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By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky recruiting coordinator Chuck Smith knows the Wildcats have not been able to persuade some highly-regarded recruits to choose UK this fall. However, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not worried about how UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recruiting is going considering the Wildcats do have nine commitments.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I feel things are going pretty good overall. We havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t got everybody that we wanted, but we have got a lot of guys that we have wanted,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Smith. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think you never ever get everybody you want. That comes with the territory a little bit. At this point, I feel like we have a very, very solid group that has committed that we are really high on. We have some more slots to fill and still want some guys and we are working our tail ends off to get them.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Kentucky has finished second for several high-profile recruits recently. Smith understands why that could leave the perception UK is not finishing the recruiting process with some players, but he says it is important to also remember one other things.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you think about it, we finished first on 10 other guys. We are not going to finish first on everybody. I know the guys we really want that I take it personally when I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t sway them to see Kentucky as I see it because it is a great place to play football,Ã¢â‚¬Â Smith, a former UK linebacker, said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We have a lot to offer and I want them to see that and sometimes when they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t and choose somewhere else it kind of makes you sick to your stomach as a coach because you really wanted to make it happen and it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t happen. But I understand that is part of the business and you have to move on.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So does Joker Phillips, UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s head coach of the offense and a former recruiting coordinator.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I learned from Jerry Claiborne a long time ago not to worry about the ones you lose. Worry the ones you are getting are the right ones. We feel like the ones who are committed to us are the right ones. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s nothing to be alarmed over,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Phillips.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We went after the same level (of player) every year. We got in on more this year. We were on them longer. We are always going to try and get better players than what weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got. We feel like we have the right commitments with the ones we have. We are not worried or discouraged at all, Phillips said.
Kentucky has 10 verbal commitments even though Tennessee defensive lineman Tim McAdoo is only a Ã¢â‚¬Å“soft verbalÃ¢â‚¬Â and certainly has hinted he could de-commit. That could be almost half of UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 2010 recruiting class, or maybe more if a couple of players who signed earlier with the Wildcats but didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t qualify academically then do get eligible.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“One thing we used to do was take chances on grade guys. Now we are not taking chances on grade guys,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You get guys that are qualified now. It used to be that we would take a chance on good players who may not be here academically. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to do that now. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to fight those battles any more. Maybe late (in the recruiting process), but early you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take a guy who is not qualified. We have moved past that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Before we had a lot of commitments, but how many made it here. Some would de-commit, some would never make it here. Some that did, it was because nobody else would take a chance on them.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Phillips says UK still needs defensive linemen, more offensive linemen, one or two running backs, a defensive back and at least one tight end in its 2010 recruiting class.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We just have to find athletes we can plug in places,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.