It won't be official until early next week, but it looks as though Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips has filled two vacancies on his coaching staff.
Rick Minter and Steve Pardue were both present at UK's practice on Saturday, standing on the field observing drills. UK confirmed last week that running backs coach Larry Brinson and safeties coach Chris Thurmond were no longer on the staff and that a new defensive assistant would be hired to serve as co-defensive coordinator with Steve Brown.
Phillips said the school can't announce a hiring until a vacant job is posted for seven days. Two assistant coaching positions were posted on UK's Web site on Tuesday. For now, Phillips refers to Minter and Pardue as "temporary" employees.
"We'll talk about the new coaches when the time comes," Phillips said. "The hiring process takes a few days. We've got some 'temp' (temporary) guys working for us right now, some high-paid temp guys."
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Both Minter and Pardue have a history with Phillips. Minter was head coach at the University of Cincinnati from 1994-2003, and Phillips served on his staff in 1997 and 1998.
Minter, who spent this past season as linebackers coach at Indiana State, has also been a defensive coordinator at Notre Dame for two different stints, South Carolina and Marshall. Minter had a 53-63-1 career record at Cincinnati.
Pardue is a native of Hopkinsville who coached at Crittenden County from 1987-90 before going to LaGrange (Ga.) High School, where he won three state championships and developed a pipeline that sent several players to Lexington, including Wesley Woodyard, Braxton Kelley and current starting cornerback Randall Burden.
Porter gets release
Phillips said freshman defensive tackle Elliott Porter has asked for his release and will transfer. Porter originally signed with LSU, but the Tigers asked him to delay his enrollment because of a numbers crunch. He didn't arrive in Lexington until after fall camp had started and ended up redshirting. Phillips said homesickness played a role in Porter's decision.
"He wants to get closer to home, and that's understandable," Phillips said. "You feel for him and the situation he was put in. He came here and gave it a chance. He feels like he wants to be closer to his family and his family wants him closer to them."
Locke looks for big game
One player who is definitely looking forward to the BBVA Compass Bowl is Derrick Locke. Locke missed four games with a shoulder injury and is anxious to audition for NFL scouts. He said he expects to be 100 percent by the time the Wildcats face Pittsburgh on Jan. 8.
"I've got almost a month, so I should be at my peak by the time I get to the bowl game. I'm really looking to showcase some stuff," Locke said. "This is a big game for me. I don't know how other people are taking it, but my life is on the line."
Recruits in town
With the first big home basketball game of the season on Saturday, UK hosted several recruits this weekend. Jon Davis, who has already committed to Kentucky, was at Saturday's practice. Also at practice were California wide receiver Devin Lucien and Florida linebacker Demarcus Rancifer.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Lucien is a three-star prospect whose offers include UK, Michigan, Illinois, Oregon State, Arizona State and UCLA. A couple of other recruits scheduled to be in town included Georgia offensive lineman Taylor Gadbois and previous commitment Shaq Love. Gadbois, a three-star prospect, has offers from UK, Georgia Tech, Michigan State, N.C. State and several others.
Cobb gets to evaluate new QB
Mike Hartline's suspension could end up having an effect on Randall Cobb's decision whether to turn pro. Cobb will get a first-hand look over the next month at next year's replacement, either Morgan Newton or Ryan Mossakowski. Cobb admitted it's something he'll be thinking about, and he is already trying to develop a rapport with the new QBs.
"One of the things I got to focus on today (in practice) was making sure I communicated well with them," Cobb said. "We've got to have that bond on that field and see if we can make plays together."