Most Recent Posts
- Neal Brown on Mobley, Sanders, Miller, Borden, Shields, Kendrick, Timmons and more
- Humphrey “grateful” that Archie Goodwin got to play under John Calipari
- Brown says line, receiver are offensive recruiting needs; OL Kelly commits
- Goodwin getting “postive feedback” from workouts with various NBA teams
- Ohio twins will transfer from Pittsburgh to Kentucky
- Photo Gallery: Alex Poythress at Camp Cal
- Ohio RB Mikel Horton did all he could to help convince Georgia RB Boom Williams to commit to UK
- Boom Willams expects to make impact returning punts, kickoffs
By LARRY VAUGHT
LOUISVILLE — Understanding the mission of Neal Brown’s offense at Kentucky is not complicated.
“Fast, hard, physical. That’s our mission. It’s that simple,” said the UK offensive coordinator during a talk to the Louisville Quarterback Club Tuesday at Wildwood Country Club. “We want to play as fast as anybody in the country. Over the last three years (at Texas Tech), we were No. 1 in plays per game. I am a big believer in the more shots you get to score, the better you will be.
“Second thing, we will be a throw-first team. A lot of people run to set up the pass. We believe in the pass to set up the run. Most of the time we are going to talk about throwing. We want to spread people out and get them playing soft and then run the ball. We will probably throw the ball a lot early and then run.
“Last thing, we want to get the ball to playmakers in space and be creative. There are a lot of skilled guys. The hardest thing to find is offensive linemen and defensive linemen. The biggest mismatch in football is defensive ends, who are small forwards or power forwards in basketball, playing against offensive tackles. We want to neutralize the defensive ends by tiring them out.”
Brown offered analysis on a variety of offensive players during his 35-minute talk.
— Senior running back Raymond Sanders is a “good fit for what we will do” and drew praise for his spring practice. He said Jonathan George is a “lunch pail guy who is under the radar and a big, physical guy” that he likes. However, he said his best praise for sophomore Dyshawn Mobley.
“Mobley has as much potential as anybody on our team. The longer he is in our system, the better he will be. He has a chance to be a big-time player.”
— The UK offensive coordinator says seldom-used tight end Anthony Kendrick “has as much potential in the offense as anybody” from what Brown has seen. “He broke his foot, has been academically ineligible. Now he’s back. I’ve heard he’s doing well this summer,” Brown said.
Junior college transfer Steven Borden, who went through spring practice, is “really athletic and will give us some help immediately” at tight end to go with Tyler Robinson and Jordan Aumiller.
Brown also likes Ronnie Shields’ versatility. “We will use him some as a move-around guy and also as a traditional tight end. He has a lot of potential. He was not real productive last year. He is a guy with talent who has not done it on Saturdays yet that we need,” Brown said.
— He says the offensive line is thin but that guard Darrian Miller “can play in the NFL.” He also says the biggest question mark will be at center where a redshirt freshman (Zach Myers or Jon Toth).
— The UK offensive coordinator says numerous freshman skilled players should play this season, but he was lavish in his praise of former Franklin County standout Ryan Timmons.
“We are very excited to have Ryan, a three-time state champ in track. He was a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver twice,” Brown said. “I feel he can play in our league right away. He is big enough, almost 195 and 5-11. I am expecting a lot from him.”
Brown shied away from any bold predictions about UK’s first season under coach Mark Stoops. However, he did tell club members what they could expect.
“You will see a much improved team that will play hard and play physical,” Brown said. “The kids have been coachable and been with what we call an every day mentality. We would love more wins that losses. The more wins the better. But our focus is coming to work, getting better and the results will build off that.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky had 17 players committed for its 2014 recruiting class when offensive coordinator Neal Brown was speaking to the Louisville Quarterback Club Tuesday, but that includes just one receiver (Thaddeus Snodgrass) and one offensive lineman (Jarrett LaRubbio).
“That is the two main spots we are still in search of on offense,” Brown said. “At receiver, we are being really picky. We feel we develop wideouts and that’s why we are being picky. We are in on some big-time players. Soe are not in as big a hurry (to commit) as we would like. We are playing the waiting game a bit. We are going to sign four or five. For the next couple of years, we will play young guys at that position.
“At offensive line, we have got a really good pool. Lot of Oho kids. We feel really good about the offensive line pool and those are the hardest guys to seek out and find. We have one committed right now. We will probably sign three or four more.”
About six hours later, Kentucky got a commit from Havana (Fla.) offensive lineman Derrick Kelly Jr. Scout.com recruiting analyst Jeff Drummond reported the commitment based on what Kelly’s coach told him.
The 6-5, 280-pound Kelly plays both ways as an offensive tackle and defensive end at East Gadsden.
Kelly also had offers from South Carolina, South Florida, Central Florida, Middle Tennessee and several others. He’s the cousin of former Wildcat Eric Kelly.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Lakota West (Ohio) running back Mikel Horton, one of the early commits in the 2014 recruiting class, did all he could to persuade Georgia all-purpose running back Stanely Williams to commit to UK even though they play the same position.
“It is all about recruiting guys that will make you better and putting guys around you that make the team better,” Williams said. “We will compete and both get better. That’s what Kentucky needs to be successful. He showed me he is willing to compete, and so am I. Really, you don’t get that from a lot of people. He reached out to me and told me to commit and make plays with him. We will be a heck of a combination. Coach Neal (Brown) told me he is already working on ways to put us both in the backfield.
“This is going to be a historic recruiting class with Horton, (Drew) Barker and more. They were telling me to enjoy myself and just make the right decision. But everything they said about Kentucky is true. I love it. Just tell the fans Boom is coming to Kentucky.”
Kentucky coaches have put “Yahtzee” on Twitter when a player commits since they cannot comment directly on recruits. Williams put the same message on his Twitter account when he committed and hopes to do it a lot more.
“It’s a great tradition, and we’re going to get a bunch more Yahtzees. Just wait and see,” Williams said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
In addition to running the ball and catching passes, Georgia all-purpose running back Stanley “Boom” Williams — who still runs the 40 in 4.31 seconds even though he now weighs 190 pounds — expects to be used on special teams based on what UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown has told him.
“I was blown away when I ran a 4.28 as a freshman. But I’ve been that fast ever since. I work hard to maintain my speed with more weight,” Williams said. “Coach Neal Brown has already talked to me about returning kicks. I will be on punt return and kickoff return. It’s just crazy. If I can return a kickoff 50 yards, then the offense only has to go 50 yards (to score a touchdown). Field position plays a big part in the SEC, so I will be working hard to put my offense in the best position to score.”
He’s not worried about UK coming off a 2-10 season, either.
“There’s new things going on at Kentucky. They are going to win more games than last year. They probably won’t win the SEC this year. They will have to grind, but they will,” Williams said. “I think they can win games and shock a lot of people who think they won’t win.
“Then when we’ll roll in as freshmen, we can take off. 2014 is the year we’re probably going to compete for an SEC championship and get to a bowl game. Then in 2015 is going to be the year we’re going to be able to beat everybody and be able to play with anybody, win the SEC championship and possibly bring a national title back to Lexington. I really believe 2015 will be the break out year for Kentucky football. That’s the year we can take over the SEC.”
Williams, who calls the SEC the “minor leagues of the NFL” because of the talent, says being the highest rated recruit to commit to UK since 2006 won’t impact the way he plays.
“I’m going to stay on the grind and play hard my senior season and get ready to go to Kentucky and try to play there and help them win some games immediately,” he said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s really not sure exactly where the nickname “Boom” came from other than one of his high school coaches started calling him that. However, recent Kentucky commit Stanley Williams has embraced the nickname and all it stands for.
“Every time I score, everybody just goes, ‘Boom’ when I score. The whole stadium does it,” said the Georgia standout who is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose running back. “I have fun with it. I love the nickname. Everybody calls me that now and I am fine with Boom or Stanley. I’m looking forward to bringing that name to UK, and when I score touchdowns in the stadium, having the whole stadium going ‘Boom’ when I score.”
He admits it would be “cool” to have his name listed on the roster as Boom.
“I think fans would really like that,” Williams said.
Williams wasn’t expecting to commit to UK when he did last week. However, he said his visit was “so great” he felt there was no need to wait any longer.
“I can’t wait to get back up here. I can’t wait until they have home games this year I can watch,” Williams said. “The whole atmosphere when I came up for my visit was great. Just the love everybody showed me. It was unbelievable. I don’t think I have ever been anywhere where the connection with all the coaches is like that. I just felt like it was a great home for me. Everything was great. Academics, athletics, football. They expect a lot out of players on the field and academically. It’s just a great school where I can get a great education.
“Me and my family felt that would be my home. My mom felt comfortable. My dad did. My sister did. That is was also helped trigger my commitment. We all felt like it was the right place for me.
“The coaches talk about the most loyal fans and the family atmosphere on campus. All those things they said were true. You don’t get many people to talk straight up with you about things, but the Kentucky staff was that way. Me and my mom were both really impressed. She loves Kentucky and can’t wait to get me rolling up there and I can’t wait to make Kentucky a big school in the SEC again.”
Williams, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds as a 175-pound freshman when he verbally committed to Georgia, had not heard from Kentucky before the new staff arrived. He knew about head coach Mark Stoops from his reputation at Florida State and UK running backs coach Chad Scott had recruited him for Texas Tech.
“I hadn’t even received any mail from Kentucky before. Hearing from Kentucky was something totally new to me and my family. Once they started recruiting me, they were really impressed with my film. I was definitely interested in trying to help Kentucky be one of the top schools in the SEC,” Williams said.
“I watched film of the offense and how they use their running backs. They spread guys out over the whole field so that defenses can’t have many guys in the box. That will let me operate in the middle behind my offensive linemen. The offense allows me to get in space and make plays. The coaches are looking for me to make plays and will put the ball in my hands to make plays. I’ll get to make plays one on one against linebackers and hopefully send out a lot of booms in the Kentucky stadium. Just looking at what (offensive coordinator Neal Brown and staff) ran at Texas Tech, they’ll let me set up my blocks and then it will be up to me to do some work and score.
“We will have a lot of mismatches. (Quarterback) Drew Barker will have so many weapons. I’ll do most of my work making plays and catching balls. I started trying to expand my game in spring practice so defenses could not get a feel for me at one position. Expect me to be all over the field making plays at Kentucky.”
He said he “clicked” with UK secondary coach Bradley Dale Peveto, his main recruiter. That was another reason he picked UK over Mississippi State, West Virginia, Arizona and Wisconsin, his other finalists after he de-committed from Georgia.
“I just wanted to be part of something great with coach Stoops,” Williams said. “It’s just an honor to be recruited by Kentucky. This is going to be the best recruiting class Kentucky has ever had. We have got a lot of great people. There are a lot of things going on, and more guys are going to come, too. Kentucky recruiting is just going crazy. To be honest, I’ve never seen a fan base like Kentucky. The fans are incredible and stick with the team. I can’t wait to play in front of those crazy fans.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Since he decided to return to Kentucky to join Mark Stoops’ staff, offensive coordinator Neal Brown has been busy recruiting, teaching his offense to UK’s returning players and assuring fans that he believes Kentucky can win, and win big, in the future.
He’ll be speaking to the Louisville Quarterback Club on Tuesday selling Stoops’ vision for Kentucky and projecting what could happen next season just as he did for a Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame fundraiser last week in Nicholasville.
But if you could ask Brown one question, what would it be? Nothing about a specific incoming recruit because he can’t answer those questions. However, let me know what other question you would like to ask and if get a chance, I’ll try to ask Brown some of the questions that fans like yourself would like to see him answer.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown grew up a Kentucky basketball fan and even went to the Final Four in Houston in 2011 when he was coaching at Texas Tech and UK lost to Connecticut. He says UK coach John Calipari has been a big asset for football.
“Kentucky basketball is cool. It is hip. You have (rapper) Drake as a fan. Cal has made basketball really popular among the young people,” Brown said.
He revealed he’s constantly asked if having a premier basketball program is a plus or minus for football.
“I think it is a huge plus. We scheduled official visits around home basketball games,” Brown said. “Cal has been super supportive. Any time we ask for help, he does. We have the same vision (for football) Cal has for basketball program, and it had lost some of that before he came. That is what we are trying to do on the football side, too.”
He says “passionate” fans are huge help to football as well.
“I talk to recruits a lot about this. There are no professional sports in Kentucky. There are two universities with most of the fan base. But this is a blue state. I don’t think anybody can argue that,” Brown said. “People here (at UK), you are on a big stage. A kid in Atlanta, there is a major pro franchise or two, two major colleges. There are a lot of people stealing the limelight. Here in Kentucky, there’s nothing. Fans show up at events and are loud. There is a lot of presence on Twitter, and that goes back to Cal, too.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Safety Ashely Lowery, who was seriously injured in an automobile accident May 4 in Georgia during a visit home, is back on campus taking classes. He did not suffer any brain damage, but did hurt his neck, left wrist, hip and right leg in the single-car crash.
“I saw him two days ago,” offensive coordinator Neal Brown said Thursday. “He has lost some weight. He has some scars on his arm. He is lucky to be walking around.He is eager. I think he is feeling better. He is taking classes, but he is not working out yet.
“Talk about a kid who is super appreciative of the support and well wishes he had from Kentucky fans. He hand wrote everyone back who sent him car.”
Will Lowery play again?
“I think we are cautiously optimistic,” Brown said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
NICHOLASVILLE — Kentucky has what is being regarded as the nation’s most difficult football schedule next season that includes six teams ranked in the top 25 of most preseason polls.
Even with UK coming off a 2-10 season and transitioning to new coach Mark Stoops and his staff, expectations are soaring for the Wildcats because of Stoops and the way recruiting has gone. Season ticket sales are up after more than 50,000 fans came to UK’s Blue-White Game to end spring practice.
New offensive coordinator Neal Brown was asked how to balance a difficult schedule with expectations during an appearance here Thursday night for the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“You use it (the schedule) as a positive,” said Brown. “Any time we talk to recruits, we are not selling hopes and dreams. We give them a realistic picture of where we are and also where we want to be. That October stretch (Florida, South Carolina, Alabama) will be tough and a grind. But you meet it head on and use it as a positive.
“At the end of day, the guys we are recruiting want to get degrees and play in the NFL. How do you get into the NFL? You have to have great video. If you are playing against the best in the SEC, that goes a long way toward that.”
Brown said the UK staff has not tried to “hide” from how difficult this season good be.
“We have faith in the players here. They are getting better. But we don’t go around selling things that we might not be prepared for yet,” Brown said. “We are selling the university, the football program, what we have done as coaches and what could happen, and those possibilities are endless.”
Brown said he did not have “answer your want to hear” when asked about what a realistic expectation for a successful season would be. He said he didn’t want to “put a number” of wins on the season because he’s been out of the Southeastern Conference at Texas Tech and is not sure exactly what to expect.
“I think a realistic goal for us is to show gradual improvement. We would love to make a big jump and be the best team in the SEC. Probably we are not there. But it will be huge for us to keep positive momentum going with the fan base and recruiting,” Brown said.
He noted how Mississippi exceeded expectations last season.
“We would love to repeat that. Can we do that? I don’t now. Our schedule is tough .If we can keep getting better and keep this positive momentum going, that is the primary thing we have to do,” Brown said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
If there is one thing that should be obvious to elite offensive players about Kentucky football, it’s that the Wildcats will have plenty of chances for playmakers to shine.
“Over the last three years Texas Tech, we were number one team in plays per game,” said new UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown. “We will play faster (than UK did last year). We are a pass-oriented team, but we will run.”
One of those running starting in 2014 could be Georgia’s Stanley “Boom” Williams. He verbally committed to the Wildcats — he’s UK’s 16 commitment in the 2014 recruiting class — during a visit to Lexington Thursday. Rivals.com ranks him not only as a four-star player, but also as the nation’s all-purpose back and 96th overall player in the country.
That makes him Kentucky’s highest ranked recruit in seven years and the first top 100 player to pick UK since Micah Johnson in 2006. His decision also boosted UK to No. 3 in Rival.com’s team rankings for the 2014 class.
Williams, nicknamed “Boom,” rushed for 1,958 yards and 24 touchdowns last year at George Walton Academy. His offers included Clemson, Georgia, Auburn, Georgia Tech, LSU, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Williams had committed to Georgia after his freshman season because he said he grew up a Georgia fan and couldn’t wait to commit when he got an offer. However, he recently de-committed from Georgia.
“I dreamed of playing for Georgia and after I ran a 4.28 (second 40-yard dash) my freshman year, me and my family thought committing was the right thing to do. But now I am opening everything back up. We all thought that would be best and not just have my eyes set on one decision and not see what my other options are,” Williams said in a recent interview with The Advocate-Messenger.
Williams, who said he recently ran a 4.31 40, said he felt he would be a “good fit” in Brown’s offense before his visit.
“I think I am more of a spread running back. I can play in any offense. I don’t prefer any particular offense as long as I am helping my team win,” Williams said. “But I do see myself as a good fit in his offense as far as helping the team and making plays, catching the ball, running the ball and blocking. Those are all things I mainly do already.”
He spent spring practice working as a slot receiver working on routes and catching the ball.
Brown wants an all-around back in his fast-paced offense.
During a talk in Nicholasville Thursday night as part of a fundraiser for the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown praised UK senior back Raymond Sanders for his expected role in next season’s offense. “Raymond was our best back in the spring. He is an all-purpose guy. He can make people miss, catch balls. He can do a lot of things in our offense,” Brown said.
When Brown was at Texas Tech, Williams was being recruited by running backs coach Chad Scott, who came to UK with Brown.
“Recruiting is absolutely the No. 1 thing we have to do,” Brown said Thursday night. “I feel like we have really good coaches but I do not care what sport you are playing, you are only as good as your players. If you don’t recruit at a superior level, you won’t win.”
Kentucky is doing that under first-year coach Mark Stoops. Kentucky now has commitments from five players ranked among the nation’s top 200 players by Rivals.com in its 2014 recruiting class after getting two in the top 225 last year.