May 31 for the Score 6 QB/WR Mini-Camp.
The quarterbacks who attended were DaMarcus Smith from Seneca in Louisville and Braxton Miller of Huber Heights, Ohio. Both will be juniors this fall. UK has offered a scholarship to Smith, a 6-foot-1 185-pounder who passed for 3,227 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 457 yards as a sophomore. Smith also has offers from Louisville, Illinois, Purdue, Ohio and Western Kentucky and has fielded calls from Louisiana State, UCLA and Florida State.
Smith's recruitment should heat up over the next couple of years, particularly in Kentucky. Smith's mother, Daytonya Ward, said her son and entire family are Louisville fans, and the U of L coaching staff has identified Smith as a program-changing recruit.
"They're telling him that he's the player who can really get things turned around in a positive direction for them, and they think he's the kind of guy who can bring other players along with him," Ward said.
But Ward said UK has made a positive impression. In addition to attending the Score 6 Camp, Smith visited Lexington for the Western Kentucky game in September and is scheduled to be on campus again this weekend.
"They really rolled out the Big Blue carpet for us, and we loved it," Ward said. "We always had a misconception that UK fans were obnoxious, but they were great. They were just like us. They treated DaMarcus like a celebrity. Kentucky will definitely have a strong chance."
Smith has no plans to commit early; his mother said he likely will wait until his senior year. Smith enjoyed his visit to Illinois ("He got to meet Juice Williams, who's one of his favorites," Ward said) and might take a trip to UCLA.
"His dad lives in Miami and wants him to come play ball down there," Ward said. "And we've got family all over, East Coast to West Coast. He's such a nice kid and doesn't like turning anybody down. He's got so much pressure coming from so many different angles, but so far he's handling it well."
Miller has offers from Ohio State, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin and several others. The 6-foot-2 185-pounder was named the outstanding quarterback at the Score 6 camp, winning the long-ball competition with a throw that reportedly went 73 yards. He also won the fastest man award with a 40-yard dash time of 4.47.
Miller hasn't been offered a scholarship by Kentucky yet, but he told the Danville Advocate-Messenger that he plans to attend a UK home game this fall.
Jarmon to enter NFL supplemental draft
Former UK defensive end Jeremy Jarmon confirmed via text message Saturday that he will apply for the 2009 NFL Supplemental Draft and is in Nashville working out. The NCAA ruled Jarmon ineligible for his senior season after he tested positive for a banned substance.
UK Coach Rich Brooks told Catspause.com last week that Jarmon intended to enter the supplementary draft, which began in 1977 and is designed for players who have lost their collegiate eligibility.
All 32 teams have an opportunity to make a selection in the supplemental draft, but they then lose their pick in the corresponding round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The supplemental draft is done by e-mail in mid-July, with each team submitting to the league the name of the players it is interested in along with the round in which it would like to choose each one. The team that submits the highest bid is awarded rights to the player.
The first wave of pre-season magazines have hit the shelves. While none of the publications predict big things for the Cats in 2009, senior cornerback Trevard Lindley gets plenty of love. Lindley is rated as the nation's best corner by Lindy's and a first-team All-American by Athlon and Phil Steele's College Football Preview.
Linebacker Micah Johnson was named second-team All-SEC by Athlon, Phil Steele's and Lindy's.
Phil Steele's, Lindy's and the Sporting News all have Kentucky placing fifth in the SEC East. Athlon projects the Cats last in the division. Nationally, the Cats were picked 50th by Lindy's, 56th by Athlon and 58th by Phil Steele's.
Catching up with Burton
Former UK receiver Keenan Burton has had a busy off-season. First he's preparing for what should be an expanded role in the St. Louis Rams' offense. The Rams lost seven-time Pro-Bowler Torry Holt to Jacksonville, and with Isaac Bruce having moved on last year, the Rams will have a totally reshaped receiving corps.
Both Burton and fellow second-year pro Donnie Avery will be in the mix for starting jobs. Burton caught 13 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown as a rookie.
Burton said this week that he's taken well to new Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and his coaching staff.
"I feel really good," Burton said. "I'm more confident, and these coaches have a lot of confidence in me and believe in me. But it's not a sprint, it's a marathon, so I'm going to try and keep building on what I've been doing every day."
While Holt's departure created a potential opening for him, Burton said he'll miss Holt as a mentor.
"He showed me the ropes," Burton said. "I leaned on him like a big brother. He kept me close to him and looked out for me. One of the things he taught me was that business is going to be business and to never think you're irreplaceable. He told me just to make it hard for the coaches not to want me here."
Burton still has another set of organized team activities later this month. Then he'll host the first Keenan Burton Youth Sportsfest in Louisville on July 3-4. The two-day event will feature free football and cheer camps at Manual High School, miniature golf, bowling, a 1.5-mile run and walk and a basketball tournament with various NFL players.
Burton said he's lined up former UK teammates Andre Woodson and Wesley Woodyard to participate, as well as former U of L star and current Oakland Raider Michael Bush.
"When I was smaller, my family didn't have to have a lot of money to send me to camps and things like that," Burton said. "That was one of the reasons I really didn't get colleges to look at me until I was a junior. I think it's just an opportunity to do something positive and memorable for the people in the community."
For more information, go to www.KeenanBurton.net.
Colorado transfer interested in UK
Ryan Wallace, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound tight end from Bowling Green, has left the University of Colorado and is considering a transfer to Kentucky. Wallace was a three-star recruit for the Purples, where he played for his father, Kevin. He was offered a scholarship by UK but decided on Colorado, where he redshirted his freshman year.
Kevin Wallace said his son has been given a release to UK, Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky. Other transfer requests have either been denied or are still being processed. Wallace's father said the player has a "great" interest in UK but would initially have to walk-on because of scholarship limitations.
The Wildcats' top three tight ends next season — Ross Bogue, T.C. Drake and Maurice Grinter — are all seniors. If Wallace ends up at UK, he will sit out the 2009 season and potentially compete for the job in 2010. UK signed two tight ends in its 2009 recruiting class, Terrell Mitchell and Anthony Kendrick.
'Best of the Bluegrass'
The second annual "Best of the Bluegrass" all-star football game will be played Friday, June 12, at Western Kentucky University. Kickoff is 7:30 EDT. General admission tickets are $10 with children under the age of six free. University of Kentucky signees who are expected to compete include Madison Central offensive lineman Larry Warford, North Hardin receiver LaRod King and Central defensive lineman Mister Cobble. Several players who have committed to walk-on at UK are also in the game, including Central defensive lineman Jordan Tennyson and St. Xavier defensive back D.J. Hall.