UK Football

Surgery sidelines Maxwell for bowl game

Kentucky senior linebacker Sam Maxwell will undergo surgery later this month to repair a torn labrum and will miss the Wildcats' upcoming game in the Music City Bowl.

Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks didn't specify when the injury took place. UK lost 30-24 to Tennessee in overtime in its regular-season finale last Saturday.

Maxwell has been one of the Wildcats' most consistent performers on defense, ranking second on the team in tackles with 80. His six interceptions are tied for second in the Southeastern Conference, and his 13 passes defended place him fifth in the league.

Brooks said junior Jacob Dufrene and true freshman Ridge Wilson would be candidates to replace Maxwell on the strong side, with sophomore Danny Trevathan taking Maxwell's spot in the nickel package. The coaches will go back on the road this week, Saturday and Sunday.

Interested observers

The worst-kept secret in the Bluegrass is the fact that Kentucky will be headed to its third Music City Bowl in four years. As of Saturday morning's practice, the Wildcats still didn't know which Atlantic Coast Conference opponent it would be playing at Nashville's LP Field on Dec. 27.

A strong possibility is Clemson, a 39-34 loser to Georgia Tech in Saturday night's ACC championship game. The Music City Bowl cannot pass up the Tigers if they are still on the board after the BCS, Chick-Fil-A, Gator and Champs Sports bowls make their selections.

When asked whether the team will watch the ACC title game, Brooks said, "We'll probably be doing some of that."

Crucial recruiting month

December is always a pivotal month on the recruiting trail. The UK coaches were on the road last week before returning to the practice field on Saturday and Sunday, and they'll hit the road on Sunday night and do the same routine over again.

Kentucky has 18 known commitments for its 2010 class and figures to be a little short of the maximum of 25 allowed by the NCAA.

"We're close to being done," Brooks said. "We probably have five or six spots that we can work moving forward. We're trying to make sure that those are used the way they should be used."

The Cats hosted several recruits for Saturday's North Carolina basketball game.

"Every weekend in December is important, but this one's a little more high-profile because of the basketball game," Brooks said. "And, certainly, it's an opportunity to show recruits what kind of atmosphere we have with the fan support. Many of them have been here during the season and seen it in Commonwealth. Now they can see it in Rupp Arena.

Among those in attendance was one of the Wildcats' biggest remaining in-state targets, Simon Kenton running back Miles Simpson, who was making his official visit to UK. The Wildcats also brought in several top out-of-state prospects, the highest rated being Eric Mack, a four-star offensive lineman from Calhoun County, S.C., who has committed to South Carolina. Anterio Sloan, a three-star cornerback from West Helena (Ark.) was one of the other recruits in attendance. Sloan is reportedly leaning toward committing to the Wildcats shortly after his visit. Three players who have already committed to UK, Ryan Smith, Alvin Davis, and Davin Hawkins, took in the game along with juniors Jon Davis, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound athlete from Eastern and one of Kentucky's top underclassmen, and Jesse Hayes, a 6-foot-4 230-pounder from Cincinnati Moeller. Davis has offers from UK, Louisville, Illinois and Purdue. Hayes is the son of Cincinnati Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes.

UK's strong pass defense

Kentucky is one of only five teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision holding its opponents to less than 50 percent on pass completions. Teams have completed 48.1 percent of their passes against the Cats. Texas Christian ranks first (45.9), followed by Alabama (46.5), Virginia Tech (46.6), UK and Nebraska (48.2).

Heggins finalist for award

UK offensive line coach Jimmy Heggins has been named a finalist for National Offensive Line Coach of the Year by Heggins is one of three finalists, and fans can vote for him at UK is ranked 19th nationally in rushing offense at 193.3 yards per game and is tied for 24th nationally in fewest sacks allowed at 1.25 per game.

Kovach serves as UK's SEC Legend for 2009

Dr. Jim Kovach, the leading tackler in Kentucky football history, was UK's Southeastern Conference Legend this weekend during the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. Kovach was honored at the annual SEC Legends Dinner on Friday and was introduced during Saturday night's game. He played at UK in 1974-76 and '78. He was a three-time All-SEC linebacker while helping lead the Wildcats to the 1976 SEC championship. He earned Academic All-America honors, and his 521 career tackles still rank No. 1 in UK history.

Kovach is the president and chief operating officer of the Buck Institute, an independent research institute dedicated to delaying the aging process and preventing chronic age-associated disease.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader