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By LARRY VAUGHT
The more scholarship offers he receives, the more surprised South Warren defensive tackle Adrian Middleton.
“It has all really surprised me. I was not really expecting any of this,” said the 6-4, 275-pound Middleton.
He now has offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee, Missouri, Austin Peay and Indiana State. Even Florida has visited the Bowling Green school and shown interest in Middleton.
“The coaches seem to like that I am good using my hands and stuff like that,” Middleton said. “I grew up playing football. South Warren is a relatively new school, but I have played here since my freshman year and I’ve always loved football.
“All the attention and offers have been flattering, but I try not to pay too much attention because I want to focus on my senior year and be ready for it.”
Middleton, who plans to attend camp at UK next week, has not finalized his summer plans and really is not sure when he might make a college choice.
“I may commit before our season starts or I may just wait until after the season. I just don’t know yet,” he said. “I keep up with other recruits and where they are committing on Twitter. I have a lot of newspaper and media people that follow me on Twitter to keep up with me. But I kind of enjoy seeing where other people are going.”
Kentucky assistant coaches Neal Brown, Jimmy Brumbaugh and D.J. Eliot all came to Bowling Green to watch him at spring practice.
“That kind of surprised me when they all came,” Middleton said. “They told me how I can help UK and how coach (Mark) Stoops had coached first-round draft picks in this year’s draft. That was definitely appealing to me.”
What about Louisville’s sales pitch?
“All the schools tell you good stuff like that and about first-round draft picks and things,” Middleton, who said he did not grow up a fan of any specific team, said.
South Warren defensive coordinator Brandon Smith is the son of former Boyle County coach and UK assistant Chuck Smith, who coached Brown at Boyle County.
“Coach Brown did tell me he knew coach Smith’s dad and I knew they were from the same high school,” Middleton said. “I talk to coach Brown. He’s my main recruiter. I can always call and talk to him.”
He says Brandon Smith is “pretty cool and makes me laugh” on and off the field.
“I know that he won state championships in high school, but he never talks about his career a lot,” Middleton said. “He never mentions his numbers, but I know he was a good quarterback. When we do 7-on-7 stuff, he can still throw the ball around pretty good. He’s still got it.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
This is part of a series with Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops based on a recent interview with him that I hope will offer insights into his personality and philosophies that you have not read about before.
Question: What makes you and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot such a good combo?
Stoops: “For our system to be successful — as successful as we were at Florida State — we had to be great up front. D.J. has a background. He’s been with me at several different stops, so his roots of what his core of defensive thought process and defensive system goes all the way back with me all the way to Wyoming. He’s been with me at Wyoming, Houston, Miami, and then we reconnected at Florida State. He had several jobs in between and I also, where I was – I guess I was just at Arizona during that time. So he understands me very well. He understands the core of our system and then he’s very bright so he can bring in new ideas. We always constantly are trying to grow, so D.J. was a great fit for here, especially with his knowledge of the front and my knowledge of the back end.
Question: Are you and D.J. good friends off the field?
Stoops: “We are. We are good friends off the field. Our families are friends. Spending all that time together.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Junior safety Ashley Lowery was fifth on the team in tackles (43) last year despite missing four games due to injury and believes he can have a much better season for Kentucky next season under new defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot. He has 59 tackles in 20 career games and feels he had a “great” spring practice to get him ready for UK’s first season under coach Mark Stoops.
Question: How do you like D.J. Eliot’s defense?
Lowery: “It is kind of different from the past defense, but it is a lot more simple so you can play a lot faster and not think as much. You just go, know your assignment and trust the other 10 people on the field.”
Question: What do you spend your summer months working on?
Lowery: “You just continue battling, working in the weight room and coming out every day trying to get faster. Work on footwork, loosening your hips. Being a DB (defensive back), flip your hips more to run with the receivers because the speed in the SEC is different and you really have to be out there and be ready. Then be in good shape because you have to be able to run all day being a DB. Just be prepared for anything really.”
Question: Do you feel better about this new staff now that you have been through spring practice?
Lowery: “I feel really good. The coaches push you every day and demand enthusiasm and being tough and physical. That’s what we need to be as a team to compete in the SEC, so we have to keep working on that hard as a unit to come together.”
Question: What did you do to catch the coaches’ eyes that have them so high on you?
Lowery: “I just come out and work hard every day and try to have a smile on my face and show body language that is good. I tried to step in and help lead because I am coming into my junior year. I am trying to step up and be a leader on the team. Not only sit back and do my role, but bring along the young kids.”
Question: After two years with no bowls and last year’s 2-10 finish, do you see things getting better team-wise?
Lowery: “We have a lot of time for improvement. We have three or four months before first game. We have to work hard in the summer and then going into fall ball we have to continue to work hard and battle and see what happens the first game.”
Question: How much better could the UK offense be next season based on what you saw in the spring?
Lowery: “A lot more better. Receivers are more confident in themselves running in and out of routes. The quarterbacks are seeing everything a lot better and making the good throw and smart passes. The offensive line has worked on footwork a lot and gotten that down. I feel like we will be pretty good. The running backs are good. With Raymond Sanders, JonJon George and Josh Clemons coming back, we will good in the backfield because all three of them have played before and know what it is like to keep coming out and fighting.”
Question: How different is the tempo of the offense this year compared to last year?
Lowery: “It is real different. Like last year I felt like they wanted to do a fast tempo but they didn’t … when they did, they could move the ball. But they didn’t do it much. This year they are doing it every time so they can move the ball pretty much at will. But you have to be willing to sacrifice your body to step in and make the catch across the middle and what not to make a play for the team and offense.”
Question: Did practicing against that fast tempo help the defense?
Lowery: “It helps a lot. We have to be able to get the call, turn back and read the offense to see what they are in and make our checks. It helps so that when you come up against a slower paced offense, we are a fast paced defense based on what our offense does and that helps us so we are moving fast and they will have to play to our tempo.”
Question: Will that eliminate a lot of the on-field communication problems from last year that often led to the defense not getting lined up right?
Lowery: “We just had a lot of different settings and defenses last year. By the time everybody would realize the formation and make a check because we had like three or four different calls going into one thing, it was confusing.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Bradley Dale Peveto hopes he can help revive the UK football program. He’s the safeties coach and special teams coordinator and likes what he has seen at Kentucky.
“I really believe we can get this going,” said Peveto after one of UK’s spring practice sessions. “We have good kids, good facilities. We just have to get more recruits and teach the guys we have how to work and get better.”
Peveto was head coach at Northwestern State in Louisiana, where he guided the team to consecutive seasons with five or more wins for the first time since 2004-05, for four years before joining Stoops. He spent 22 years as an assistant coach, including 2005-08 at LSU where he spent three years as the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach before being promoted in 2008 to co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
Peveto talked about UK’s secondary play as well as coaching chemistry during a recent interview.
Question: How are the safeties doing, especially since you have such a big group of players on the depth chart?
Peveto: “It is going well. The attitude and work ethic have been great. I like their attention to detail. We still have a lot of room for improvement. I think we have some competition going with guys working to get spots. I like our effort. They have done a great job of learning the system.”
Question: Can you tell twins Zack and Daron Blaylock apart?
Peveto: “Yes because Daron is bigger than Zack. It took me a while, though. They are doing good. They are working hard. I like their effort and I like what I am seeing out of the Blaylocks. They are both players.”
Question: What about Ashley Lowery?
Peveto: “Ashley has done a good job, too. He has adjusted. We have thrown a lot at him and all the guys. We have taught this defense and he has picked it up extremely well. I am very happy with him.”
Question: Is Glenn Faulkner healthy finally and how has he looked?
Peveto: “He does look fine. He moves around good and I like his twists and like his speed. He has to continue to learn the defense better, but I like what I have seen. He has the ability to play and Glenn has a good attitude and has had great effort. He just needs to stay healthy.”
Question: When do you really get a feel for who can play?
Peveto: “I don’t think you ever really know that until you scrimmage and then the bullets fly. That is when it becomes a contact sport. That will separate the men from the boys in a hurry. I don’t doubt at all that we will be a very physical defense, but until you scrimmage you don’t know who will hit you, who will tackle, who knows the right angles and who understands leverage. That all comes out when you scrimmage.”
Question: Do you value technique or hitting/tackling more?
Peveto: “The first thing you have to do is execute. That is the number one thing in defense. I don’t care how hard you hit, if you are not on the right man, in the right gap or your eyes are not right and you are not executing your technique, they are going to make yards. Then the next thing is you have to be able to tackle. Not everybody has to be a trained killer. Know what I am saying? But you have to be able to get them on the ground and know leverage, angles and when to tackle high or low. Those are things that are very important to tackling. Not everybody is going to be a fearless hitter, but the thing you have to do is understand leverage, understand where the sideline is, understand where your help is. Those are all the things that come in to be a good technician and good tackler.
“The key to a good defense is not to give up big plays. And if you don’t tackle, you are going to give up big plays. One big thing we look at is yardage after a missed tackle. It is amazing sometimes. The first guy there, they have to get him down. That is critical to playing good defense. You look at defenses across the country that are considered great defenses and they don’t miss tackles. That is what we will find out in scrimmage. At safety, there is nobody left to tackle usually if you miss.”
Question: So do you emphasize tackling daily?
Peveto: “Yes. We work it every day. We work a lot of different types of tackles during a circuit we do. But there are several different tackle techniques we have to do like angle tackling, head up tackle, cutback tackle, sideline tackle, flare tackle. There are a lot of different type tackles you have to do to make sure you put the defense in the best position possible.”
Question: But you are not opposed to a big hitter who can tackle, right?
Peveto: “Oh no. You want everybody to be that way. But I have had several good players who were not fearless hitters but they were good tacklers. You know what I am saying. They understood the game, they understood leverage, they knew when to tackle high or low and they were tough enough. Not everybody is going to be a fearless, take you head off type of guy. But if they understand how to tackle and angles and specifics of being a good tackler, then that works, too.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
All spring Kentucky’s defensive players have talked about how much simpler the scheme is this year, but defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot says it is not that simple.
So who is right? Today I asked coach Mark Stoops, a former defensive coordinator. Enjoy his answer:
“It’s just a mindset. Believe me, we could be as complex as we want to be. It’s getting your players…it’s not what we know. We could sit in there on the board and come up with a lot of good defenses. There are a lot of good ways to do things but it’s up to you to get your team to understand it and teach it and get them to execute it, that’s the bottom line.
“Nobody really cares how much I know or we know on Saturdays, it’s a matter of what the players know and execute and play. I think that’s a big part of our philosophy defensively, to make it simple, make them understand it, know who they are and have tweaks and a lot of changes off of it. We’ll never stop defensively, we’ll always continue to install but that takes time.”
Doubting Rick Minter would have answered the same way last year because he loved complex and confusing.
By ASHLEY SCOBY
Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said UK had a “vision to sell, and we went out there and sold it” to recruits in a short amount of time. New coach Mark Stoops and his staff signed UK’s highest rated recruiting class that included eight players with a four-star rating from at least one recruiting service. Eliot, who worked under Stoops at Florida State, made his first two recruiting visits to Franklin County receiver Ryan Timmons and Trinity defensive end Jason Hatcher — and both signed with UK.
“For us to be successful, we’ve got to make sure that those great players within the state stay in the state. I’m coming from Florida State and a big part of our program is built on Florida kids. Even though there may be more of them, it was still the core of our team. If we could do that here at Kentucky, we’ll be successful,” Eliot said.
Here’s more of what the first-time defensive coordinator had to say about recruiting and the program.
On target areas for the program…
Eliot: “The first thing that I did before I started the evaluation process of our recruits was I watched video of every single player on the team. I had the graduate assistants make a cut-up, whether it was just from practice from the guys that didn’t play in any games, or if it was just a small amount of action the players got in games. I watched every single defensive player on our team, and then developed what our needs were to fit our scheme for our defense.”
On what he saw in those tapes…
Eliot: “Like coach Stoops touched on, our philosophy is that we want to be big up front and be extremely athletic. So we had an emphasis on recruiting defensive linemen and fast skill players. That was our emphasis.”
On transitioning from being a position coach to defensive coordinator…
Eliot: “Fortunately I kind of got my training wheels the last two games at Florida State because I was the defensive coordinator there for the last two games. I’m excited about it.”
On competing for in-state recruits with schools like Ohio State, USC and Florida…
Eliot: “I think that it shows that they see the potential within their own state. What I’ve found with recruiting Jason Hatcher was that he wanted to go to Kentucky. He wanted to believe in the program. When we were available to convince him of what we’re going to do, then that helped him jump on board with us. I think with the future players within our state, they’ll feel the same way.”
On ease of converting a program from 3-4 to 4-3 defense…
Eliot: “We’ll need some time to develop some of the techniques up front for that transformation but it shouldn’t take long. And we’re going to be more multiple than you may realize as well. At Florida State, you could tell we had some injuries. We were running 3-4 schemes quite often.”
On excitement of actually getting on the field after the recruiting process…
Eliot: “I’m very excited for that process. It’s an opportunity and a part of my coaching career that I’m really looking forward to.”
On importance of bringing in junior-college recruits to increase the “maturity” of the team…
Eliot: “At certain positions, we felt like we needed some veteran players and that’s why we recruited junior-college players at those positions.”
On if this class will send a message to future recruits…
Eliot: “It says a lot. Ryan and Jason — they both are Kentucky proud. I think that when we were able to show them our plan to be successful, they felt good about staying and going to Kentucky.”
On what the last couple of months have been like…
Eliot: “It has been very interesting because I was the defensive coordinator at the Orange Bowl. I took the job, came here and recruited for two weeks, then went back and coached for Florida State for two weeks. I prepared the game plan and practices and then called the game in the Orange Bowl and then came right back here and started recruiting again. It has been interesting to say the least but it’s been exciting and I’m looking forward to the future.”
On the current UK players he’s excited to work with…
Eliot: “Alvin Dupree is a very good player. I recruited him at Florida State, so I’ve known about him for quite a while. There’s a handful of guys I’ve been really impressed with and the rest of them have a clean slate with me. They have an opportunity to prove to me what they can do.”
On how his recruiting style connects so well with players…
Eliot: “I think that a lot of these players these days want to play for somebody that has a passion for what they’re doing and somebody that can motivate them day in and day out and is enthusiastic and energetic.”
On the deciding factor to jump from Florida State to Kentucky…
Eliot: “Well I believe in coach Stoops and I believe in what he’s doing. I see the potential that the University of Kentucky has, being in the best conference in college football. Also the commitment that the university’s making towards facilities and other avenues.
On how much he used the prospect of playing in the SEC on the recruiting trail…
Eliot: “Tremendous amount. I think all SEC schools sell their conference as much as they can. When I was at Florida State, that was something I was always battling – defending the ACC and battling the SEC.
On recruiting guys to UK that he had previously recruited to Florida State…
Eliot: “Alvonte Bell we were recruiting at Florida State, and he stayed with his commitment to us. There were some other players that we visited with as well. For the most part, we wanted to start fresh when we got here. We wanted to bring in some of the guys that we thought would fit our system offensively and defensively. Those are most of the guys we signed.
“One of the biggest things in recruiting is relationship-building. If I had a good relationship with them, it wasn’t that big of a deal. When I walk into their home, it’s more of a high-five than it was ‘Hey, why do you have a different sales pitch?’
On using the prospect of immediate playing time in recruiting…
Eliot: “We always sell the opportunity that you’ll have to play, but we never guarantee anybody playing time. That wouldn’t be fair to the players that are on our team. But we definitely sold that opportunity. Like coach Stoops touched on, you’ll only be 15 practices behind the rest of the team, as oppose to going somewhere else where they’ve been implementing a game plan and a scheme for four or five years.”
On if the staff will have to use the upcoming season’s results to recruit in the future…
Eliot: “I think we’ll recruit on what we do next year but we’ll still be able to draw on our track record and what we’ve done in the past.”
Eliot: “I love it. It’s a wonderful town. My wife and kids are moving here on Friday and we’re looking forward to it. It’s a great community and we’re very excited.
On his style of defense and its ability to work in the SEC…
Eliot: “Fortunately at Florida State, we were very good at stopping the run and I know for the most part, this is a run-oriented conference. I think when we apply those principles, we’ll be successful.”
On making the state of Florida a priority in recruiting…
Eliot: “It’s a very talented area. One thing some people may not realize too is it’s a very highly-populated area. That’s a big reason why there are so many prospects that come out of there. Seventeen to 20 million people live in that state. It was a place that we knew that we could recruit because of our relationships, but it was a place that we also knew had a lot of good players there.
On importance of Florida ties…
Eliot: “Initially the ties were very important because when we gathered and started evaluating players, I called five or six people I knew in the state of Florida and said, ‘Hey, tell me who some good players are’ that maybe I didn’t know about at Florida State. We were able to gather a list pretty quickly of great players we could get on that we knew could fit our needs and start recruiting them right away. But it’s because of those relationships that we had that we could get that information.”
On how many of the signees came from Elliott finding out about them from his connections in Florida…
Eliot: “Quite a bit of them. The entire coaching staff was able to talk to the people that they had relationships with and quite a bit of our signing class came from those initial conversations.”
On 50 percent of the signing class coming from the state of Florida…
Eliot: “I think that players in the state of Florida really do appreciate the SEC and when they have an opportunity to come play in it, they’re going to jump on it.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Just as Mark Stoops got ready to start his first signing day press conference as coach at Kentucky, he stood up and walked away from the podium. He got a banner of Louisville Trinity defensive end Jason Hatcher, who had signed with UK minutes before, and put in on the wall with banners of 21 other UK signees as a horde of media members watched.
Accidental? No way.
Stoops knew landing the 6-3, 250-pound Hatcher, a four-star recruit, was a special way to end signing day and sent a strong message about what he had done in just over two months. Remember Hatcher was originally committed to Southern Cal and even when he de-committed, many thought it would be to stay home and play for Louisville.
Instead, Stoops and UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot never backed off and they pulled off a recruiting gem by landing him just one day after four-star Franklin County receiver Ryan Timmons turned down Florida, Illinois and Ohio State to join the UK class.
“With the addition of Jason we signed three players (Clay County defensive tackle Jacob Hyde was the third) from Kentucky and Jason was important in a lot of ways. Important person, great family. Mama was Louisville. That was hard to get around for a while but a great person. Gives us great credibility in moving forward,” said Stoops.
That’s because Hatcher was rated No. 8 in the country by Rivals.com, No. 10 by Scout.com, No. 14 by ESPN.com and No. 16 by 247Sports.com at his position. He made 37 tackles as a senior, including 13.5 quarterback sacks and four additional tackles for loss, during Trinity’s state championship season in 2012 and 40 tackles and 12 sacks his junior season.. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio this year.
“What makes him so dynamic is how explosive he is. He’s very good on his feet. He’s very good off the edge. He can do a lot of things but it’s his first step. He’s dynamic with his quickness and speed and athletic ability. We’re excited about that,” Stoops said.
Eliot went all-in with Hatcher as soon as he left Florida State — where he worked on Stoops’ defensive staff — and got to Kentucky.
“When I got hired as the first assistant, my first two stops were Ryan Timmons and then Jason Hatcher. We started building that relationship with Jason from day one and within this month’s span, we were able to get him to flip from USC and sign with us,” Eliot said. “He’s extremely motivated to be a great player. He has the skills to be fantastic but it’s kind of what he has that I think is going to make him special. I’m really looking forward to coaching him.”
He’s not the only gem in the class. Kentucky went into Ohio and got three solid players led by safety Marcus McWilson. Half of UK’s signees — 11 — are from the state of Florida, including highly-touted four-star running back JoJo Kemp. Kentucky got Javess Blue, perhaps the nation’s best junior college receiver, and Za’Darius Smith, one of the best junior college defensive ends.
But convincing Hatcher to play at UK was a perception bonanza for Kentucky and only adds to the excitement Stoops has built since taking over a team that went 2-10 last year under Joker Phillips.
How did he convince Hatcher to stay and become the first Trinity player to sign with UK in years?
“It’s about relationships, it’s about presenting a plan, how we — we’re going to use him. Things we have done in the past, the way our defense works, how he’s going to fit into it and, again, we had to make up a lot of time in relationships and we spent a lot of time with Jason and his family, his mother, Donna. We spent a lot of time and effort into that,” Stoops said.
On the last home visit, Stoops took three assistants with him. On a visit to Trinity, he took four coaches with him.
“They were gracious enough to spend a bunch of time with us, and they got a chance to see us and see what we’re all about,” Stoops said.
Eliot knew it would be a “challenge” to get Hatcher.
“But I felt like that we had something to offer him that he was going to be interested in, so I kept going after him,” the UK defensive coordinator said.
That never-give-up attitude has been a change in UK recruiting. This staff signed eight four-star players in this class. Eight. That’s never been done before at UK.
“One thing we sold them on is that everything coach Stoops has been responsible for his entire career, he’s been successful.
Whether he’s been an assistant coach at Miami, whether he was the defensive coordinator at Miami, whether he was the defensive coordinator at Arizona State or whether he was the defensive coordinator at Florida State,” Eliot said. “He took a program or a position and he made it better, and most of those exponentially better. We sold them (recruits) that he’s got a plan for being a head coach and he’s got a track record of being successful and he’s going to do the same thing here.”
The recruits obviously listened, and believed.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Three in-state players that were not on Kentucky’s radar before Mark Stoops was hired as new coach became immediate recruiting targets for the Wildcats.
One, Mr. Football James Quick of Trinity, gave his verbal commitment to Louisville earlier this month and basically admitted that UK just came into the recruiting picture too late for him.
Another player, Franklin County standout Ryan Timmons, seems intrigued by Neal Brown’s offense — he played in basically the same offense in high school — and could be favoring UK now over Florida and Ohio State.
The third player, Trinity four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher, recently decommitted from USC after making a visit to USC. He has visited UK and could visit both Florida and Louisville before signing day Feb. 6. Like Timmons, Hatcher’s interest in UK now is because he likes the defense that Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot use.
Hatcher had 27 tackles last season and is ranked among the nation’s top defensive ends.
Getting either Hatcher or Timmons would be a huge recruiting bonanza for Stoops. Getting both would be liking finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
So could UK land Hatcher? Absolutely. The guess here is that it will come down to Louisville or UK. He has more ties to Louisville, but I’m hearing more and more that he’s doing nothing to discourage UK.
What do you think? Could Stoops break the Trinity barrier and land this big-time player less than two months after taking the UK job?
By LARRY VAUGHT
Since 2001, coach Bob Beatty has led Trinity to 10 state football championships and he has compiled a 165-21 record in 13 seasons guiding the Shamrocks.
He has been named the head coach of the East squad for the U.S. Army All American Bowl Jan. 5 at the Alamodome in San Antonio where his five-star receiver James Quick is scheduled to make his college choice with Louisville and Ohio State the perceived leaders.
Beatty, an assistant coach for the West in last year’s bowl game, had senior defensive end Jason Hatcher (USC) and senior cornerback Ryan White (Vanderbilt) on this year’s team and has quarterback Travis Wright returning along with standout athlete Reggie Bonnafon.
He shared his thoughts on how new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and his staff have shown interest in recruiting Trinity players already as well as other thoughts recently during a ceremony at the Louisville Quarterback Club when Quick won the Paul Hornung Award as the state’s top player.
Question: What do you think of new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and his staff?
Beatty: “I have only met the coordinators and talked to the head coach on the phone, but the first thing I can tell you is that they were here. They were in our school and they were talking to us and spent a great amount of time with me on two different occasions. The fact that they are here and punching the clock tells me that they are making their faces known and that is the first step.”
Question: Have you sensed a stronger commitment already from this UK staff to recruiting Trinity than past UK staffs?
Beatty: “I think the past Kentucky staffs were in there, but I think at times there was maybe a word spread that the kid wasn’t interested so they would maybe kind of fade away. These guys came in strong and said, ‘Hey, we have a package to sell and come and look at us.’ That is where it has to start and they have been persevering pretty hard and that is what you have to do.”
Question: How did Brown come across on his visit to Trinity?
Beatty: “We immediately went to the board and started talking some X’s and O’s. I am a lot older than he is, so we go way back. A lot of our philosophies meshed and we could kind of along the way have touched different people that have influenced us on the offensive side of football. (Defensive coordinator) D.J. Eliot, I don’t know very well yet and do not know that much about their package yet because we run a little bit different defense than they do. Just getting to know them initially is a good step and I felt like we did that.”
Question: How would junior quarterback Travis Wright (244 of 374 passing for 3,314 yards and 36 touchdowns) fit into Brown’s system at Kentucky?
Beatty: “I think he could pretty much fit into anybody’s offense. We are a very, very multiple offense. He can run it and he can throw it, but more than anything he has a lifetime completion percentage of about 70 percent. That says a lot. We average throwing about 25-26 times a game. The key thing about him is he has three state championship rings and knows how to win. That’s a key. When you play the kind of schedule we have and you still come out on the winning side, then he knows how to handle competition, he has played in front of big crowds and he knows how to win. I think that is one of the big leading factors on why he could play anywhere.”
Question: Is he thinking about college choices yet?
Beatty: “I think so. The question is how many people are going to take a look at him. You hear this a lot, ‘He is a system quarterback.’ My reply is maybe you need to design a system to let him be successful because he’s been pretty successful in our system. It is their job to find the talent and if they don’t, they won’t have jobs. Somebody is going to find him.”
Question: How good is defensive end Jason Hatcher?
Beatty: “As good as he wants to be. His potential has just barely been tapped. He has a got a ways to go maturity wise to make sure he plays every down. But is it there? Yes. Is he hungry? I hope so. When he gets to that level, there is no such thing as plays off because the next three guys behind you are as good or better than what you are. I think he is going to realize that very quickly but I think he is going to be very good at the next level.”
Question: Even though he has verbally committed to USC, is there any truth to rumors he might reconsider that and could be interested in Kentucky?
Beatty: “If he listens to his head coach, he will open all of his doors. This business of early verbal commitments, it holds no stock on their end and really there is no stock on the athlete’s end. My philosophy is to protect my athlete, so open as many doors as you can and then don’t shut it until you have to. If it were up to me to open all those doors and take a look, absolutely because I wouldn’t trust those guys any farther than what I could throw any of them. I have been in those recruiting rooms because I coached five years of college ball and know how they operate. He should keep every door open that he can.”
Question: While it sounds like Mr. Football James Quick has done that, is he set to make his college choice at the U.S. Army Bowl Jan. 5?
Beatty: “I think so. He will know when the time is right. If it is there, it’s there. If it is sooner, it’s sooner. He has my support. He has family support as well. He will know when the time is right.”
Question: How do you feel about players playing multiple sports as Quick did with football, basketball and track?
Beatty: “That is something we relish at Trinity. We want kids to play multiple sports. We have a tremendous amount of football-wrestling. A tremendous amount of football-baseball. James played basketball as well. We don’t have a tremendous amount of guys that do basketball because they are right after each other and they overlap, but James does that. (Former Louisville/NFL quarterback) Brian Brohm did three. It is not unusual for us. We do cherish it, but if you are not out for another sport you are expected in that weight room in the offseason. That has a lot to do with our success at Trinity.”