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By LARRY VAUGHT
Joker Phillips certainly feels an obligation to keep the University of Kentucky football program moving forward. However, because heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a Kentucky native and former UK receiver, he also has a sense of history that he wants to share with his players.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why he started the Kentucky Football Captains Breakfast, an event he hopes to make an annual affair on the day of the Blue-White Game that ends spring practice.
Actually, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s even doing more to reach out to former players. He had a UK Football Alumni Weekend in conjunction with the Blue-White Game. Former players played golf, went to Keeneland and had a cookout on Friday and then came to the Blue-White Game the next day.
Former Kentucky captains in attendance at the breakfast were Tommy Adkins (1953), Glenn Shawn (1959), Cullen Wilson (1959), Sam Ball (1965), Doug Van Meter (1967), Wilbur Hackett (1969), Dan Neal (1971-72), Joe Federspiel (1971), Lester Boyd (1979), Jim Campbell (1981), Greg Long (1981), John Maddox (1982), Oliver White (1984), Ken Pietrowiak (1985), Bill Ransdell (1986), Bo Smith (1988), Chris Chenault (1988), Andy Murray (1989), Oliver Barnett (1989), Freddie Maggard (1990), Greg Lahr (1991), Pookie Jones (1992-93), Dean Wells (1992), Robert Stinson (1994), George Massey (1999), Grayson Smith (2000), Shane Boyd (2004), Tommy Cook (2005), Andre Woodson (2007), Wesley Woodyard (2007), Braxton Kelley (2008) and Tony Dixon (2008).
Phillips had about 20 of his current players, those he felt can be team leaders, at the breakfast to mingle with the former UK leaders. Those players got to hear from Federspiel, Wilson, Pietrowiak, Woodyard, Hackett and Ball. Current Cats DeQuin Evans and Randall Cobb also spoke.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a great idea. Former players want a chance to have ownership in the program. It was so cool to see players like Woodson, Woodyard, Kelley, Dixon, Jacob Tamme, Keenan Burton, Dicky Lyons and others walking the sideline talking to current players during the Blue-White Game. It was also nice to see so many former Wildcats working out at the UK facility recently because that has to send a strong message to current players.
Will this win games for Phillips? Not directly.
Will this help the program? Absolutely because anything that allows former players to influence younger players and stay involved in the program is a huge plus and hereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hoping Phillips continues to find innovative ways to enhance the program.