Most Recent Posts
- ESPN.com’s Jason King seems to have logical rankings going into next season
- Mark Stoops on John Calipari: “I love being around him”
- UK football coach Mark Stoops understands that hiring Vince Marrow was a home run for Kentucky
- Video: Larry hears cowbells, makes a chocolate cow and soaks up the culture in Switzerland
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about recruiting the home state of Kentucky
- What role did Drew Barker’s mother play in his athletic development?
- Calipari will be keynote speaker at Iba Awards June 3 in Tulsa
- D.J. Eliot understands coach Mark Stoops “very well” can bring new ideas to UK defense
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach John Calipari doesn’t want anyone to think Thursday’s game with St. John’s is a walkover and merely a go-through-the-motions game to prepare for Saturday’s showdown with North Carolina. Here’s what he had to say about the Redmen today:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is a scary game. I just watched another tape today. They were up eight with six minutes to go on Arizona. They were up eight. And then all of the sudden it was a turnover, a breakdown defensively, another turnover and now itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s anybodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ballgame. But they were up eight with six minutes to go. ArizonaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a ranked team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re young, but theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re athletic and theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re active. YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re going to see a team thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s trying to steal every ball, dives on the floor, takes charges. These guys ball. They play. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be a good challenge for us, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something that we have to say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœAre you going to let them beat you to every 50-50 ball? Are you going to let them beat you on the floor when thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s aÃ‚Â ball? Are you going to let them outrun you down the court?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something that we have to see.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calipari certainly wants to make sure Kentucky fans don’t underestimate North Carolina Saturday even though the Tar Heels lost to UNLV Saturday, a loss that moved UK to No. 1 in the polls and knocked the Tar Heels out of that position.
“North Carolina was the greatest team in the last 22 years then they lose (to UNLV) and it’s ‘This guy can’t do this?’ What? They’re still one of the best teams in the last 20 years. They lost a game. The other team went nuts and made 13 3′s. With us, if a team comes out and makes 13 3′s, we’ll lose.”
Most teams would if they gave up 13 3- pointers. No arguing that point.
Here’s more with Calipari on the Tar Heels.
“North Carolina is still, if not the best team in the country, one of the best teams in the country. That’s why you can’t throw too much stuff at our guys. It’s as much mental. I have to build them up. You have to make them feel they’re as good as anybody,” Calipari is.
Kentucky is. Calipari knows that. UK fans know that. But Kentucky might not be quite as good this early in the season. Then again, who thought UNLV would beat North Carolina.
Don’t forget that the Tar Heels still host Wisconsin tonight and UK plays St. John’s Thursday before the marquee game on Saturday.
By LARRY VAUGHT
There is nothing better than knowing stories, information and comments at vaughtsviews.com in some small way can keep Kentucky fans serving in the military informed about the Wildcats.
HarrodsburgÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s J.R. Dean, a former University of Cumberlands football teammate with my son, is now serving in Iraq with the Kentucky National Guard and thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a chance youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll hear/see his unit singing “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” or doing the C-A-T-S cheer Saturday. “We are competing with another Kentucky Guard unit that is deployed right now. Also I do not know if it will just be in RuppÃ‚Â orÃ‚Â on network TV,” Dean said.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what Dean sent me about how much keeping up with the Cats Ã¢â‚¬â€ and check out the UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†flag flying where heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stationed Ã¢â‚¬â€ means to him while heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s overseas:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As a Kentucky Army National Guard soldier deployed to Iraq you quickly realize that you miss many of the little things about home in addition to family, friends, and other every day conveniences that you take for granted. This is never so true than with trying to keep up with University of Kentucky athletic teams. As I was reading vaughtsviews.com one night after getting off work the headline Ã¢â‚¬Å“How to keep up with the CatsÃ¢â‚¬Â caught my eye. For your average die-hard UK fan keeping up with Joker, Calipari and rest of the Cats is as easy as turning on the evening news. For the deployed soldier vaughtsviews.com allows us to get the inside scoop on what is going on and not be completely shut off from one of the little things that keeps us connected to life at home.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Whether itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s reading about the Cats grinding it out against Kansas, catching up with a Q&A with Joker about what the gridiron Cats face in the week ahead, or reading about future recruiting classes, vaughtsviews.com keeps us up to speed on what is taking place with our beloved Wildcats. When we do get a chance to catch a game we know what to expect when the players take the field or court.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“With the UK-UL game about a month away the ribbing from the basketball fans that I am deployed with has already begun. I look forward to reading upcoming articles and blog posts to add further fuel to theÃ‚Â ribbing I give back to the Cardinal fans. So with that being said, Larry I would like to take the time to thank you for keeping up with your blog and keeping us CATS fans updated on what is going on back in the Bluegrass State and I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to get back on R&R to catch the SEC Tournament and some of March Madness.Ã¢â‚¬Â
We canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait for you to be home safe, either, J.R. and God bless you and your fellow Kentucky National Guard members for all you are doing for us.
* * * * * *
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s another heart-warming military story from Wallace Allen, another die-hard Kentucky fan that served in the military.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I hope you can make out that is a UK sheet on the wall behind me in one of the pictures. It was used on my sons bed when he was a toddler; he’s now 20. Needless to say, I like to keep my UK “gear” for a very long time.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had just came back from a Convoy and a buddy of mine took this picture. He took the liberty of tacking that sheet up on the wall for me. Pretty nice of him considering he’s an IU fan; he’s in one of the pictures. I kept up with the Cats through e-mails, the Internet and delayed programs. While in Iraq, we had Internet and television from time to time. We were on an abandoned Train depot in Al Qa’im Iraq about 30 miles from the Syrian border and I thought we were pretty lucky in that area. We had a contracting company with us and they had the capabilities that allowed us to watch ESPN/CBS, ABC, etc. So, there were a few times I got to watch the Cats play.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It got hairy from time to time there, but knowing I was loved back home made it easier to get the job done. I was extremely happy to get home to see my family and so I could watch all the UK games that I had missed while I was over there. Before we left, I gave that UK sheet to a little boy while we were stopped on one of our last convoys. He didn’t understand a word I said, I didn’t understand a word he said, but when I handed him that sheet, he had a smile on his face, I had one on mine and we both knew what that meant. I hope that one day he becomes a Kentucky fan. After all, we are everywhere.Ã¢â‚¬Â
That included a friend named Mark that he “got to know” on one of the many UK fan message boards.
“He and I talked while I was in Iraq through the Internet. He told me that once I came home, he had a few tickets for me to any game that I wanted to go to. So, since I have never been to a UK game ) and I was home and almost recovered from an injury, I asked him for a few tickets to the Alabama vs UK game. He told me to go ahead and make plans to come home, he would have two tickets for me. So, when I got home to North Carolina and was able to get leave (vacation), I called my best friend, Harry and asked him if he wanted to go to the game,” Allen said.
“He thought I was kidding because it was Alabama and those tickets were gone. He met me in Louisville (he lived in Tennessee) and we drove to Lexington the morning of the game and met Mark in a hotel parking lot. To make the day even better, Mark had a tailgate set up right next to the stadium, right across from the entrance and we had a great time tailgating. We all know UK lost that game, but to be honest, I couldn’t care less that day. I was home, with a great friend and met another UK fan that I’m still friends with today. I also met some of the nicest people and fellow UK fans that anyone could ever meet.
Again, just another amazing story about the way UK fans follow the Cats and also about the generosity of a true UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†fan even in the midst of being overseas and facing daily danger.
* * *
Finally, I got this e-mail from V/R J. Michael DantÃ‚Â (MA1(sel) USNUSS Bataan (LHD5) Security):
“Love the websiteÃ¢â‚¬Â¦..being deployed for almost 9 months has been rough. Having your site to keep me and the other Cat fans out here has been a Godsend. Thank you so much keep doing what you are doing. Take care. Happy Holidays Ã¢â‚¬Â¦. I hope to go to a game when I get back to the states (FEB). Until then all the rest of the CAT fans out here will continue to read your articles and catch what games we can.If you get a chance to talk to Coach Cal, Mitch, Joker or any of the coaches or athletes at UK, let them know that they are being cheered for and supported from the other side of the world. I love UK from my UK shirts (basketball and track) all the way to my UK pillow case on my rack. Thanks again.”
No, again thank you for what you do for all of us and all Cat fans are cheering for you as well.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Since Kentucky only beats Tennessee once every 26 years, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s plenty of reason to still revisit SaturdayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stunning 10-7 victory over the Vols.
I still canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t decide whether to be more impressed with the guarantee Matt Roark made early last week that the Cats would win even though he knew he would be moving from receiver to quarterback even if no one else outside the team did or with the job the Kentucky defense did protecting the slim lead once Roark got the Wildcats in front.
I am also having a hard time deciding whether this postgame fan celebration was better than ones I had seen when the Cats beat Alabama, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina and the Commonwealth Stadium turf turned into a party place.
Even the players found themselves saying strange things after the game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“This was our bowl game. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weird to say, but in the locker room it almost felt better than a bowl victory,Ã¢â‚¬Â said junior center Matt Smith. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is just something that has been long waited for. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say enough about the guys out here and this coaching staff. The guys knew what we had with the big change at quarterback and Matt played unbelievable and all these seniors deserve this so much.Ã¢â‚¬Â
They did, but so did Smith and the younger teammates.
Smith is a Louisville native. The Cats had already lost to Louisville this season, a huge no-no for the players and fans from Louisville. But finally beating Tennessee takes a lot of that sting away.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am 21 and have been a Kentucky fan all my life and IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†had never seen Kentucky beat Tennessee. It was just something that was disappointing year in, year out and to be a part of it is a dream come true,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said.
Get that? Dream come true. How do you not get excited for him?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is something that everybody wishes they could do and IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am just so happy to be a part of this. After being here for my fourth year, I feel like IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†am a senior and feel like this is something that everybody who has built this program up needed,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said.
Say amen Big Blue fans.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Starting next year we have some guys to replace, especially in the offensive line, but it is up to those guys who are going to be coming in and who have played this season to get things rolling and this is a great jump start for that,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said.
Say a double amen Big Blue fans.
What had certainly been a forgettable season through 10 games got a lot better with the CatsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ gutsy play at Georgia and then the streak-busting win over Tennessee.
The win had to be extra special for Smith and his offensive linemen Ã¢â‚¬â€ Stuart Hines, Larry Warford, Billy Joe Murphy and Chandler Burden. They were expected to be the teamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s strength, but battled injuries the first half of the year that disrupted the lineup. Still, when the offense fizzled, they accepted the blame with no excuses. Saturday, though, the offense sizzled. I know, Kentucky had 217 yards … but that was against a Southeastern Conference defense that knew after the first two or three plays that UK couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t throw the ball effectively with Roark at quarterback. UK ran the ball 56 times, and Smith loved every attempt.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The coaches told us from Tuesday on that this would be on us and we were going to win the game for them if it was going to happen,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith smiled and said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had a new quarterback in, so there would not be a lot of checks or passing. We would be running the ball right at them and once they figured it out, we knew they would do things to stop us but it was still up to us to sort it out up front. It was a fight, especially when running the ball that much, but it was a fight we were not going to lose again.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Smith credited senior linebacker Danny Trevathan for inspiring him and his teammates with his emotional talk about what playing at Kentucky meant to him and why the team had to win this game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a guy that is always kind of motivational and he is back there telling us to get going,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a guy that speaks with his actions louder than his words and for him to stand up there and tell us all from the bottom of his heart that he felt we were all brothers and everything he does for us … he has our back.Especially with a guy that plays defense and I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talk to a lot or see in huddles, for him to have the offenseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s back means a lot. They saved us in this game. Other than one play they held Tennessee to nothing. It was a great way for Danny to go out.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It was, but it was also a great way for unsung heroes like Smith and his offensive line teammates to go out this year, too.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis was looking forward to a showdown between the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s two top-ranked teams when the Cats host North Carolina on Saturday. But that was before the Tar Heels lost to UNLV.
Now Kentucky has climbed to No. 1 in the ratings while North Carolina dropped to No. 5 Ã¢â‚¬â€ and still has to play Wisconsin tonight.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be crazy in Rupp for North Carolina,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Davis. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It will be a great, great game. Everybody has been wanting to see that game and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why it will be so crazy. We play a lot of big games here, which I like. I always want to get better and playing in big games against physical players who play just like us can only help.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Wildcats first host St. JohnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Thursday in the Big East/Southeastern Conference Challenge with ESPN analyst Dick Vitale in Rupp Arena to call the action. St. JohnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s coach Steve Lavin is not expected to be with the team after recently undergoing prostrate surgery and the Redmen are not nearly as strong as last year. Still, UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist says games like St. JohnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and North Carolina are fun.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am looking forward to them both. I am just ready to have some fun. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s it. The name doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean anything to me. I just go out and play and have fun and games like this it is easy to have fun,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kidd-Gilchrist said.
Sophomore guard Doron Lamb hopes his younger teammates learned some valuable lessons in the tune-up games UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†had last week leading to the high profile games Thursday and Saturday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“You learn not to force shots and let the game come to you no matter who you play,Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬Ë†Lamb said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t try to score cause you are playing a weaker team. Just go hard and play defense like it was a national championship game. You score points on defense. Play hard all the time. The easier games are good for everybody. You learn to just run your offense better, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make mistakes and be aggressive. Drive to the basket if you see a lane, make open shots and just stay in the offense. Then you do the same things in bigger games because you are used to doing them.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Davis said coach John Calipari told the players to use games like the ones last week against Radford and Portland to prepare for more difficult games.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Coach Cal told us everything that we are doing is a learning opportunity and we have to learn from everything we do. If we keep playing defense like we are playing and working on the offensive things, he said it will prepare us for tougher games coming,Ã¢â‚¬Â Davis said.
Kentucky showed spurts of brilliance against both Radford and Portland last week.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“That stretch of the second half was really, really good,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kidd-Gilchrist said after the Portland win Saturday. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think we are going to be good in the long run. We are just so young. We are still just learning this game, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going really good.”
Kidd-Gilchrist wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t worried that UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†was outrebounded by Portland.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think it is an issue. We just have to get tougher. That is one of the reasons (for being outrebounded), but it is not an issue,Ã¢â‚¬Â Kidd-Gilchrist said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all about effort and a matter of heart. We are going to be good in the long run. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really worry about that.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Calipari has not always been pleased with UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense, either, something Lamb can understand.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just have to get better. We are not perfect. We have a lot of help defense and stunt on the wings that is really hard to get right. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to drive to the basket and get easy baskets on us and try to even get a shot off with Anthony and Terrence (Jones) down there,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lamb said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are there helping, switching, boxing out on rebounds and running the lanes. We think we can bring it on both ends, but we know Coach is right about our defense having to be better for St. JohnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s and North Carolina.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Radford coach Mike Jones says beating Kentucky is not going to be easy to do for any team.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The tough part is when they are on that back line and you help at all and they just throw it up to the rim. Once they get up in the air, then they are pretty much on their own, but if you can get them before they are in the air then I think you have a chance,Ã¢â‚¬Â Jones said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“In the half court, the biggest thing was to just stay in front of the drivers because they all want to drive. I thought they did a really good job of getting inside our zone with drives.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d run up to them and the next thing we knew theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be by us. They were able to get a lot of good shots because they were able to get into the defense and kick it out. They are a difficult matchup, they have a lot of skilled players. Terrence Jones, Kidd-Gilchrist and (Darius) Miller are good at taking one or two dribbles and kicking it out.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Now the new Cats just want to see what the next two games will be like.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know our schedule when we signed here,Ã¢â‚¬Â Davis said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just knew Kansas on Nov. 15. That was only game we really knew about or talked about when we signed last year. When they pulled out the schedule and told us who we were playing, it was a shocker to be playing North Carolina and thinking they would be No. 1. But big games are part of Kentucky basketball and we canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to see what itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to be like in Rupp Arena.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
John Calpari’s go-to guy in the national media, ESPN’s Andy Katz, had this tidbit on his blog Tuesday about the Kentucky coach expecting the NBA to keep the one-and-done rule intact:
Katz wrote: Kentucky, which has elite freshmen Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague, could have been the biggest beneficiary if the NBA had changed the draft rule to two years out of high school. But ESPNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ric Bucher reported Tuesday night that the rule is likely to stay the same for the next two seasons. Wildcats coach John Calipari isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t surprised that the rule isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to change. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The players association isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to give it up,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Calipari said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want it to go to two years but that ain’t happening in my opinion.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Meanwhile, Calipari reacted to the Wildcats being No. 1 by conducting his two longest practices since the season began. Calipari said he went longer than two hours Monday and Tuesday. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We had to go up and down for Marquis Teague so he can recognize when he should make the easy plays.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Ã¢â‚¬â„¢
Many expected the NBA to implement a rule where players had to stay in school two years, but if Calipari is right that now appears unlikely.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Big Blue Nation Cares is closing in on sending its 400th fan to a Kentucky sporting event and Nathan Burns says he has met “dozens of amazing, giving, selfless UK fans along the way” after getting involved with Chris Cruz, who recently found a way to send another vaughtsviews.com reader and her father to an upcoming UK game that you will get a full report about after they attend.
But now Burns wants to do something special for his friend. I wish I could help him more, but here’s hoping just sharing his idea might find its way somehow to a certain Kentucky coach and he’ll be as touched by this idea Burns has for this generous UK fan as I was.
Vaughtsviews.com contributor Greg Weir took a few liberties with the traditional “Rocky Top” that UK football fans normally have to hear way too many times during a football game and redid the words to the song based on UK’s win over the Vols Saturday. Enjoy his humor and sing along if you wish.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky’s streak-ending win over Tennessee Saturday certainly enhanced the way high school seniors who plan to sign with the Wildcats in February feel about their future.
Here’s what three UK commits contacted had to say about the win.
Ã¢â‚¬â€Ã‚Â Jordan Watson, offensive lineman, Fayetteville, Ga.
He had planned to attend the game but that changed after his grandmother passed away last week and he decided to stay home with his family. However, he says he Ã¢â‚¬Å“watched the whole thingÃ¢â‚¬Â on TV.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was about as fired up as I have been in a while,Ã¢â‚¬Â Watson said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Watching and seeing Roark (a receiver who was forced to play quarterback) play so hard and lay his heart on the field was incredible. After the game, seeing the fans storm the field was incredible. I would have given anything to be there. Beating Tennessee is better than bowl games. I know what that win means.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Obviously, I hope it is a sign of things to come. I definitely could get used to beating Tennessee every year. I think things are really looking up with the program. We are losing some good players like (Danny) Trevathan, (Winston) Guy and three offensive linemen, but I am excited about the future. The fans are crazy, and IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†like that. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great place for me and we will be building on this Tennessee win for years to come.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Watson noticed that several recruits, including Kentuckians Patrick Graffree and Towles, posted Facebook comments after the game as did Toth.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There was a good bit of buzz among recruits about the game. Then I read a lot of blogs. There was just a lot going on,Ã¢â‚¬Â Watson said.
Ã¢â‚¬â€ Daron Blaylock, linebacker, Marietta, Ga.
He thought it was Ã¢â‚¬Å“neat to see fans charge the fieldÃ¢â‚¬Â after the game and watched parts of the game on TV.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was so exciting. I am so happy for (UK coach) Joker (Phillips) and (assistant) coach (Greg)Ã¢â‚¬Ë†Nord,Ã¢â‚¬Â Blaylock said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was already solid with Kentucky, but it was pretty cool that fans will react like that and cheer us on. I never had any doubts about coming to Kentucky, but this made me really feel good about my decision.Ã¢â‚¬Â
His brother, Zack, a safety, will also be coming to UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†with him. They have Walton High School in the state semifinals this week or they likely would have been at the game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It has been a while since our team has gone this far, but we think we have a great chance to win,Ã¢â‚¬Â Blaylock, who has also been used on offense and has 10 receptions this year, said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have played well on defense and just want to finish the season strong and then get ready to be part of the Kentucky program.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬â€ Josh Harris, running back, Maysville.
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s had a difficult season because a foot injury required surgery and forced him to miss almost the entire year. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s partially why he enjoyed being at Commonwealth Stadium so much Saturday.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was awesome to watch how excited everybody got,Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬Ë†Harris said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was huge to snap that losing streak. It may not have been the prettiest game to watch, but it was an awesome win.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t rush the field because my foot is still healing. I thought about it, but I was afraid somebody would go wild and jump on it. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get to go in with the team after the game, either, because I had to leave to get back home. But IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†know this makes me feel even better about coming to Kentucky. The way the players got so excited and played so hard just makes me feel even more confident about my decision.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He says his foot is improving and soon heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be out of the protective boot he wears and able to start jogging.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tough to watch your teammates play and not be out there,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m just glad IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†made my decision early and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have to worry about impressing anyone after IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†got hurt. UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†wanted me, and IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†wanted them bad. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why I loved the way they battled Saturday. They had not shot at a bowl game, but they came out with all they had and got a huge win.Ã¢â‚¬Â
By LARRY VAUGHT
Whether they were at the game or somewhere watching on television, Kentucky recruits agree that UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 10-7 win over Tennessee on Saturday was Ã¢â‚¬Å“excitingÃ¢â‚¬Â and certainly something they hope to build on during their future careers as Wildcats.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I was actually out with friends watching at a restaurant after we finished practice,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Highlands quarterback Patrick Towles. Ã¢â‚¬Å“In my lifetime, we had never beat Tennessee. Never. I was at the overtime game a couple of years ago with my leg over the side of the field and ready to rush the field (when UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†lost).
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was awesome to see Kentucky get over that hump and finally beat Tennessee. I saw the fans rush the field and carry (Matt) Roark off the field on TV and loved it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Indianapolis offensive lineman Jon Toth was at the game Ã¢â‚¬â€ and on the field mingling with UKÃ¢â‚¬Ë†fans during the postgame celebration.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I went right out there. It was exciting being a prospective student-athlete in that position,Ã¢â‚¬Â Toth said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t imagine what it would be like to be out there as a player when that happens again. It was definitely exciting to see Kentucky, which did not have the best year, finish the season with a win like that when they had not beat Tennessee in 26 years. It was a pretty electric atmosphere in there after they won. Fans running on the field like that were a sight to see.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Even though he was at the game and on the field before the game, no one told him about RoarkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s move to quarterback because of injuries to Maxwell Smith and Morgan Newton.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was sure a different look. With all the injuries they had at quarterback, who knew that would happen. It wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t a bad thing at all. Whatever works, works,Ã¢â‚¬Â Toth said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I know the fans definitely had a positive impact on me because IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†have seen a lot of programs where the fans are not that loyal. Kentucky fans definitely are some of the most loyal football fans IÃ¢â‚¬Ë†have ever encountered. This was not the best season, but the stadium was packed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had been to other games at Kentucky, but never one quite like this. Then after the game in the locker room, all the players were jumping around and dancing to music. It was just a good time to be a Wildcat.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Despite some speculation that he might change his mind about UK because of the CatsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ offensive struggles, Towles again emphasized he had never wavered in his commitment to UK.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t say the win makes me feel any better about Kentucky because I have always been 110 percent committed,Ã¢â‚¬Â Towles said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s never been any wavering no matter what anyone has said. It was good for the fans and coach Phillips to get the marquee win and is great momentum for next year, but I was sold all along.Ã¢â‚¬Â
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s partially because of offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders, who coached Peyton Manning at Tennessee as well as current UK assistant Tee Martin when he led the Vols to a national title.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He knows what he is doing and had a great plan Saturday,Ã¢â‚¬Â Towles said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“He has been getting a lot of flak this year about the offense not performing. It was not the system, but the execution of the system. On Saturday everything came together, they all played well and it showed on the scoreboard. I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t wait to play for him.Ã¢â‚¬Â
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll lead his team against Franklin-Simpson Saturday in Bowling Green when he tries to win a third straight state championship.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We are 14-0 and just broke the state record for points scored last week, but we are not satisfied,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have to go out and complete our season. At Highlands, success is based on state championships. It all comes down to Saturday.Ã¢â‚¬Â
After that, he definitely plans to play basketball Ã¢â‚¬â€ Ã¢â‚¬Å“my mom doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want me to but I amÃ¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬â€ and is still Ã¢â‚¬Å“toyingÃ¢â‚¬Â with trying baseball again.Ã¢â‚¬Ë†His grandfather is Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I need the spring to work out and get stronger for football, but I am not quite ready to rule baseball out yet,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
* * *
Coming next comments from recruits Jordan Watson, Josh Harris and Daron Blaylock on their reaction to the win over Tennessee.