Most Recent Posts
- Stoops: UK-Louisville future games “up to our administration” but “not interested” in 9 SEC games
- UK football coach Mark Stoops understands obstacles, challenges at UK but “we’re going to play to win”
- Former UK great Jeff Sheppard excited about recruiting class, but says fans should remember players are young
- Kentucky fans even took time to throw up the “3 goggles” in the Alps
- Signee Marcus Lee says Kentucky “will refuse to lose next year”
- Even UK football coach Mark Stoops did not expect this much fan support at Kentucky
- Video: UK softball coach Rachel Lawson previews the Super Regional clash against Arizona State
- ESPN.com’s Jason King seems to have logical rankings going into next season
By LARRY VAUGHT
Here’s more with Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown:
Question: How many of the incoming freshmen do you need to be able to play next season just from a depth standpoint?
Brown: “I think the skilled guys have to be ready to go. I think the receivers and running back (JoJo Kemp) that we signed, they have to be ready to play. I would anticipate all four of the (receiver) signees coming in to have an opportunity to compete for playing time right away.”
Question: What do you like best about freshman receiver Alex Montgomery of Florida?
Brown: “He is consistent. He is from a winning high school program. He has great ball skills. His physical makeup is such that he is ready to play right now in our league. He is a big, strong kid and he has played in big games. He has always risen to the occasion. The state championship was probably the best game he’s had in his career. Even though they lost, he put up big numbers and had heck of performance.”
Question: What about Florida receiver Jeff Badet, a player some say is a bit cocky or arrogant on the field?
Brown: “He is a confident guy. He is a guy that didn’t show up on anybody’s radar until his senior year. He was a good player throughout his high school career, but had a great senior year. He is a guy that has speed, which is something we need more of. He is a guy that can make people miss, which is something we need more of. He will be given an opportunity to be a factor in fall camp. There is always a fine line between arrogant and self-confidence. I want those guys to be confident, but at the same time they have to respect what we are doing and who they are playing against.”
Question: How did you feel about tight end coming out of spring practice?
Brown: “It was probably one of our more consistent positions really. We have several guys that can play. Tyler Robinson. Jordan Aumiller. Ronnie Shields, we are kind of playing more of an inside receiver than a tight end. Steven Borden. Then Anthony Kendrick is kind of the wild card. I think he gets released full speed at the end of the month. That has a lot of depth there. We will be creative how we use those and get more than one on the field sometimes.”
Question: What did you like about Aumiller, a player who had a big freshman season catching the ball and then was basically a non-factor the last two years?
Brown: “He played really hard. He is a smart kid. He was physical in the spring. I think that was kind of his knock that he wasn’t, but he was. He played really physical. He made plays on the ball. He made a lot of difficult catches and did a really solid job for us.”
Question: Is there a receiver on campus who needs a good summer and then show you immediately in August he can contribute?
Brown: “Darryl Collins is a kid that has a lot of ability. I thought he showed some signs in the spring but was not as consistent as he could. I think he is a guy that can be a big factor for us.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
In just a few weeks, one player that could make a huge impact on Kentucky football should arrive on campus.
Butler County Community College receiver Javess Blue is a player that offensive coordinator Neal Brown is counting on to make an immediate impact next season.
“Any time you go out and sign junior college guys, especially high level junior college guys, you expect them to step in and immediately compete for playing time. He is a kid that (assistant coach) Chad Scott did phenomenal job recruiting. A guy we actually signed at Texas Tech and didn’t do what he needed to do academically,” Brown said.
“He went to Butler and had a solid freshman year and this year I thought he was the best junior college receiver in the country. Really proud of how he handled himself. Physically, he is ready. He looks how you should look. It is just a matter of him getting here in the summer, learning what we are going to do and then going out in fall camp and competing.”
How is he different than incoming freshmen receivers Ryan Timmons and Alex Montgomery?
“He is older. That is the biggest thing. He has had to play against better competition just because of junior college,” Brown said. “You are talking about at Butler where they were runner-up in the country. He is just an older, more mature kid. That is the only real difference with him, but it is a big difference.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops isn’t sure if all his signing classes will have such a large percentage of Florida players — 11 of 22 signees were Florida native — but he wants to continue to use his connections in that state all he can.
“There are a lot of great players that come out of Florida. It’s probably the way it fell because of our relationships with some of them. So I don’t know if it would be the exact percentage in the future, but I’m not going to put any limitations on it,” said Stoops. “There is a lot of talent down there but we’re going to work extremely hard to hit everybody we can within a four-, five-, six‑hour drive from Lexington.”
Chris Hays, Orlando Sentinel recruiting coverage coordinator, said he saw a “major push” from Kentucky this season in Florida that only intensified after Stoops, the former Florida State defensive coordinator, took over at UK.
“Stoops has a name to perk up the ears of players,” Hays said. “Kentucky did make a push here early. They got Blake McClain on board early and it was obvious they were trying to come into Florida and get things going like Iowa State has done. Look at Louisville with Charlie Strong’s connections and that roster and what they have done. Coming to Florida is a trend you are seeing more and coaches can be successful here getting great players because there are a lot of them.
“With Stoops, kids here are buying into his rah-rah philosophy of being part of a big turnaround at Kentucky. Pop Warner football is huge here. Kids start paying young and all buy into football.”
Florida high school football consists of eight divisions. There are 76 Class 8-A schools — and UK signees Alex Montgomery, Alvonte Bell, Blake McClain, JoJo Kemp and Jeff Badet all played for 8-A schools. Others played in 5-A or 6-A.
Recruiting analysts indicate 5-A to 8-A schools in Florida is comparable to the play of Louisville Trinity and Highlands, two of Kentucky’s best programs each year. Hays says Kentucky has a variety of playmakers with the Florida signees.
“Badet wants the ball and when he does get it, he gets the job done and is a big-play receiver,” Hays said. “I watched Kemp a lot. He’s a terrific running back. He can do a lot of things with the football. He has a tremendous upside. It will be fun to see him in the spread offense. He’s very athletic, has tremendous balance and does a good job after taking hits. He’s very determined and strong because he played linebacker the early part of his career.
“Montgomery, I am a huge fan of his. The show he put on in the state title game (nine catches for 199 yards and three scores) was something. He’s a very good kid, too. He is a tremendous athlete and the plays he makes are plays other guys can’t make. He just makes plays out of something that is not there. Javess Blue was highly recruited out of high school and then did well at junior college. I would think he can be terrific.
“McClain is surprisingly athletic for a defensive back. He played wide receiver on offense. He does a lot of different things. He can pick the ball and do a lot of things athletically to get the ball back to the end zone. He’s also a good kick returner. He will be a good locker room type of guy for Kentucky.”
Stoops called Kemp a “home run hitter” and a player that UK “targeted as a high priority” immediately. Badet was another player Stoops said his staff targeted immediately because of his “home run speed.”
The UK coach already knew plenty about Montgomery.
“He comes from a tremendous program, big‑time wide receiver that I knew about and had my eye on him for a good bit. Anybody that goes into the state championship game and has— what did he have 9 catches for 190 yards or something like that, you know he’s a heck of a football player. I’ve known Alex for a while. It was a great get for us, a guy that’s a strong receiver who can make plays,” Stoops said.
Another player he knew plenty about was running back Khalid Thomas and the Tallahassee high school where he played. “He is a solid player that’s going to give us some depth and have a punch to our class,” Stoops said.
Another player Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot knew they wanted to keep committed to UK was defensive linemen Alvonte Bell “We offered him at Florida State. Alvonte has great size range and great upside, and very excited to see him committed when I arrived here on campus. We worked hard at keeping that relationship with Alvonte with us because we think an awful lot of him,” Stoops said.
Offensive lineman Ramsey Myers was another early UK commit that Stoops says offensive coordinator Neal Brown and offensive line coach John Schlarman wanted to keep.
Offensive lineman Nick Haynes signed after being recruited for only about two weeks by Stoops and his staff. “Nick Haynes is a guy we just started working a couple of weeks ago and just had a chance to watch him and get caught up with him on film. Extremely impressed with his athletic ability. Again, great size, a guy that’s very versatile. We feel that he could play some center as well as guard. Excited about him,” Stoops said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
During his Franklin County career, Ryan Timmons was a dynamic playmaker at multiple positions.
He rushed for 1,306 yards and 25 scores as a senior and 62 times for 1,382 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. He had 33 catches for 1,004 yards and 16 scores in 2012 and 38 receptions for 1,100 yards and 18 scores in 2011. All three times he returned a kickoff, he scored his senior season, including on the final play of the game to beat Anderson County.
That versatility had him ranked as the nation’s No. 23 running back by 247Sports.com, the No. 28 athlete by ESPN.com and the No. 46 wide receiver by Scout.com. That’s why Kentucky running backs coach Chad Scott said the UK signee will continue to play multiple spots for the Wildcats.
“He will play some in the backfield. We will motion him back there just to get the ball in his hands,” said Scott. “That’s the good thing about this offense. You can be so multiple in a variety of ways to get different guys involved in the offense and get certain guys the ball in space and let them make plays. So he will be in the backfield.”
“He’s a guy that’s been running this offense since the seventh grade. He knew the offense. He knew that he could come in here and have a chance to compete early,” UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. “He’s a guy that’s versatile. We’re going to move him around. We’ll play him some in the slot, some at outside receiver, and then we’ll hand him the ball from the backfield some also. And at kick returner, too. He’s a guy that’s going to bring a lot to the table early in this program.”
Brown says he would love to see Timmons turn out like former Florida star Percy Harvin, a player Timmons says he admires.
“He likes Percy a whole lot. He better gain some weight. Percy’s about 215, so he better gain some weight. But he’s a guy that, sort of like how Florida used Percy, he can do a lot of things. So we have to put him in position where we can get a lot out of him — as a true freshman, hopefully,” Brown said.
Timmons will have a big advantage over high school signees Alex Montgomery and Jeff Badet of Florida as well as junior college transfer Javess Blue because he has played in a system similar to what Brown uses for five years.
“The good thing with him is that is this is really a unique situation. We are installing our offense and quarterbacks are learning off video now and others will learn it in the spring. Other guys will have 15 practices in it (during the spring),” Brown said. “When he gets here in June, he will have had five years in it. It is really unique situation.
“Some of the verbiage is different, some of the terminology is different. Obviously we are bit more complex, but he has had five years training in the system and the players here will have had only 15 practices. So he is going to have more of a working knowledge when he gets here in June than guys have been in college three or four years.”
Brown knows just from a perception standpoint how important it was to sign Timmons, a four-star player with offers from Florida and Ohio State.
“I thought it was huge for us. That was a great day for us (when Timmons committed). We were huddled around in the staff room watching that,” Brown said. “I thought he did a great job, thought he handled it well. His high school coach, Chris Tracy, they put on a great event there at the school. But that was big for us. He’s a guy who really showed other in-state recruits in classes to come to have faith in us.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky is up to 21 signees now and waiting only on Florida running back JoJo Kemp to get his paper work in to have every player who verbally committed to the Cats going into today now signed.
Athlete Khalid Thomas and receiver Alex Montgomery, both of Florida, are the latest signees and UK now has nine players signed from the state of Florida, an all-time high.
Khalid Thomas, Athlete • 5-10, 170 • Fr-HS, Tallahassee, Fla. (Godby)
Skilled athlete who was named the 2012 Tallahassee Quarterback Club’s Most Valuable Player of the Year after helping Godby High School win the 2012 Class AAAAA state championship … Had 13 carries for 70 yards in the state championship game … Scored the game-winning touchdown on a 28-yard run, breaking multiple tackles in the process, in Godby’s 21-20 title triumph … Team posted a 14-1 record under Coach Ronnie Cottrell … Outstanding senior campaign, rushing 184 times for 1,471 yards and 15 touchdowns … Also had 23 receptions for 218 yards and a touchdown last fall … Led Godby in rushing and receiving his junior season … Had 958 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns his junior season, while also posting 421 receiving yards … Also played some defense in high school, making some interceptions … Named Class 1A-5A all-state second team his senior season and was a Tallahassee Democrat All-Big Bend Co-Player of the Year … Brother of current UK linebacker Kadeem “Pancho” Thomas … The nation’s No. 27 all-purpose back by 247Sports.com … 4quartersonline.com said Thomas is “an elusive multi-purpose back that can give opposition teams nightmares.” … ESPN.com praises Thomas for versatility, being a playmaker and his ball skills … Name is pronounced “kah-LEED.”
Alex Montgomery, Wide Receiver • 6-2, 210 • Fr-HS, Weston, Fla. (Cypress Bay)
First-team all-state wide receiver from Cypress Bay High School, where he helped his team to the 8A state championship game his senior season, regional semifinals his junior year and state semifinals his sophomore season … Ended his high school career in fine fashion with a tremendous performance in the 8A state championship game … Had nine catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns in the final, including a nifty one-handed touchdown catch … His 199 receiving yards was a state finals record … Also played defensive back and had what appeared to be the game-winning interception in the state championship game before a late penalty nullified the play … In the two playoff games before the state final, Montgomery returned an interception for a touchdown in each, first for 34 yards and then 56 yards … Had 42 catches for 892 yards and seven touchdowns his senior year en route to first-team all-state honors by the Miami Herald … Ended his junior campaign with 27 catches for 556 yards and 10 touchdowns … Coached by Mark Guandolo … ESPN.com lists key traits as good hands and speed … Ranked as the nation’s No. 51 wide receiver by Rivals.com.
By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s a three-star player who had nine catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns, including two-one handed grabs, in Florida’s Class 8-A state championship game. Yet new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops managed to go into Weston, Fla., and convince 6-1, 180-pound receiver Alex Montgomery of Cypress Bay High School to verbally commit to the Wildcats.
Montgomery, who had been committed to Wake Forest, was a target of former UK coach Joker Phillips and his staff after attending Kentucky’s camp last summer. However, he didn’t seen to have any genuine interest in UK until Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown arrived.
“He catches the ball, no matter where it’s at. Over his head, at his knees, diving … he gets to the football,” said Chris Hays, the recruiting coverage coordinator for the Orlando Sentinel. “Doesn’t even matter how many hands he needs, one-handed, two-handed. He brings it in. He stole the show in the Class 8-A state title game and even though Cypress Bay lost a 53-50 thriller to Apopka, everyone was talking about Alex Montgomery afterward.”
Hayes referred to Montgomery as a “stud” and big-time prospect.
Here are some other thoughts Hays, who writes a weekly recruiting column as well as overseeing the newspaper’s recruiting coverage, shared on Montgomery.
Question: Why is he just a three-star receiver?
Hays: “First of all, I put no stock in the star system whatsoever, but he’s not higher than a three-star because the stars are not always right. He’s a tremendous player who didn’t score over 100 on the Nike SPARQ testing, maybe that’s why. He’s kept to himself, done his thing and had a terrific career. Cypress Bay has been a run-oriented offense during his time, but he’s still been able to put up numbers.”
Question: Will he be immediate impact player in Neal Brown’s spread offense?
Hays: “Can’t keep a player of this caliber off the field. He makes plays. He’s not a burner-type, but not slow either. He runs good routes and catches the ball defensively, and by that I mean he does a great job of shielding the defender away from the ball when going one-on-one, almost like a box-out in basketball. His field awareness is natural, instinctual.”
Question: How do you think Kentucky managed to come into Florida and steal him?
Hays: “They stole him because they have coaches who know Florida recruiting and I think that given the number of receivers the Wildcats are going to need in the new offense, he’s bought into the Air Raid philosophy and sees an opportunity.”
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Hays can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting, Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Mark Stoops’ Florida ties continue to pay off as the Wildcats have received a verbal commitment from 6-1, 200-pound receiver Alex Montgomery of Weston, Fla. He had made a visit to Louisville over the weekend but picked UK over the Cardinals and South Florida. The three-star prospect also had offers from Mississippi, Wake Forest, Duke, East Carolina and North Carolina State.
He visited Central Florida one week ago and Kentucky in mid-January.
He made his announcement via his Twitter account @IjustWannadoME: “I made my decision and I’m going to Kentucky #BBN WELCOME”
He finished the season with a bang as he had nine catches for 199 yards and three touchdowns — and also made an interception — in the Class 8A state title game.
He is the eighth Florida player to verbally commit to UK.