UK Football

Mama’s boys? A future astronaut? There’s a lot to learn about this year’s Cats.

Kentucky fans got their first look at junior-college transfer Terry Wilson in the Blue-White Spring Game this past April. Wilson completed 10 of 24 passes for 131 yards and threw an interception. He rushed five times for 14 yards.
Kentucky fans got their first look at junior-college transfer Terry Wilson in the Blue-White Spring Game this past April. Wilson completed 10 of 24 passes for 131 yards and threw an interception. He rushed five times for 14 yards. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Maybe being called a “mama’s boy” is offensive to some, but many of the Kentucky newcomers don’t seem to mind the moniker if their media guide bios are any indication.

Ten of the Cats’ newcomers — including quarterback Terry Wilson, running backs Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke — all answer the question about the person who has most influenced him in his life with “mom.”

For Smoke, a 5-foot-10, 225-pound back from Wetumpka, Ala., it’s his mother “because she works hard to make sure her kids are taken care of.”

New center Quintin Wilson of Cincinnati calls his mom “my rock.”

It’s a common theme, especially among the newcomers this season, in Kentucky’s annual media guide.

There are plenty of fun things to learn about all of the Kentucky players as they report to campus this week to begin fall camp.

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The 2018 Kentucky football media guide. UK Athletics

Here are some highlights:

Of the many players who called their mom the most influential or important in their lives, one player stands out from the rest: linebacker Chris Whittaker divulged that his mother, Jewell McDonald, saved him from drowning when he was just 4 years old.

Kentucky fans can thank the mom of fellow UK linebacker Alex King for his interest in football. The redshirt freshman from Mason, Ohio, notes that he started playing football only after he saw pictures of his mom, Andrea, on a youth league football team when she was a girl.

There is a nine-year age difference between the oldest player on the team: Australian punter Max Duffy (26) and the youngest player on the team, Rodriguez, the running back. The true freshman won’t even turn 18 until Sept. 26, the week before the Mississippi State game this season.

If football doesn’t work out, there are a lot of players who say they want to grow up and be coaches, but there are some other interesting life goals, too.

Like Tyrell Aijan, who is pondering a career in pharmacology. Fellow defensive back Derrick Baity would like to be a family therapist. Just across the field from them, redshirt freshman safety Yusuf Corker reports his dream job is to be a pediatric surgeon.

Maybe Corker will work side by side in that next career with walk-on punter Colin Goodfellow, who says his goal is to be a registered nurse anesthetist.

Quarterback Danny Clark says his dream job is to work on custom muscle cars.

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UK center Drake Jackson said if he wasn’t playing football he’d be an astronaut. Mark Cornelison Staff File Photo

Linebacker Jamin Davis is pondering mechanical engineering while offensive lineman Sebastien Dolcine is going with the computer type of engineering.

Defensive lineman Marquan McCall says he wants to be a sign language interpreter.

And wide receiver Josh Ali might one day like to sell you your next house as a real-estate agent.

And if you want to have pups in the backyard of that new house, look no further than tight end Justin Rigg, who is pondering a career as a veterinarian and says he couldn’t live without his dogs.

Rigg might go into practice with left tackle Landon Young, who has similar aspirations.

Shoot for the stars professionally, and you might run into center Drake Jackson, who says if he wasn’t playing football, he’d be an astronaut.

Defensive lineman Adrian Middleton says he wears the No. 99 because he likes the symmetry, which is not surprising when you know that he one day wants to be a graphic artist.

Hungry? Several players, including linebacker Josh Allen and kicker Miles Butler both admit they enjoy cooking. Allen discussed at the recent Southeastern Conference Media Days that he has become quite skilled on the grill.

Running back Benny Snell won’t need Allen — or the grill — for help making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with banana, which he says is his favorite meal.

There are singing sensations on the team, including linebacker Kengera Daniel, who said he was in the chorus in high school. Wide receiver transfer Ahmad Wagner also claims to be a talented singer.

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Kentucky running back A.J. Rose said in the media guide he aspires to become an undercover police officer. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

While we’re on music, two players — Wagner and offensive tackle E.J. Price — admit to being closet country music fans. Price credits teammate Austin Dotson with teaching him about country music.

A few players claim that they’re sometimes mistaken for famous people, like new wide receiver Bryce Oliver, who says he’s a ringer for Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook. Tight end Keaton Upshaw says he’s sometimes mistaken for another NBA star: Klay Thompson of the Warriors.

When their playing days are over, several players say they’d like to take a turn as a sports analyst, including Allen, cornerback Lonnie Johnson, linebacker Chris Oats and wide receiver Allen Dailey.

Perhaps behind the scenes on their show will be new punter Chance Poore, whose dream job is to be a camera man.

Maybe they’ll interview C.J. Conrad, who says his dream job — other than the NFL, of course — is to be the agent of fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots. Maybe Conrad can start a sports agency with Cedrick Dort Jr., who says it’s a job he’s considering, too.

Unrelated but still fun: Dort plays the snare drum and Young is learning the banjo.

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Punter Max Duffy is the oldest Wildcat at age 26. UK Athletics

Predictably for a guy who wants to be a sports analyst, Oats says his can’t-miss television show is “SportsCenter.” But players like linebacker Jordan Jones (“Jersey Shore”) and offensive lineman Kenneth Horsey (“Scandal”) have other TV tastes entirely.

Two players have familial connections with which you might be familiar, including offensive lineman Darian Kinnard, who reports he is related to Dolly Parton. And then there’s walk-on kicker Matt Ruffolo, who says his fourth cousin is actor Mark Ruffalo of Incredible Hulk fame.

Another walk-on, tight end Drew Schlegel, ponders life as a professional rugby player or a boxer and says most people don’t know that he “likes to wear jean shorts.”

Another walk-on, Brett Slusher, who says he was named for former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, is thinking about playing poker professionally one day.

Cornerback Stanley Garner says one word to describe him is “mysterious.” Hmmm. Other potential future men of mystery include linebacker Boogie Watson, who wants to be a U.S. Marshal. Watson also reports he’s a ”great tap dancer,” but it’s hard to know if that’s part of the job description.

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Sophomore place-kicker Matt Ruffolo says he has a cousin who is a motion picture star. UK Athletics

Sophomore wide receiver Clevan Thomas wants to one day be in the FBI. They might work side-by-side with walk-on wide receiver John Diado, who says he would like to be in the CIA, and notes that he speaks fluent Russian.

Linebacker Kash Daniel also is thinking about one day being a federal officer. And running back A.J. Rose, an Eagle Scout, says he has aspirations of being an undercover police officer when his playing days are done.

If things go right, maybe all of those aforementioned law men will work in concert to protect teammate Zy’Aire Hughes, who says he wants to be president of the United States one day.

The wide receiver already has quite a story to tell on the campaign trail, noting in his bio that he had to be brought back to life after being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.

A.J. Rose rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns as the Blue (offense) beat the White (defense) 45-32 in the Kentucky football team’s annual Blue-White Game.

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