Most Recent Posts
- Young Kentucky fan (@nosidam__) shares her passion for Kentucky sports
- 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
By LARRY VAUGHT
During his days at Boyle County High School and Western Kentucky University, Brandon Smith was a quarterback and set numerous records during his prep career. Now he’s the defensive coordinator at South Warren High School and has two players — defensive tackle Adrian Middleton and linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe.
Middleton has offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Indiana State, Western and Middle Tennessee. Iyiegbuniwe only has an offer from Western so far, but Smith expects more schools to soon offer Iyiegbuniwe.
Smith, the son of former Boyle County and UK linebackers coach Chuck Smith, says South Warren coach Mark Nelson has done an amazing job. “To have only played two years of varsity football and have two Division I players on the team says a lot about what kind of coach he is and what he expects of his players. I’m not sure if another school in the state currently has two D1 players,” Smith said.
The 6-4, 275-pound Middleton got a visit from UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who played for Chuck Smith, and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh. They recorded video to show head coach Mark Stoops, who extended the offer to Middleton after he returned from the NFL draft.
Florida — and assistant coach Joker Phillips — has also shown interest in Middleton.
“I think he’s an elite player,” Smith said. “He is a big, strong kid that can move like a skilled kid. It is very hard to find players that can do that. He tremendous explosion off the ball and he is very football intelligent. He doesn’t just guess where the ball is going — he reads it.”
Smith offered these other insights on Middleton and Iyiegbuniwe.
Question: What kind of upside does Middleton have in college and what are you looking for him to improve this year?
Smith: “He has a huge upside. He is very young. He will play his entire senior year at 17 years old. He really hasn’t learned how to use what he has yet. Sometimes you see kids that peak out in high school, but that is not the case with him. His best football is ahead of him.”
Question: What kind of summer plans does he have as far as camps/combines to attend?
Smith: “All of this has hit suddenly in the last couple of weeks. He will have to sit down and figure out a plan of where he wants to visit this summer. He will probably do that in the next couple of weeks.”
Question: Do you expect even more schools to get involved in his recruiting?
Smith: “Yes. Defensive linemen are very hard to find. He is very good at what he does. There are several more SEC and Big 10 schools that have expressed a strong interest and are scheduled to visit him in school in the coming weeks.”
Question: What kind of person/student is he?
Smith: “He is a great kid. He has very likable personality. If you only knew him off the field you wouldn’t think he was capable of the things he does on it. He is always smiling and in a good mode.
Question: What makes you feel more offers will be coming for Iyiegbuniwe and what are his strengths/weaknesses?
Smith: “Joel is a solid 6-2, 210 pounds and can run. He is moving from safety to linebacker this year and that is where the majority of the schools are projecting him as. They don’t have film to go by, so he is going to be a camp guy. If they are not an offensive lineman/defensive lineman, most of the time they (college coaches) want to see you run and change direction. He does these things very well. He has only played football two years (basketball player). He has not even tipped the iceberg of what he’s capable of.”
Question: What kind of summer plans does he have?
Smith: “He has several camps he is planning to attend. Once again, he will have to sit down and plan out the stops he is going to make. I think that will come after all the schools come through and he decides which ones he is serious about.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Franklin County standout Ryan Timmons still is not ready to make his college choice and recently has added scholarship offers from California and Missouri to those he already had and Florida — thanks to receivers coach Joker Phillips — continues to make a push for him.
The versatile Timmons is one of the state’s top players. He had 72 rushes for 1,260 yards and 25 scores for 12-1 Franklin last season and caught 29 passes for 970 yards and 17 more scores. He had 45 total touchdowns and scored 260 points.
Franklin coach Chris Tracy says Timmons, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds at a Kentucky camp, will make his college choice known either Feb. 6 (the first day of the national signing period) or Feb. 7 during a ceremony at the high school.
Tracy says new Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown has “been to see him three or four times” already, including Tuesday night.
“I think he is a priority for Kentucky and this new staff,” Tracy said. “Florida has really jumped back into the picture. They have not offered a scholarship yet, but they are really close. The one thing Florida likes is that he can do it all. They don’t have that type of guy now who can play the slot, play running back, play receiver and just do it all. All through middle school, he was a tailback.”
The coach says Timmons has a “great relationship” with Illinois coaches and that they “have been there from day one” with him.
Kentucky did not seem positioned that strongly with Timmons until the staff changed. However, Tracy says Timmons always liked head coach Joker Phillips and recruiting coordinator Chuck Smith.
“I think his big issue with them had more to do with winning than anything else,” Tracy said. “He really, really likes Joker a lot. He had a great relationship with coach Smith. But it had more to do with winning.
“Being so close to home also plays a role in this. Expectations are different when you stay home to play. That’s something he has to juggle in his mind. Do I want to be that close to home and be the crown jewel as the home state guy? I know he really likes coach Brown a lot. He came in with guns blazing to try and pick him up.
“He will go there and probably know more about the offense than most kids who go through spring practice. That’s our offense. This is my seventh or eighth year running this offense and one of the first clinics I went to about this offense there was a young Neal Brown of Troy University there as a speaker. So Ryan knows plenty about the offense.”
Tracy also always knew plenty about Timmons. Tracy was head coach at Woodford County when Timmons was a freshman and Timmons led Franklin to a win over Woodford.
“They ran the option and he was one of the wingbacks. I remember the quarterback tossing him the ball at the 1 (yard line) and he took it 99 yards in a game against Lafayette,” Tracy said. “That did not have a bearing on me taking the job at Franklin the next year, but there were people there telling me he could be awesome. You could tell he had that special it factor about him.”
He apparently still has it.
“Several college coaches have been telling he has the ability to play in the NFL from what they have seen on film. They say he could put on 10 to 15 pounds and play in the NFL right now,” Tracy said. “I’m so close to him, I don’t see that. But there are coaches telling me that.”
Tracy said at Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights (camp) last summer that Timmons outran everyone he was paired against, including skilled players who have verbally committed to the Buckeyes. “We are not talking by a step or head, but by a yard or more,” Tracy said.
The coach says his star runs “good routes” that make him seem even faster and that Franklin offensive coordinator Eddie James, who has coached Timmons since middle school, designed schemes to take advantage of his versatility. “You just didn’t know where he would be and I would think it would be the same in college for him,” Tracy said.
Tracy isn’t sure exactly what criteria Timmons will use to make his college choice.
“It is a decision him and family will have to make. I try to lay information out to him and let him decide what to do,” Tracy said. “Our defensive coordinator wrote out some questions for him and had him answer about each school and for him to write the pros and cons of each school so he could compare them.
“One thing we have talked about is him making up his mind before Feb. 1 and then telling the program he has committed. But we’ll keep his decision quiet until he can make his announcement to everyone at the same time.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky recruiting coordinator Chuck Smith believes adding Neal Brown as offensive coordinator will do more than just help UK’s offensive production.
Smith understands how important having a recruiting base in Texas could be for UK, and that’s something Brown has after spending the last three years as Texas Tech’s offensive coordinator.
“I think that will be really big,” said Smith, who was Brown’s high school coach at Boyle County. “He obviously has a pretty good name in Texas because of the things he did at Texas Tech. His name has a lot of notoriety. I was in Target (in Lexington) and two guys were talking about Neal Brown’s offense and how much things will change next year under him.
“He has already brought a lot of excitement to UK. His name is very recognizable. People know who he is. They all have a lot of respect for what he has done. I think Neal will be a very good recruiter for Kentucky because he’s fun to be around and believes what he says. That will come across to recruits.”
Smith always knew that Brown had the potential to be a successful coach long before he went to UK as a walk-on receiver, played his last two years at Massachusetts and then started his coaching career that eventually took him to Troy and then Texas Tech.
“I knew if he ever decided to coach that he would be a really good coach. He was always thinking when he was playing,” Smith said. “He was always saying this would work, that would work. He was always coaching in his own way when he was playing. In his mind he was always thinking like a coach and what would work or not work in a game.
“He just had that kind of personality where he was not cocky, but had a swagger that he could be good in what every he was doing. That had a lot to do with his success as player. He believed he had all the answers, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. He just had a lot of confidence in his ability and thought process. But he was always fun to be around because he was always thinking of ways to help you win.”
Smith, a Jeffersontown native, also played at UK and spent eight seasons as linebackers coach at Kentucky under Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips that he enjoyed. He sees no reason Brown won’t enjoy coming back home as well.
“I think it will be all good. He has a lot of confidence in what he knows and what he believes in. He has always been confident in what he does,” Smith said. “There is no doubt in his mind that he is going to get the offense going the way he wants.
“Being back home and at his home school, there is a lot of good to it. I am sure he will feel comfortable and feel happy back at home. I think it is a good move for him and Kentucky because I expect him to do really well.”
But he’s only 32 years old and next season he’ll have to match wits with Alabama and coach Nick Saban. Is Brown ready for that?
“He will do absolutely fine,” Smith laughed and said. “He knows in his mind he will and I know he will. I know that he will do really well. He is ready for this. No question in my mind about that. He doesn’t need my approval. He has proven himself nationwide. He’s earned this chance and he’ll make the most of it.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Since he coached Neal Brown in high school, former Kentucky linebackers coach Chuck Smith is obviously going to be a bit biased in his opinion about the Texas Tech offensive coordinator. However, he has no doubts that Brown would be a “tremendous hire” for new UK coach Mark Stoops to run the Kentucky offense.
“I just think it would be a tremendous hire for them if it happens,” said Smith, who was also UK’s recruiting coordinator. “Neal has such a great reputation right now. He is a hot name and has done a wonderful job. His offense has been in the top 15 (nationally) ever since he has been doing it.
“It would be a tremendous hire for Kentucky if they could lure him away from Texas Tech and get him to come here. I think it would be a big plus for the football program and state and Mark Stoops.”
Browns’ Texas Tech offense averaged over 500 yards per game this year and has been one of the Big Ten’s best the last three years under him. Before that, he had a productive offense at Troy.
What advice would Smith, who worked five years under Rich Brooks and three under Joker Phillips, give Brown about whether he should come to Kentucky?
“I would tell him it is a good place. I love the state of Kentucky,” Smith, a former UK linebacker and Jeffersontown native, said. “I love Kentucky football. My opinion would be biased. I am going to be a Kentucky fan for the rest of my life. I am probably not going to leave the state. I always will follow Kentucky football, so my opinion about him coming would be biased because I still love Kentucky.
“He just has to trust his gut and make his own decision. I have never heard a bad thing about Stoops. He sounds like a really good hire and someone that Neal could really work well with. Neal would love it here and fans would love him and his offense. I have no idea if it will happen, but it would be great for Neal and Kentucky if it did.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky linebacker coach Chuck Smith on two of his freshmen players and also opening the season Sept. 2 at Louisville.
Question: Do true freshman Khalid Henderson or Kadeem Thomas have a chance to play this year in some role like Wesley Woodyard, Micah Johnson, Danny Trevathan and Braxton Kelley all did?
Smith: “Yes, but I think Henderson probably especially. Pancho (Thomas) I think is nursing some injuries, but I think Khalid has a chance. I have not got to see them much this summer, but just based on what I know and what I have heard through the strength coaches, he could have a chance.”
Question: What did you like about Henderson when he was being recruited?
Smith: “Just his explosiveness more than anything. His desire, his effort to play hard. Besides the fact that he has skills. He can run, he can strike. He has got great instincts. He has a chance to be a really good player.”
Question: How good offensively is Louisville going to be?
Smith: “They are a good football team, a very nice team. They have a lot of players back from last year. The quarterback is going to be even more experienced and he was pretty good last year. They are going to be a tough opening game for us.”
Question: Do you like opening with Louisville or do you prefer the years when it is the third game of the season?
Smith: “Honestly I don’t really care that much whether it is the first game or not. There will be a lot of hype around it being the first game, but both teams plenty of time to prepare. We will just have to wait and see.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky linebacker coach/recruiting coordinator Chuck Smith offers insights into UK’s recruiting so far for 2013.
Question: Why have verbal commitments picked up so much in recent weeks to the point UK now has 10 players who say they will sign scholarships in February?
Smith: “It goes in seasons. First you have guys who will commit early. Then you have guys who will commit after the junior days. Then it usually shuts down for spring ball and then it picks back up in the summer because guys are visiting schools and going to camps. There will be another wave of commits. Now watch and see, it will shut down again pretty soon and then it will start back and you will get a couple more during the first couple weeks of the season and after that it will pretty much shut down until December. It is always that kind of trend.
“It is based on the opportunities for kids to come see the schools. During junior days they are visiting different schools and see what they need to see to make a decision. They are doing the same thing in the summer if they have not committed by then. Some will wait for first couple of weeks of season to make sure they are making the right decision and maybe even come to a game or two before they make the commit.”
Question: Has the emphasis on recruiting in Florida changed since five of the 10 commits are from Florida?
Smith: “It’s just one of those years. We have hit Florida pretty hard, but we have before too. It kind of goes in cycles.”
Question: Is that true for Kentucky as well since UK has just one verbal commitment from an in-state player?
Smith: “Yeah, that just happens even in the state. Some years there are not as many players in Kentucky, but we always hit Kentucky kids first. That is our priority. If they can play for us and help us win, we want them. That is who we want no matter if bunch or small amount. But we still hit the same areas outside Kentucky. In the state of Kentucky there is not enough every year to build your program around. You are going to have to have players from Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Ohio, Indiana. Those states have to provide a lot of players, to. You never slack them when it is a big year or a down year in Kentucky. It just is all part of the process, but Kentucky kids are always a priority for us.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
FRANKLIN, Ohio —Kentucky linebacker coach Chuck Smith was a guest speaker at the annual Ohio UK Convention Saturday in what has become an almost annual appearance for him with the Big Blue fans here.
He shared several things with the fans:
Question: As a coach, how do you approach a season when analysts and even some fans are predicting a losing season for your team? Do you enjoy that role?
Smith: “Kind of enjoy it, but I never let those kind of things bother me when I was a coach at Boyle County or even at Kentucky. As a coach I know what we have to do and know what we can do. That’s really all that matters and all I focus on. I don’t focus on what everybody says you can’t do or you are supposed to do. I don’t really worry too much about those things because once you start (the season), you are 24/7 and don’t have time to worry about all that other stuff.”
Question: Is that true for players or do they maybe pay more attention to what is being projected for the team?
Smith: “I don’t know. They might pay more attention to it. I think if everybody stays focused on the task at hand, then I don’t how they can be worried about everything on the outside.”
Question: Since you use the Kentucky fan support as a plus in recruiting, is this a season that the team could use even more fan support to help on the field as well as in recruiting?
Smith: “They need to keep supporting. That makes a big difference when those players come into that stadium and that fan base is up cheering. It gives them that extra motivation. Of course when it is not, it is a downer for them. I think that is way the fan base can participate and use what they can control to help us get over that hump and to the next level.
“Our history has been strong. Our fans love Kentucky basketball. They love Kentucky football. I just think that they get frustrated sometimes, but they don’t get any more frustrated than we do as a coaching staff. We just need to pull together and get this thing turned around.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
One of my favorite summer events — the Ohio UK Convention — is coming up again July 21 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Eastview Baptist Church located at 4289 W St Rt 122, Franklin, Ohio 45005 (take exit 32 off I-75 and turn east on St Rt 122 for about 2 miles).
Registration cost at the door is $25 or use the contact form at www.ukconvention.com to get information about pre-registering. For more personalized registration, call convention director Jim Porter at 937-746-8758.
The UK Convention is an annual get-together of UK fans to celebrate the University of Kentucky basketball and other UK teams. It is held annually on the third Saturday in July. Various guest speakers are featured who provide current information and/or historical perspectives of UK athletics.
Porter has big expectations for a capacity crowd this year, one reason to advance register to save your spot.
Those attending will be able to have a picture taken with the 2012 NCAA championship trophy because one of the guest speakers will be Chris Woolard, UK associate athletics director who works directly with UK coach John Calipari.
Kentucky assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator Chuck Smith will again be back in Franklin to discuss the upcoming football season. He’s become a fan favorite.
An intriguing guest will be Tom Clark, a retired NCAA basketball referee who worked the epic Kentucky-Duke NCAA Tournament game in 1992. I’ll be looking forward to hearing his take on the game, including Christian Laettner stepping on UK’s Aminu Timberlake and not being ejected. It should be a rare perspective on that game most UK fans will never forget.
Finally, Porter has persuaded WDKY-TV anchor Jennifer Palumbo to be part of the program this year. She covered the SEC and NCAA tournaments for WDKY and WKYT. She’s also friends with Calipari and his wife and recently attended Dick Vitale’s gala to raise money for the V Foundation. If that’s not enough, she’s an avid UK football fan as well. Palumbo will have stories to share that the UK fans will love.
If you live in the area and have never attended this convention, do so. You won’t be disappointed. I’ll be back again — and have copies of our book, Elite Eighth, on UK’s championship season — and can’t wait to interact with Palumbo, Smith, Woolard, Clark and the die-hard UK fans who come to this special day.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Sophomore Alvin â€œBudâ€ Dupree is not overwhelmed with the idea of trying to offset the loss of sixth-roundâ€ˆNFL draft picks Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy, the top two tacklers in the Southeastern Conference last season.
â€œI set lofty goals for myself. One of my goals is to led the SEC in sacks and lead the NCAA. Not trying to compete with my teammates, but just to push them. I try to tell them little things Iâ€ˆam going to do so they can go hard too and aim for the same point,â€ said Dupree, who had 21 tackles in 12 games as a true freshman last season after being moved from tight end just before the season started.
He was an honor roll student in high school in Georgia and a member of the Future Business Leaders of America. But on the field, he admits he can be a bit onery.
â€œOn the field, Iâ€ˆlove to talk a little trash and make people get a little fear in their heart. In football, my whole mindset changes on the field. You may see me as nice off the field, but between the lines Iâ€ˆchange a lot. I have always been outspoken. When Iâ€ˆplayed basketball, I was the same way. I am a person that likes to talk and make plays,â€ Dupree said.
He was good enough at Wilkinson County High School to help his team win the Class A state title. Thatâ€™s one reason he enjoyed watching coach John Calipariâ€™s play during their national championship season. But he also had one other interesting perspective on the team.
â€œI could have played with them if he (Calipari) had put me on the team,â€ Dupree said. â€œWhen we won the state championship, Iâ€ˆhad 10 (points) and 21 (rebounds). I could have played with them. I could have been a wing out there on the court in Rupp Arena.â€
However, both â€ˆUKâ€ˆcoach â€ˆJoker Phillips and defensive coordinator Rick Minter are glad they have Dupree on their team.
â€œI think Bud had a good, solid spring. He is a little bit beyond his years. He is not a typical freshman. He is mature. Physically he is pretty gifted and he is confident and an intelligent kid,â€ Minter said. â€œHe is a little further along than some of the guys at the same exact stage being here less than one year and the door being wide open for him to take over that rush backer spot. We have not been disappointed in him.â€
â€œDefensively, you keep hearing the buzz about Bud Dupree and you saw it. The guy is so fast off the edge. Heâ€™s what we have to block week in and week out. Heâ€™s a real guy. Heâ€™s an SEC outside linebacker/rush backer who makes plays,â€â€ˆPhillips said.
That should continue to get easier because Dupree says by the time spring practice ended, he had â€œlearned the playbook betterâ€ and was far more familiar with the plays after coming to UKâ€ˆexpecting to be a big-play tight end who could stretch the field in the passing game.
â€œIt has been interesting. I thought Iâ€ˆwould play offense, but Iâ€ˆhad to switch over and help my team. I wanted to play offense and came in with an offensive mind, but knew Iâ€ˆcould do this on defense,â€ Dupree said. â€œI could have done the same thing either way. I just wanted to play. I was fine with the move.
â€œI like the system that (linebacker) coach (Chuck) smith and coach Minter teach and the way they get me to the quarterback and get me out in pass coverage. Coach Minterâ€™s system is very good. It throws a lot of schemes at people as well as different types of blitz zones, pass coverages and things you think you can expect which turns into something else.â€
Dupree doesnâ€™t see his coachesâ€™ praise as pressure even though UKâ€ˆis coming off a disappointing 5-7 season.
â€œI like it. I like the publicity and exposure. I just have to show everybody what I can do and have people countÂ on me,â€ Dupree said. â€œI like that people are not expecting much out of us so we can show them we are better. I think we are going be a whole lot better than people think. We are not going to be a scrub team. I am pretty sure we are going to be a good team.â€
Heâ€™s not worried about UKâ€ˆhaving four new starting linebackers, either.
â€œWe play together well. We play as a whole crew together. If one person messes up, Avery (Williamson) will tell us about our plays. If somebodyÂ makes a mistake, somebody will cover up for him,â€ Dupree said. â€œI always try to play full speed. If I do make a mistake, Iâ€ˆcan always keep running and go make the tackle. It might not look like a mistake, but if I look at tape it will be one.
â€œMy coverage has got better and my run stopping has got better. I am a good run stopper now, but also a good pass rusher. Everything is coming together.â€
He says one reason is because he spent more time studying film this spring.
â€œI have to learn how Kentucky football works and how coach Minterâ€™s system works. The things Iâ€ˆdidnâ€™t know out of high school, Iâ€ˆhave learned and I am more familiar with the defense than I was. Things are coming into place,â€ Dupree said. â€œI like studying film. I like watching my mistakes because Iâ€ˆhate messing up. I donâ€™t mess up that much, but if I do I want to know how to correct it and make sure I donâ€™t do it again.â€ˆIf I mess up one thing, I am not going to do it again. Iâ€ˆtry to get it to where Iâ€ˆnever make the same mistake twice.â€
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky lost its leading two tacklers â€” linebackers Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy â€” off last yearâ€™s 6-7 team. The Cats also graduated inside linebacker Ronnie Sneed, one of the teamâ€™s most improved players last season.
The Wildcats were counting on senior Ridge Wilson, a returning starter, to anchor the linebackers, but he was dismissed from the team in the offseason after a drug arrest during the offseason.
That leaves linebacker coach Chuck Smith and defensive coordinator Rick Minter a major rebuilding job that they have started during spring practice. Smith shared these thoughs on the linebackersâ€™ progress midway of spring practice.
Question: How have the linebackers been doing this spring?
Smith: â€œThey are coming along. If you look at the roster, they are all freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Avery Williamson is the oldest, and heâ€™s a sophomore. We are really young and have to be real patient. But Iâ€ˆdo think they are coming along. Itâ€™s the second year into coach (Rick) Minterâ€™s system. They are starting to learn the terminology better. They have heard it before. They are understanding the package a little bit better, but we still have a long ways to go. No question about that.â€
Question: How valuable is the playing experience that Williamson and Alvin Dupree got at the end of last season?
Smith: â€œIt was very valuable. They are ones who have been in the game. They are the ones who have that game experience and it goes a long ways. The other guys kind of look to them even though they areÂ young in age to be leaders in that group. I think Avery has done a great job of being a leader. He has kind of taken over the leadership of the whole linebacking corp and Alvin is way ahead of anybody else his age and has done a nice job. You have to remember that Alvin is still a freshman and didnâ€™t even start out at linebacker when he got here. He was a tight end. He has picked it up real fast. He is a real sharp kid. He has great potential and has a chance to be a really, really good football player. We expect a lot out of him. What is good is that he expects a lot out of himself.â€
Question: What about the other players?
Smith: â€œMalcom McDuffen is way ahead of himself from last year. He is really picking it up and starting to gain confidence. Tyler Brause was moved to the inside position and he has taken off with it. Kind of position suited for him because he is a real sharp and intelligent kid. That position has to be sharp and intelligent and he has been a real pleasant surprise in there. Demarius Rancifer, another inside linebacker, is coming along. He is starting to get bogged down right now with a lot of information like most freshmen do, but I have been pleased with his play. When he knows what to do, he does a pretty decent job.
â€œOutside Miles Simpson is coming along pretty solid. He is ahead of where he was last year, which you expect him to be. We have a couple of guys backing him up that are showing a lot of promise in Josh Forrest, who is real long and runs really good and has a chance to be a really nice player. Along with (junior college transfer) Kory Brown who came in. Backing up Alvin is a guy we just moved to that position, TraVaughn Paschal. He is really struggling understanding what to do, but he has a lot of talent and potential.â€
Question: Does it change what you do as a coach when you lose all four starting linebackers?
Smith: â€œYou have to spend more time on fundamentals and techniques because they are all young. They have not had enough of it. You have to really pick your game up as a coach when you have a bunch of young guys. That is what weâ€™ve got and we are really staying after them, trying to get them to understand what to do but also teach them technique and fundamentals. Then you have to decide at some point what has to come first â€” the assignments or the technique. So you have to juggle that around.â€
Question: Is Williamson comfortable enough in his role that he can help younger players with their assignments?
Smith: â€œNot quite there yet. I think he will be at some point, but not quite yet. Really he is kind of young. He was just a part-time starter last year, so he is young, too. Hopefully by fall he will be able to help with some of that stuff.â€
Question: Not only is this your youngest unit at Kentucky, but isnâ€™t this the most guys you have had that have started at other spots and moved to linebacker?
Smith: â€œThis is a challenge, a big challenge. The linebackers are taking on that, as well as Iâ€ˆhave. We just have to keep plugging awayÂ and every day make a little bit more progress.â€
Question: Does Brownâ€™s personality make him fun to coach?
Smith: â€œHe wants to play. He is real eager to learn. He is conscientious about what is being said and how he responds to it. I like him a lot. He has a lot of potential and we have high hopes for him. He is one of the guys who comes in and asks for one-on-one attention, and thatâ€™s always good stuff. They have to get it down.â€
Question: What do your guys have to do this summer to make sure they are ready for preseason camp?
Smith: â€œThey are being taught the scheme now, so they will do a lot of seven-on-seven with the offense during the summer. They will run through some of these blitzes and mostly run through the coverages. They are still learning. They will be in the weight room. It never stops. They will be in the film room watching film. Coach Minter has done some voice-overs that they will hear. Itâ€™s just a continuing learning experience.â€
Question: Is that time where a player like Williamson can be even more valuable as a leader?
Smith: â€œExactly. Coaches canâ€™t be with them, so the older, experienced guys will watch film with the younger guys and help them along.â€