Most Recent Posts
- 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
- UK commit Stanley Williams ready to bring the “Boom” to Kentucky football
- Calipari uses Twitter to explain Kentucky’s recruiting success
- Longtime sports writer Joey Fosko dies from apparent heart attack
- Kentucky offers athletic 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman
By LARRY VAUGHT
Ryan Hockman was a three-sport standout at Harrison (Ohio) High School who earned SuperPrep Magazine All-American honors as a quarterback and was named the Ohio Player of the Year in 1987 before going to the University of Kentucky to play his college football.
Now he runs Score 6 QB Academy in Seattle as has developed a reputation for helping quarterbacks improve. His list of clients includes Michigan’s Devin Gardner, the top-ranked quarterback in the 2010 recruiting class, and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, the nation’s top overall prospect in the 2011 class.
He has also coached on the high school, college and professional level.
He’s heard and seen plenty already on Caldwell County junior quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who got a scholarship offer from Kentucky last week after his impressive performance at UK’s summer camp. Hockman has even given Sindelar’s name to Ohio State recruiters when he was asked about top quarterback prospects he knew, especially after another former UK quarterback, Freddie Maggard, raved about Sindelar.
“I haven’t seen him live, but he looked impressive on film. It’s hard to tell exactly on film, even with today’s quality of film. That’s why it is rare for a college coaches to offer a player (a scholarship) if they have not seen him live,” said Hockman, who currently lives in Seattle. “But I know Ohio State really likes him.
“He is really smooth. He was a three-sport star and has not really just focused on the position that much (he has now given up basketball and plays only football and baseball). People are intrigued by his ability and his athleticism. He’s raw, but you can see his ability. It won’t take long to master the mechanics of the footwork. Where guys struggle is if they are not a baseball player, they struggle mechanically up top. I know he will be fine. He does not have a long delivery for a baseball player. He is a good enough athlete to make adjustments. You can see that on film.”
Sindelar, who is already being projected as a possible first-round major league baseball draft pick, apparently will go to camp at Ohio State.
“If he goes up there and gets an offer like I think, look out. If you get an early offer from Ohio State, a lot can happen,” Hockman said.
Sindelar has good size, but Hockman says the recent success of quarterbacks like Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) and Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) have shown it is about creating space and not the size of the quarterback.
“If you are 6-4, you don’t have to create as much space. That will never change. But more of the attraction now is if the quarterback can move and is smooth and effortless. Sindelar has a burst when he needs it. He’s not a 4.5 (40 yard dash) guy. He’s not playing against Florida or SEC caliber athletes, but he still looks like a man among boys,” Hockman said. “When he has to, he has that burst he needs. He separates real fast. That’s more important to people than being a 4.5 guy. He’s not a project. He is not the type athlete Braxton Miller is, but he’s a smooth operator.
“I like guys that play baseball because of the number of throws they get from different arm slots. If you play in the infield, you have got to change your arm slot. In today’s offenses with all the quick screens, you have to have different arms slots to make throws. With the offense Kentucky runs now, the quarterback will almosts always be throwing through bodies on quick screens. Baseball guys like Sindelar can do that. Some others might struggle.”
Hockman sees Ohio State’s sudden interest in Sindelar, as well as John Hardin senior tackle Matt Elam, as a sign that new UK coach Mark Stoops’ recruiting success in Ohio could be troubling the Buckeyes and coach Urban Meyer.
“Just from afar, there are signals to me that Urban Meyer is a little irked or nervous. Going after Elijah is a big signal,” Hockman said. “Stoops is going into Ohio and picking off really good Ohio kids. It has been a long time since Kentucky has gone into Ohio and done that, so it is probably not sitting well with Urban. I am sure that has a little bit to do with Ohio State’s interest in Kentucky kids.”
All he wanted for his son was to have him with the “right people for him” and Keith Pullium feels that’s exactly what happened when he decided to verbally commit to play for Mark Stoops at Kentucky.
“I was in favor of this 100 percent,” said Keith Pullium about his son, Blinn College defensive back Shyquawn, committing to UK last week. “I was familiar with Stoops from the past. That was a big part of it, the connection with Stoops. That was the main thing. I wanted my son with the right people for him and that was Stoops.”
The 6-1, 190-pound Pullium was a 2010 commitment to Penn State after his career at Cathedral Prep School in Erie, Pa. He was a three-star prospect and ranked among the top 30 players in the state by Rivals.com. He didn’t get to enroll at Penn State when he failed to make the necessary test score and went to prep school before again signing with Penn State. However, he again had to look for another option.
His father called his brother, who was living in Virginia, about two months before it was finalized that his son would not be going to Penn State. “Penn State is a great school and program, but they kind of left me out of the recruiting process,” Keith Pullium said. “I was not a big fan of Penn State. I didn’t feel right about the situation. My brother found four schools and told me to contact Blinn. When they saw his highlight video, they offered him. I didn’t know about it, but my brother was about to move to Dallas. I told Shyquawn if he went, I would move. It was about three hours away, but I was with him. I went to culinary school while I was down there.”
Shyquawn Pullium was a three-sport standout in high school and played quarterback.
“I was the one who got him into playing and didn’t know how it would turn out,” his father said. “I see a lot of weaknesses in his play. I tried to encourage him to play quarterback but he went to prep school and his team was not that good. He got hit a lot and got tired of that. Even Blinn wanted him to play quarterback, but he was just tired of getting hit. I wanted him to play quarterback, or give it a try, but he wanted to play defense and play cornerback>
Blinn defensive coordinator Mike Mutz said Pullium’s transition to cornerback was “kind of unique” after he came to Blinn, redshirted and played receiver until just before his freshman season started.
“Our starting cornerback got a Division I offer and took it about a week before practice started,” Mutz said. “That left a gaping hole. We looked at him as one of the most talented athletes on offense, but we needed help on defense. He started every game at corner as a freshman. He seemed to get better and better. He didn’t have any spring ball to work on technique even though we had to throw him in the fire, and that’s not an easy position to do that.
“He got better as the year went on and really got better this spring. We ask our corners to play more man and one-on-one than being involved in the run support game. Really, his strength is his ability to cover because of his athleticism. He’s such a natural athlete. And once the ball is in the air, he has really good ball skills. He can attack the ball and take it away from people. He has great ability to play the ball.”
His father says his son can play a “lot of positions on both sides of the ball” because he is tall, lanky and athletic.
“It all depends on how much bulk he can put on. The more he puts on, the more he can move around,” Keith Pullium said. “He could turn out to be a safety.”
Shyquawn Pullium is taking classes and will go to both summer school sessions so he can graduate in December and enroll at UK in January.
“He’s a good kid, a coachable kid,” his father said. “His best is yet to come. He has a lot more to show. He has become very hungry. I tell him all the time about getting another chance to prove himself. We’ve been down this road already. Don’t repeat it. Learn from the past. He is ver humble. He’s not a kid to talk back. He is well mannered. That has helped bring him a long way. I really believe the whole junior college experience has been a blessing. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Keith Pullium says he may move to Lexington because his son “needs somebody close” and the move would not be that difficult.
“I think Kentucky to trying to build something really good,” Keith Pullium said. “He is very excited to be coming. He liked the early interest they showed and that they kept showing interest. He wants to help Kentucky get to a bowl game and get the name out there.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Georgia twins Daron and Zack Blaylock both played as true freshmen for Kentucky last year and both expect to be key contributors in the secondary this season. However, they may not be as talented as their 12-year-old brother, Dominick.
The younger Blaylock won the “fastest man” competition in Cooperstown, N.Y., recently by run the 70-foot bases in 12.5 seconds. He also won the competition at age 10.
“He is Cooperstown’s only two time champion and his cleats will be displayed in the Cooperstown Youth Hall of Fame,” said John Woods, the Blaylocks stepfather.
Dominick Blaylock was in Cooperstown playing with a traveling baseball team. But that’s not his only sport.
“He also got invited to the FBU Top Gun Football Camp in July. FBU runs the Army All-American for High School and East Bay All-American for Middle School Game. Dominick got invited last year as a sixth grader to participate with the seventh graders and performed very well,” Woods said.
Woods noted that Walton High School in Marietta, Ga., has numerous players now playing Division I football as well as several Division I prospects on the team now, including cornerback D.J. Smith who has a scholarship offer from Kentucky.
“I have been told Dominick will the starting tailback as a ninth grader,” Woods said. “He will definitely be a four-star player, maybe five-star. He is definitely a special kid.
“Every time you see him, he has on a Kentucky T-shirt. He’s a big Kentucky fan. I don’t know if (UK offensive coordinator) Neal Brown will still be around in five years, but if he is Dominick is the kind of give you give the ball. I really think he is going to be even better than a kid like (UK signee Ryan) Timmons. He’s that good already.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
The more I talk to coaches and recruits, the more I sense just how effective Kentucky secondary coach Bradley Dale Peveto is as a recruiter.
Four-star Georgia running back Stanley Williams says he has built a “relationship” with Peveto. “I talk to him once or twice a week. We talk football. I also talk to (offensive coordinator) Neal Brown and try to build a relationship with him. I am getting to know him better,” Williams said.
Williams admits that UK started recruiting him “a little late” due to the firing of coach Joker Phillips and hiring of new coach Mark Stoops.
“It is what it is,” Williams said. “Coach Peveto is really good. He is very fired up and passionate about what he does. Me and him have that in common. We give 100 percent and show intensity in all we do whether it is recruiting or in practice or a game. We are a lot alike.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Karl Towns Jr. is an elite basketball player. When you are a teenage who is 7-feet tall, can handle the basketball and have 3-point range, your destined for stardom. He’s already played against many of the best NBA players and will again be on the Dominican Republic National Team this summer.
That’s why I see no reason to overreact to the New Jersey prep standout admitting that he’s thinking about playing baseball for St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey, during his senior year before he heads off to play basketball for Kentucky and coach John Calipari.
Here is what Towns, who won’t be 18 until November and was the youngest player at the Nike Hoop Summit in April, recently told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com.
“Yeah, I’m thinking about playing baseball for St. Joe’s, so I’m really happy,” Towns said. “I’m trying to make a return.”
Some will wonder if Towns, who also likes to play golf but seldom has time to do that, is risking too much injury-wise by playing baseball and possibly putting undue stress on his arm and shoulder if he pitches as he did before he walked away from the game. But remember, Towns told me in an earlier interview there was a time he walked away from basketball because he thought he loved baseball more.
“I actually quit basketball and wanted to be a baseball star,” Towns said. “I didn’t want to play basketball any more. That was about three years ago I think. But after three weeks of playing baseball, I missed basketball. I was a pitcher, first baseman, outfielder, third baseman. I loved it. My dad was a little irked that I quit basketball, but he supported me and went to all my games across the country.
“I sill love baseball, but since I took that break from basketball and came back my drive for basketball has been at a high level. That break gave me an even greater passion for basketball, and I needed that.”
Now maybe he just needs a break from the spotlight and year-round grind of basketball. What’s wrong with letting a youngster enjoy himself and just play a sport because he thinks it will be fun? He’s going to be playing basketball for a long time — maybe one year at UK and then the NBA — so if he wants a two-month break, so be it.
Never did 6-6, 350-pound Matt Elam imagine he would become such a big-time recruit after his junior season at John Hardin ended last year. Bt that happened once Alabama coach Nick Saban, who has won three national titles in the last four years, offered him a scholarship shortly after he got his first offer from Kentucky after attending a basketball game in Rupp Arena.
“It is crazy big. I would never think all this could have happened,” Elam said. “Last year I would never have imagined any of this.”
So what happened to transform him from an all-state defensive tackle to a four-star national recruit who is now Kentucky’s top in-state priority following the earlier verbal commitment of Conner quarterback Drew Barker? Elam believes it was a combination of coaches evaluating his film and then Alabama making the scholarship offer.
“When I got to Alabama two weeks after the UK offer, the coaches told me they could not believe I was 6-6, 350,” he said. “They said they thought I was about 6-3, 310 but I was the size of a freaking house and how I moved was amazing. I didn’t think I would get an offer. Then I went to coach (Nick) Saban’s office and all the other prospects were waiting and I went right in. I ended up getting the scholarship offer then.
“Coach Saban shook my hand and I told him I had a weird question but I wanted to know if I could get my picture with him. He laughed and took the picture. But once coach Saban offered, then things got really hectic. A lot more schools started jumping in.”
Elam, who lives with his mom and sister, says it has been “crazy” for his family, and they don’t always understand the whole process. He says his coach gets calls daily but thinks the process “has been fun.”
Since Barker committed, Elam has been the center of attention in the Bluegrass, with his every tweet scrutinized by fans.
“I would say it has been kind of harder. Everybody is saying Kentucky has the No. 1 (in-state) prospect in Drew after he jumped on board and now I am the No. 1 prospect on defense. We talked two days before he committed. We talk a lot. I have a great relationship with Drew,” Elam said.
They’ll be together at Kentucky for camp June 10-11, when many of UK’s top recruits will also be present. Elam is also planning a two-day trip to Alabama. He was supposed to go to Ohio State on Sunday but likely will cancel those plans.
“I just have to figure everything out. I feel like at times during the school year I was gone to a college every different weekend,” Elam said. “With school out, it makes it easier. I had to get my grades up, but I finished up well. I can focus on getting in shape and keeping my weight down. I just love having the summer to go camps and take visits.”
Elam knows he could be a “marked man” during his senior season because of the publicity he’s received. However, that doesn’t worry him.
“I just think it will push me harder to play better. I will not slack off because I have nice offers on the table,” he said.
He also likely will not rush to make a commitment.
“All this has been pretty cool, but I just plan to wait and see what happens,” Elam said. “I’m not going to rush anything. I am going to just wait this thing out. I will probably commit after my season, or maybe during the season. But I don’t want to rush.”
Kentucky now has 10 players in its 2014 recruiting class — compared to one at this time a year ago — with the commitment from Blinn College defensive back Shyquawn Pullium Sunday. The junior college standout was recruited by UK running backs coach Chad Scott.
The 6-1, 190-pound Pullium was a 2010 commitment to Penn State as a high school senior at Cathedral Prep School in Erie, Penn., when he was rated a three-star player and No. 31 prospect in the state by Rivals.com.
He played one year at Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pa., and signed with Penn State again before ending up at Blinn, a junior college. He had 12 tackles and two pass breakups last season.
Patrick Loney of http://kentuckybluesportsnews.com recently asked Pullium about his strengths and areas of improvements.
“Strengths are coverage and aggressive weakness is a strength. I’m aggressive and cover well. Areas of improvement is I guess over aggressive,” Pullium told Loney.
By LARRY VAUGHT
The consensus is that John Hardin defensive tackle Matt Elam will pick between Kentucky, Alabama and Louisville, much like Conner quarterback Drew Barker did when he picked the Wildcats over South Carolina and Tennessee. While he acknowledges out of the offers he’s received that he would call them the “frontrunners,” he made it sound like Louisville is a distant third during his time on WLAP Sunday morning with Anthony White, Ryan Lemond and myself.
“I want to stick with the SEC, but Louisville is close to home,” Elam said. “However, I think I will stick to SEC football over anything.”
He says his mom supports any decision he makes, but he knows she would “love” having a short trip to Lexington to visit or see him play. “It makes it a little harder knowing she wants me to stay. It’s crazy,” Elam said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky commit Drew Barker of Conner is one of 18 quarterbacks that have been invited to the Elite 11 competition in Oregon later this month based on his performance in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday — one of six sites across the nation. He was named MVP of the quarterbacks that competed in Columbus after a dominating performance and now will compete in Oregon to determine the Elite 11.
Here’s what Barker posted on Twitter after his selection: “So blessed & excited to be invited to the @Elite11 / @TheOpening_2013 THANK YOU to everyone who is showing support! Wish I could thank u all.”
Barker noted that he learned he had to improve his footwork after working with former NFL quarterbacks Trent Dilfer and Jordan Palmer at the camp.
Kentucky fans also don’t have to worry about Barker getting other offers and maybe changing his mind about UK. He’s committed to UK, coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Neal Brown.
By LARRY VAUGHT
By many standards, Alex Poythress had a solid, successful freshman season. By the standard that other freshmen under John Calipari have set, Poythress’ season was not that great.
“Because the standards here are higher, and that’s why kids come here. It has nothing to do with anything other than: Now you’ve got a competitive spirit going, because it’s you and a guy every day in practice. And it’s going to bring out the best in him. Believe me, he wants to do well,” Calipari said of Poythress. “I don’t believe I can tell individuals – if they got a 4.0 (GPA), I can’t say those things, but he did well academically. He’s a conscientious kid.
“This overwhelmed him. It overwhelmed him. You think about yourself, if I put you in there. It wouldn’t overwhelm you? There are kids that come here that take longer. It doesn’t matter to me if you take one, two, three or four years. Does it really matter? I just want you to get it so you’re ready to go on and have success.
“Some kids – Terrence Jones, it took two years. Darius (Miller) took four years. Now you look at Darius (and) do you know what they say? Anthony Davis told me, ‘Coach, you won’t believe this: We (Hornets) play Darius Miller as a stopper on defense.’ Think about that. So he’s tougher now. He’s more aggressive. I watched him in the gym in there; he makes every shot now. Well, he was now ready to go on to have success.
“One year, two years, three years – Alex is taking a little more time. And if it takes another year, what’s the problem? What if it takes them three or four years, what’s the problem? Well, we’re not on the 25 year old model here and if you don’t make it in two or three years what’s wrong with you? What? The only kids held to that standard are here. We’ve probably done it to ourselves but …”