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- Calipari says Cats will press more, foul more, bump and grind, hip-check next season
- Caldwell County sophomore Elijah Sindelar special QB but also has big-time baseball options
- Stoops believes he has special understanding of high school coaches
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about working with head coach Mark Stoops
- Dallas Prime Prep will bring marquee players Mudiay, Thomas, Ferguson to Marshall County Hoop Fest
- Father had biggest impact on Mark Stoops’ coaching career and life
By EVAN CRANE
UK Media Relations
With only four days remaining until the University of Kentucky football team hits the field for the season opener against Louisville, head coach Joker Phillips seemed excited about his teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s effort at practice Tuesday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was enthused,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had a lot of juice, lots of energy and lots of enthusiasm. Guys are starting to get cranked up and ready.Ã¢â‚¬Â
That Ã¢â‚¬Å“juiceÃ¢â‚¬Â could be attributed to the physicality and the increased demand the UK coaching staff has put on the players. Phillips said increasing the demand on the players was important in order to continue the growth of the program.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We made it a physical camp because we felt that is what we had to do to take this thing to the next level and to continue the growth of this program,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is one of our goals, too. We have three goals: graduate our players, be known as a physical football team and the other is to win the SEC East.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips talked extensively yesterday about preparing for LouisvilleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s personnel, offensively and defensively. The Cardinals return 15 starters from their 2009 squad, including nine on offense and six on defense. UL also has a veteran team with 27 seniors.Ã‚Â Phillips said Tuesday that when you play a rivalry game like UK-UL game, everything goes Ã¢â‚¬Å“out the window.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“All that stuff goes out the window when you play this game, we all know that,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It will be a physical game and we want to make our team a physical team.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Earlier in the week, Phillips and the UK coaching staff announced the two permanent captains for the season in junior wide receiver/quarterback Randall Cobb (offensive captain) and senior defensive end DeQuin Evans (defensive captain). Seniors Mike Hartline and Ricky Lumpkin will be game captains for the Louisville game.
Phillips also announced that junior tight end Nick Melillo, redshirt freshman safety Dakotah Tyler and junior wide receiver Gene McCaskill definitely will be out for the game against Louisville. However, several Wildcats returned to the practice field on Tuesday, including returning starter at linebacker Danny Trevathan.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kyle Wiltjer says he has always Ã¢â‚¬Å“gone a different routeÃ¢â‚¬Â than many thought he should, so giving a verbal commitment to play basketball at the University of Kentucky without taking an official visit to UK was not that hard for him to do.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wanted to make sure I was not rushing into anything, but from day one I said when I found the right fit and the time was right, I would make a decision,Ã¢â‚¬Â said the 6-9 Portland, Ore., player. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I felt it was a good fit at Kentucky.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Wiltjer averaged 16.5 points per game last year and helped Jesuit High School win a second straight Class AAAAAA title. He announced during halftime of SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ‚Â Boost Mobile Elite 24 game on ESPN U that wanted to play for coach John Calipari .
Kentucky already had commitments from Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist and Anthony Davis, all top 10-ranked players, and Wiltjer didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to wait any longer to make his decision known.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Those other recruits did impact me,Ã¢â‚¬Â Wiltjer, who is rated as the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 19th best player by Scout.com, said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was just a culmination of things that made me decide the time was right. They had done a good job letting me know what Kentucky had to offer. The recruiting class they already have was big. I want to surround myself with the best players so I will be pushed every day. I felt with those players and coach Calipari, I would be pushed every day to be better.Ã¢â‚¬Â
His father, Greg, played 13 years of professional basketball in Europe after being a second-round NBA draft choice. He says him and his wife, Carol, were Ã¢â‚¬Å“100 percentÃ¢â‚¬Â behind their sonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decision.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Selfishly, we would love to see him playing in our own backyard and he had opportunities to do, but if you look at where the best opportunity was for him, the clear favorite was Kentucky because it met all his criteria,Ã¢â‚¬Â Greg Wiltjer said.
It also helped Kyle Wiltjer make his decision without making a visit because he knows current UK freshman Terrence Jones of Portland and was recruited for three years at Oregon by new UK assistant coach Kenny Payne.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Terrence really didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really influence my decision. He just let me know what UK had to offer from an inside view and what it has been like so far for him,Ã¢â‚¬Â the Oregon senior said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He only offered advice and told me to make the best decision for me. He is a good guy and told me what to look out for. I have known him from playing against him since he is from here.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I felt comfortable with coach Payne. That helped me feel more comfortable with the whole staff right away, and I wanted to pick a spot where I was comfortable. And I want to be part of the best recruiting class in the country and Kentucky gives me that opportunity.Ã¢â‚¬Â
His father says his son, who has dual citizenship and played on the Canadian under-18 national team this summer, knows players like Teague, Gilchrist and Davis well.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have not seen all these name players play. I do not know them as well as he does, but when he tells me he likes those guys and can play with them and be part of something special, I believe him,Ã¢â‚¬Â Greg Wiltjer said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has seen the best players from playing on an elite AAU program and in high school. If he feels he is ready for Kentucky, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s where he needs to be.Ã¢â‚¬Â
* * *
See more to come on Wiltjer as his father explains how this was not as quick a decision to commit to Kentucky as some may believe and what criteria went into the decision.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshmen Raymond Sanders and Jerrell Priester both like the talent they have found to play with at Kentucky.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The talent here is great. Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke, DeQuin Evans. There is a lot of talent here,Ã¢â‚¬Â Priester said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are trying to take this program to the next level and with the talent we have, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no reason we shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t or canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I always knew we had talent, but to get here and actually see the talent I feel much better. I liked the school from the get-go talent-wise and (strength) coach Rock (Oliver) has helped us elevate our skills and strength and speed. It should be a good year,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said.
The Georgia freshman says he was not even intimidated by Oliver when he arrived in Lexington in June for summer school and conditioning workouts.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He took me under his wing and he calls me Factor Back. We have a good relationship. He is a nice guy. He doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t scare me. He smiles a lot, but when we get on the field we know it is all work and no play. You just have to work your butt off, and then heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s happy,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said.
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect either freshman to be nervous Saturday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am not nervous. Football is what I do,Ã¢â‚¬Â Priester said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing to be nervous about. I am at a Division I school, but then football is what I have done all my life and am going to do. Raymond is the same way. We are football players and football players like big games.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
Both Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke have said freshmen Jerrell Priester and Raymond Sanders will be better players before they leave Kentucky than the two of them are now even though both Cobb and Locke are all-Southeastern Conference players.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is an honor to have great players like that making comments like that about us. You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make too much out of it. You still have to work hard and do things to get to their level, but it is great to hear Locke and Cobb say things like that about us,Ã¢â‚¬Â Priester said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Me and Jerrell are close. We are good friends. I am grateful that they (Locke and Cobb) see that in us. We work hard after practice. We are with them all the time. I learn from Locke all the time, and that is high praise from him. I hope I can live up to that,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips seems convinced they both can live up to the preseason hype.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Both of them have got really natural ability. Sanders, he reminds me a lot of Derrick Locke when he walked on campus, his leadership ability. He was the leader of Stephenson High School’s football team. He’s continued that here,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The first week he was there, Derrick Locke came up and said, I’ve never been around a smarter guy than this guy. He understands our checks, he understands our signals, he understands the tracks that the running backs have to make on each run, he understands the pass protection.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Then Priester, we think he has the same type of ability. The thing about him is he’s one of those guys that is not very big, but he’s very aggressive and he runs well. He has great vertical, which you have to have if you’re a small guy at the corner position. He got a lot of reps when some of our older corners were down. He’ll definitely play on Saturday. He’ll be an impact before this year is over also.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Priester would like to have the ball in his hands this year, too. He rushed for 1,300 yards and 16 scores last year. However, Phillips is going to resist the temptation to use him in Wildcat formation to run the football.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We want him to learn as much as he possibly can about the defensive side of the ball before we decide to give him some offensive side. He will be a backup returner in the kick return area. Then he or Mychal Bailey will be the backup punt returner,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I definitely think I can help on offense, but we have a lot of weapons, so I am not needed,Ã¢â‚¬Â Priester said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am needed more in the secondary. But any chance to get the ball in my hand, that is exciting because I know what I can do. But we have so many good players, especially Locke and Cobb. I will just wait my turn.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Priester has told Locke, who is considered UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fastest player, that he can outrun him. And he has been timed in 4.29 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Priester is very good and very fast. He is faster than I thought he was,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is really a good corner. I like to see him move around, but at corner he is excelling and getting better and better every day. He is just a little faster than me, but not that much. We can run together.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Jerrell is just an all-around athlete. He can do anything,Ã¢â‚¬Â UK starting cornerback Randall Burden said.
Priester says the same about Sanders, who admits he benefited from what Locke taught him during the summer.Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like a mentor. He is getting me through the plays and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not only helping me on the field, but the things to do in life and the work and how to stay on top of things and manage time. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good mentor. He has helped me out a lot. He wants me to do well,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said.Ã¢â‚¬Å“It does feel like we are a lot alike. I can ask him anything and get a straight answer. He is more like a big brother, someone I can just ask questions about how things go. We are both straight forward and speak our minds. We are a good fit.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Perhaps thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why Sanders wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t overwhelmed going into preseason camp when he was no higher than fifth on the depth chart.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know I am a freshman and the guys before me have paid their dues and know the system. Everyone was a star here. I have to work my way up to become a star here now. I know I can work my way up and learn. As I learn, I will excel,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders said.
ESPNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Erin Andrews will appear as a special guest at the 2010 WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Clinic.
Andrews joined ESPN in May 2004 as a reporter for the networkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s NHL coverage. Since the 2004 season, Andrews has served as a reporter for the ESPN College Football Saturday telecast, the Saturday Primetime college basketball game and Big Ten college basketball coverage. In 2005, she began reporting from the sidelines of the ESPN College Football Thursday Primetime series and added Major League Baseball sideline reporting to her responsibilities. She is now also assigned to the season-long Monday Night Baseball telecast.
The womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clinic, designed for women with all levels of basketball knowledge, is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Attendees will learn the Dribble Drive Motion offense, get a tour of the Cats’ state-of-the-art practice facility, and coaches’ offices. There will also be scheduled presentations that include behind-the-scenes looks at UK video, strength and conditioning and sports injury/rehabilitation lectures, as well as a Q&A with Coach Calipari, staff and current players.
Registration for the womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clinic will be from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. on October 6th in the Joe Craft Center.
There cannot be any recruitable age participants at the WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Clinic. Any person entering 7th grade-12th grade will not be allowed to register or attend.
Registration is available at www.ukathletics.com/camps. For more information, please contact the Kentucky Basketball office at 800.852.2875 or 859.257.1916.
The Louisville Sports Commission today announced the creation of the Howard Schnellenberger MVP Award that will be presented annually to the most valuable player on the winning team in the University of Louisville – University of Kentucky football game. The announcement was made in conjunction with the athletic departments at both universities and the blessing of Schnellenberger, who has ties to both programs and remarkable football credentials.
“It is a source of great pride for me to become a part of the Governor’s Cup Football Game,” Schnellenberger said. “This intense rivalry has become the defining game for collegiate football within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. My hat’s off to the Wildcat and Cardinal teams, coaches and fans.”
Schnellenberger was recruited to UK out of Louisville Flaget (fla-jay’) High School by the legendary Bear Bryant, earned varsity letters in 1952-53-54-55 and was an All-American tight end for the Wildcats under Blanton Collier as a senior. Schnellenberger was an assistant coach at UK under Collier in 1959 and 1960. As the head coach at UofL for 10 years (1985-1994), Schnellenberger is credited with rejuvenating the football program and boosted support for a new, on-campus stadium. He led the Cardinals to victories in the Liberty and Fiesta Bowls.
The annual renewal of the intrastate rivalry between the Cardinals and the Wildcats will be played September 4 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. The Howard Schnellenberger MVP will be selected by a vote of the working press covering the game as identified by the sports information directors from each school. Voting will take place near or at completion of the game at the discretion of the SIDs.
Schnellenberger currently is head coach and director of football operations at Florida Atlantic University, having built the Division I program from scratch starting in 1998. At Miami, Louisville and FAU, Schnellenberger-coached teams are a remarkable 6-0 in bowl games. Schnellenberger was an integral part of four national championships in college football and two Super Bowl victories. He coached the University of Miami to the 1983 national championship and was offensive coordinator under Bryant at Alabama for national titles in 1961-64-65. He was the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins under Don Shula, including the 17-0 season in 1972, and assistant for the Los Angeles Rams under George Allen.
Vaught’s note: Freshmen Jerrell Priester and Raymond Sanders could both make a big impact for UK this year starting with Saturday’s game at Louisville. This is the first of a three-part story on the two Cats.
By LARRY VAUGHT
One is from Georgia, the other from South Carolina. One will play offense, the other will be on defense.
Yet running back Raymond Sanders and cornerback Jerrell Priester share a lot of common traits Ã¢â‚¬â€ both are fast, both are quick learners and both will play as true freshmen for Kentucky when the Wildcats open the season at Louisville Saturday.
They are both also fearless and confident.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You just have to have the mindset and talent to come in here and not be scared. You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be scared at all no matter what. I want to work hard, get better and whatever happens, happens,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Priester, who was also a state track sprint champion in South Carolina.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I feel like I can compete with older players. I have respect for all these guys, but I came here to do a job and I think I have just as good a chance as the next guy does to play and start. I just want to make a name for myself.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just want to be a good football player. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t just want to be an average football player. I want to be great, and you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be great without having confidence. Confidence is the key to success. You have to have confidence to be successful,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
That confidence is part of what Kentucky coach Joker Phillips liked about Priester, who can also return kicks.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He believes in his ability and knows he can make plays,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not afraid to compete and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really talented.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Neither is Sanders, who was ranked among the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s top 15 all-purpose backs last year after rushing for over 1,600 yards and 25 touchdowns while averaging over 10 yards per carry
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think I can help the team. I want to take it slow and learn from the older guys, learn the system and learn how the coaches work. I want to fit in and excel from there, but I do think I can help the team in different ways,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders, who also played basketball and ran track for Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga., said.
Sanders is confident enough that he told senior Derrick Locke he wanted to take his spot away as UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s primary kickoff returner, even though Locke is considered one of the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say I was going to take it. I said I was going to relieve him of his duties,Ã¢â‚¬Â Sanders smiled and said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are good. He told me he came in the same way with the same confidence. I have to have that confidence to get on the field. He told me to just keep it up. He has been teaching me a lot.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Apparently both Priester and Sanders learned their lessons because Phillips says both will play. Priester is No. 2 at one cornerback and Sanders No. 3 at running back. Both definitely will play special teams and will back up Locke and Randall Cobb on kickoff returns.
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Charlie Strong isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the kind of guy who leaves things to chance.
The coach charged with restoring Louisville to the glory of its not-so distant past is a stickler for details, monitoring everything from the number of available towels in the locker room to where his players park their cars.
StrongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s meticulousness has instilled a renewed sense of discipline at Louisville, keeping the Cardinals on their toes and delighting a fan base turned off by the decidedly more relaxed Ã¢â‚¬â€ and ultimately unsuccessful Ã¢â‚¬â€ approach of former coach Steve Kragthorpe.
Still, after eight months of sweating the small stuff, even Strong isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t so sure about some of the big stuff, like what kind of team heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s got on his hands heading into SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s GovernorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Cup showdown with Kentucky.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I just donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know who we are right now,Ã¢â‚¬Â Strong said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re searching for an identity.Ã¢â‚¬Â
A certain air of mystery may not necessarily be a bad thing, particularly for a team coming off its worst season since 1997.
Strong brings in a new coaching staff, one that features LouisvilleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fourth offensive and defensive coordinators in as many seasons.
Former UNLV coach Mike Sanford will bring the spread offense he perfected under Urban Meyer at Utah in 2003-04. Former Florida secondary coach Vance Bedford will partner with Strong to help a defense that ranked 91st in the country last year.
It has sent Kentucky coach Joker Phillips to the film vault trying to figure out what to expect in a series the Wildcats have dominated in recent years. Kentucky has won three straight over its archrival, swinging the balance of power in the state firmly back to Lexington.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to be mentally prepared for a lot of different things,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just been a pretty difficult team to prepare for.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Well, not entirely.
Phillips has spent enough time watching StrongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s talented defenses at Florida have its way with the Wildcats over the last seven seasons to know what to expect whenever Kentucky has the ball.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a blitz-o-rama,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be blitzing as soon as he comes out of the locker room. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just what they do.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Even if the Cardinals wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do it with the same kind of athletes Strong had at Florida. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the least of his worries at the moment.
He knows his teams lacks depth and size. He can work on that. Right now, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to see some confidence. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a rare commodity in a program that has gone 15-21 since winning the Orange Bowl four seasons ago.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What these players have heard (for years) is Ã¢â‚¬â„¢YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not very good, you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do this, you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do that,Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Strong said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a confidence thing with them now because we have nothing to show for it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
During KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s exhibition trip to Windsor, I ran into longtime Kentucky fan Sam Robinson of Columbus, Ohio.
I met Robinson and his wife at the 2004 NCAA Tournament in Columbus when Kentucky played there and did a story about him and his wife since they lived in Danville from 1973-87. His wife, Pam, taught at the middle school here and he was a teacher at Lincoln County High School in nearby Stanford.
He shared an interesting memory Ã¢â‚¬â€ and photo Ã¢â‚¬â€ about former UK great Melvin Turpin, who passed away earlier this summer, that I thought you would enjoy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was at a game at Danville High School and Melvin was there that night. It must have been about 1982 or Ã¢â‚¬â„¢83. Another LCHS teacher took the picture of Melvin and me. I have saved it all these years,Ã¢â‚¬Â Robinson said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was so sad for me to hear that Melvin took his own life. I remember when he was in high school and his Bryan Station team defeated Dirk MinifieldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Lafayette team that won the state tournament. I think that was LafayetteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s only loss. I remember he went to Fort Union for a prep year before coming to Kentucky. He had a wonderful four-year career at Kentucky where he was a force inside with soft hands and a great shooting touch.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I still wish the Cats had shot even 25 percent in the second half against Georgetown in 1984. That Kentucky team had so much talent and was one of my all time favorites. I still think of Melvin, Sam (Bowie), Kenny (Walker) and all the players as young men in the prime of their lives which makes it so sad about Melvin.Ã¢â‚¬Â