Most Recent Posts
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- Matt Elam says he is “very high” on Kentucky after official visit
- NBA draft expert Ed Isaacson says Kentucky freshman Julius Randle needs to “more active” on defnse, more “involved” in rebounding
- Vitale wonders if Kentucky could be missing Kyle Wiltjer even more than he ever imagined
- eRUPPtion Zone tickets available for Kentucky vs. Belmont Game Saturday
- Vitale urges Kentucky fans to be patient, says “win over Louisville could be just the medicine they need”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Chris Davis Sr. knew when his twin sons, Chris and Demetrious, transferred to Kentucky after a redshirt season at Pittsburgh that playing in the Southeastern Conference would be different. However, he never imagined just how different even though his sons can’t play in games this year because they were not granted a waiver for immediate eligibility by the NCAA.
“Kentucky, one thing I’ve got to say … a lot of people do not get to experience SEC football. You hear about it, but until you are able to live it and be part of it, you can’t believe it. It is amazing,” said Davis Sr.
He became a true Kentucky football believer at the Kentucky-Louisville game and then that feeling only got reinforced when UK hosted Florida and Alabama.
“At Pittsburgh, there would be 20,000 fans in the stands for a big game. Here there are over 60,000 for a team that went 2-10 last year. That’s amazing,” Davis Sr. said. “You don’t have empty seats here. Fireworks are going off. It’s exciting. My sons got chills just having the fireworks go off. That got their competitive nature going. It’s an amazing thing to see.”
They have had other family members come to games, and leave equally impressed.
“You have to experience this. It’s just hard to explain to anyone else how amazing it is,” Davis Sr. said. “I have always been told the SEC is a league of its own, but the atmosphere is just so much different.”
The Davis were highly recruited as prep stars in Ohio before picking Pittsburgh. However, their father says the atmosphere and fan support at Kentucky is second to none.
“You say Ohio State or some other places, but this is more. Just the tailgates all around the stadium and miles down from the stadium,” Davis Sr. said. “Every parking lot is a tailgate here. It’s really amazing.”
He says while the atmosphere has to be impressive to players/recruits, it also sells parents.
“All parents like to see their child play where they know the community is supporting the team,” Davis Sr. said. “It’s not just about your child, but the team and when the fans come out and support the team like this it is impressive. Even if they lose, they are here for the team.
“These are not fair-weather fans here at Kentucky. They are good. When you go 2-10 and fans are here like this, and that’s not a shot at last year’s Kentucky team, but these are loyal, die-hard fans that impress kids and their parents maybe even more. That’s very good. The scary part is that when we starting winning a lot, what it will be like then. They may tear the town up like they are used to doing in basketball.”
Davis Sr. is friends with Kentucky assistant coach Vince Marrow, who immediately told the family not to believe the nationwide perception that Kentucky is a “basketball school” and not interested in football.He told us, ‘They have not done very well in football, but the fans are crazy about football here.’ Then they had over 50,000 at the spring game, which was really impressive,” Davis Sr. said.
When the Davis twins came to visit, UK fans already knew who they were and were telling them thanks just for visiting.
“The fans would say things like, ‘Can’t wait to see you play.’ That’s an amazing thing coming from someone who has not seen you play except maybe on videos,” the father said. “That’s why I say this is just an amazing spot for football and one that is just going to take off and get better and better. I would tell any parent of anyone UK is recruiting just to come and experience the atmosphere and they’ll see what is taking off here. We believed, but until we got to a game, even we didn’t really know how special this could be.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
While he knows what a challenge playing No. 1 Alabama, the winner of two straight national titles and three of the last four, Kentucky senior tight end Jordan Aumiller also has a different perspective on Saturday night’s game.
“I am really excited. We are all excited about the game,” said Aumiller. “But it is just a big opportunity for us as a team and for UK as a program. It’s an exciting opportunity for us because we have not played a No. 1 team. So instead of a challenge, we see an opportunity.
“Nothing is impossible. They don’t have any real weaknesses and we cannot afford to beat ourselves. But if we do our jobs, we have a chance to win. We have confidence. You have got to have confidence in any sport or you have no chance to win at all. We just have to take that confidence to the field and realize what an opportunity we have. The coaches know we are playing the No. 1 team and remind us we are playing the best team in the nation and that we have to be prepared for that.”
Aumiller knows about taking advantage of opportunities. After a stellar prep career at Boyle County, he redshirted at UK in 2009 before moving from linebacker to tight end for 2010. He played in all 13 games, including eight starts, and caught 18 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown to earn fourth-team freshman All-American honors. Southeastern Conference coaches named him to the league’s all-freshman team.
In 2011, he started against Western Kentucky in the opening game. That was his last start until this season. He did play in 10 games in 2011, but last year he played in only three.
Now he’s back playing full time and had three catches for 34 yards in last week’s 35-28 loss at South Carolina.
“We know we just have to compete and not make mistakes and do our jobs. Not just one guy, but everybody has to do their job at all times like we did late at South Carolina. Then stuff will work right and we can keep clicking,” Aumiller said. “I think last week helped us. We have come out to practice this week and worked super hard because it was good to see results of our work pay off. It just all boils down to doing your job and executing.”
Aumiller says it was “absolutely nice” to have balls thrown his way by quarterback Jalen Whitlow last week when Whitlow played the entire game rather than alternating with Maxwell Smith.
“When the ball comes to me, I am expected to catch it. When it is a running play, I am expected to do my job and block,” Aumiller said. “It’s just the way the game was going. It just happened to be me to get some balls. But it wasn’t because of us just playing one quarterback. If it is Jalen or Max, my job stays the same.
“I have felt our offense was getting better. We watch a lot of film and you could see it here and there, but there were always small things we did to hurt ourselves. Now we have started clicking. We just have to come out Saturday again and expect to win.”
Against Alabama’s defense?
“They are No. 1 for a reason and they did not have any lapses. We have game plan and we just have to execute it,” Aumiller said.
Aumiller appreciates the confidence tight ends coach Vince Marrow has shown in him considering for two years he heard that he was not physical enough to be on the field.
“I am just doing what coach Marrow and (offensive coordinator) coach (Neal) Brown ask me to do and that is to do my best. I try to go out and be physical and do my job and let the chips fall where they may,” Aumiller said. “What is in the past is in the pat. I know what I can do and not do. It’s all about believing in yourself and working hard. This year is my senior and I want to lead the program in the right direction.
“Coach Marrow really knows how to relate to players. He knows how to push and motivate us. He has high expectations for us. The last thing I want to do is disappoint him, coach Brown or coach (Mark) Stoops.”
Aumiller hopes UK fans turn out to support the team like they did against Louisville and Florida, UK’s last two home games.
“There’s nothing better than playing in front of a loud crowd the whole game and have them cheering and yelling for our defense. That makes a world of difference,” Aumiller said. “When we are on the road, I know how that impacts us.
“We are in the entertainment business and we want to please the fans and win games. The louder it is Saturday, the better for us.”
Question: What impact does the game-day atmosphere at Commonwealth Stadium have on recruiting?
Vince Marrow: “It don’t get no better than it was against Louisville. We had probably over 70 major, big-time recruits between the 2014, 2015 and 2016 classes with their parents. You see all these other schools using that crap that Kentucky fans don’t come out. Spring game, now this game against Louisville. The fans of Kentucky football speak for themselves.”
Question: Does that atmosphere impress recruits or their parents more?
Vince Marrow: “I think it sells the parents. They see the atmosphere. It sells that they are closer to home and you can go get this atmosphere and this type of experience here.
“But it also sells the players. I am always putting myself in position of the players and I am saying, ‘I see the Cat Walk, and fans know our recruits.’ I am going to be honest with you. This is no different — and I was in Nebrask for three years — but this is no different than Nebraska for fan support.
“I don’t know what happened here last year or the year before. I just know what I see. Over 50,000 at spring game, and then seeing this Louisville game. And even when we went to Nashville (to play Western Kentucky), the fans traveled down there.
“It is here. All we ask is that the fans show up. I think they have to appreciate what we put out there, and it is going to get better.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
From the day he arrived at Kentucky, assistant coach Vince Marrow has believed that the Wildcats’ football program is going to rise to a new level under coach Mark Stoops, his childhood friend.
Marrow, Kentucky’s tight ends coach, has had incredible success recruiting in Ohio, and the Cats’ 1-2 start has done nothing to dampen his enthusiasm.
“This thing is going to change, and it’s going to change quick. I have a good group of experience at tight ends. They are hard kids that want to win and they play hard for me. But I can’t say these guys are not used to losing. That’s why you see the younger guys are coming. They are making plays,” Marrow said. “But I believe this: Some programs are where they are at, and some are on their way down, and some are on their way up. I am telling you, these people we recruit against, they know. They know, and that’s why the people in the Midwest are so upset with kids we are getting from Ohio and other places. We have their attention.”
Here’s more of what Marrow had to say about the Kentucky program:
Question: How much better do you feel about this team because of the fight it showed against Louisville that was missing against Western Kentucky?
Marrow: “I am like Mark (Stoops). I am from the same place. We don’t believe in having somebody say, ‘You guys played well.’ We want to win the game. But from week one to week three, it was a big improvement, and I have to give these guys credit — they are really fighting. I really was encouraged.
“Of course you want to win, but they took to the field what they have been taught in practice.”
Question: Can a team lose a game and still take a step forward?
Marrow: “This may be the first time you will hear me say this, but I was very proud of the way these guys played against Louisville. The crowd had to see these guys fought to the end. We had our opportunities … that’s what the fans are going to see.
“We are going to coach real hard, and it is going to get better. We are going to get more and more players in here. I am just speaking for myself, but we are going to refuse to take a back seat to anyone. I really like where we are going. I really do.”
Question: Is that the same thing you are telling players verbally committed in the 2014 recruiting class?
Marrow: “Yes. You can’t be a second fiddle or second character to people or other programs. When we came here, we said we were going to recruit the best players. That’s what we are doing, and they are buying into it.
“People think, and we keep hearing it, that our recruits may back off after we lost to Western Kentucky. Those guys were texting me and each other and Facebooking each other saying they couldn’t wait until they get here. They know our staff and what we are doing here.
“I am very proud of the players we have here now and very proud of the players we will have in the future.”
Question: How much do the current freshmen help sell the program to recruits?
Marrow: “I want to say 80 percent or more of them are playing, and they ain’t just playing because we are throwing them in there. They are good. You look at Ryan Timmons, Marcus McWilson, Jaleel Hytchye, JoJo Kemp, Jeff Badet, Jason Hatcher. You can go on and on.
“The good thing about that is the type of guys we were recruiting, we knew we were going against the best teams in the country. We are getting these guys and they are making an impact.”
Question: Do you feel even more strongly that future recruiting is going to get better and better?
Marrow: “I feel that. We had six weeks in recruiting last year, and it was a top-25 class. With the 2014 class, we are in the top five, top 10. We are on them, and our 2014 class is almost filled up like the other big programs do. We are on to the 2015 and 2016 kids. We have a good jump on these guys.
“We have some major, big-time kids here for the Louisville game that will be top-200, top-250 kids in the country. They see what the 2014 class is doing … and I am not just speaking for Ohio. I am speaking nationally. You got the top Kentucky kids, the top Ohio kids, and nationally other kids want to come and play with great players.
“So they look at the offer list and they see they have got Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Nebraska, and they are coming to Kentucky. So they want to go play in the SEC and be close to home, too.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
First of several segments coming in next two days with UK tight ends coach and recuriting guru Vince Marrow. Enjoy.
Question: What did you take out of the Louisville game?
Marrow: “It was a tough game. The defense played well the first half and we had our opportunities, but when you have a young team that is still learning the offense sometimes you have mistakes. The defense played well enough the first half to let us be in the game.”
Question: For product you are selling to recruits, did just making substantial overall improvement from game one to game three help?
Marrow: “We had a lot of recruits here for Louisville. They said the same thing. You can see the guys making plays. We have a lot of first-year players in this offense making plays. We are playing young guys and we are recruiting guys that can fit this offense. Half of them were here for Louisville and they can see it. It’s not hard to sell. They know what our direction is and what our plan is and the kids are buying into it.”
Question: Since you have been clear that you want to be known as a coach who can recruit and not just a recruiter, does it please you to see this overall team improving and does that show recruits this staff can make them better?
Marrow: “Yes. As a former pro athlete, seeing this staff and being around them, they are very good young coaches. These guys are very technique sound and you see from week one to week two to week three, this team is improving. I always try to put myself in position as a player, and I really like what I see. You saw our defense against Louisville. You had guys making plays and that’s all due to coaching.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
The last two years Kentucky has not had a tight end that has consistently been able to make big plays in the passing game. Whether it was the players’ lack of talent, quarterback play or the offensive system, Kentucky opponents learned not to have to worry about respecting a deep threat from UK’s tight ends.
New offensive coordinator Neal Brown wants the tight end to be a vital part of the offense, and tight ends coach Vince Marrow says it will be in a variety of ways when the Cats open the season Saturday night in Nashville against Western Kentucky.
“As a group, I think we are probaby one of the top groups on the team. We are very experienced. I have four seniors, guys that know how to work. I am very pleased with them,” said Marrow. “I don’t have to spend that much time teaching. We go over certain things and those guys get it. It is a very experienced group that I really like.
“I like the whole group but the guys who are asserting themselves are Anthony Kendrick, Jordan Aumiller. Steven Borden has a lot of talent and is doing some good things, but just needs a lot of reps. Really good group, really good experience. If I had to single anyone out, Jordan and Anthony. They are making a lot of plays. They are two big guys that can get down the field, but they are in-line blockers, too. That lets us do a lot of different things with those two.”
However, he said both Borden and senior Tyler Robinson, who was slowed part of training camp with an injury, can help, too.
“Borden has the same athletic ability as Kendrick. Just as strong and explosive. He just needs reps. He is going to be a factor. You can’t keep a kid like that on the sideline,” Marrow said. “I really like the whole group, but those three … Tyler Robinson can help a lot, too. He’s a tough kid, but also a good receiver.”
Marrow says Kendrick, Aumiller and Borden are interchangeable and can play a true tight end, split end or even fullback.
“They can bring a big problem to the defense because you don’t know where to sit your front at. Neal with that offense, just having that type of guy is really good for us,” Marrow said.
Marrow has made a name for himself with his recruiting. Now he’s ready for his tight ends to show everyone he can coach, too.
“I am just enjoying being around these guys. I was gone … I was on the road every week recruiting forever. I just really wanted to get back with these guys and getting back working with them now it is really feeling like home to me. I can’t wait to see how they play,” he said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Tight ends coach Vince Marrow stunned me when he told me he was “surprised” tight end Jordan Aumiller didn’t play last year and that he was the team’s “best blocker.” For the last two years, all I heard was that Aumiller couldn’t block and wasn’t physical. Now he’s suddenly the “best blocker” at tight end. How can that be?
So what is the biggest difference from last year to this year?
“It’s a lot of enthusiasm, and higher energy. There’s a lot of positive energy,” senior tight end Anthony Kendrick, who was academically ineligible last year, said. “You can feel the positivity before we come out to practice, and as we’re practicing. If something bad happens, we just make sure that we don’t dwell on the bad things and make sure we know that, ‘Hey, we know what we did. Let’s move on. Let’s be positive. Let’s go on to the next level.’”
Obviously, it must not have been that way last year?
“Ultimately, it’s what coach Stoops brought in. When he first came, he told us that he wanted us to be proud to be Wildcats,” Kendrick said. “He wanted us to be proud to walk around and say that we play football for Kentucky. That’s what we want to feel. We
By LARRY VAUGHT
Senior tight end Jordan Aumiller admits it has been an interesting journey from coming to UK as a linebacker, moving to tight end after his redshirt freshman season, getting to start and then playing almost none last year to where he is now.
“It has been up and down. Good times, bad times. But it is my last year and I am making the most out of it and leaving it all out there. I don’t want to have any regrets,” Aumiller said. “I don’t think many UK fans enjoyed last year. I didn’t and the players didn’t. We want this year to be different.”
Aumiller won’t criticize Greg Nord, his tight ends coach last year, or Randy Sanders, UK’s offensive coordinator last season. When asked why new UK tight ends coach Vince Marrow believes he can block and they didn’t, he just smiles and praises Marrow.
“I definitely think I have gotten stronger. Coach Marrow is a really good coach and blocking is all about a mentality,” Aumiller said. “We all really enjoy being around coach Marrow. He gives us a good, positive attitude about everything. He expects us to go out there and whip up on the defensive ends or beat up on whoever we are blocking. This is my last year so I just go out there and bust it.
“My foot injury definitely helped me back last year. I am just excited. It is a whole new excitement. I think this strength program has really helped me out, but more than anything I really appreciate what coach Marrow has done for me.”
He’s also a Neal Brown fan. He didn’t know Brown, another former Boyle player, that well before the offensive coordinator got to UK, but he knew plenty about him.
“I just knew it was a spread offense. I didn’t even really know he used tight ends,” Aumiller said. “All of us tight ends were talking about who is going to be our coach and he may not use tight ends, but he has a really exciting offense. I knew him a little bit, but not like now. And I am thrilled the tight ends are a vital part of his offense. He expects us to be great and he coaches us to be great. It shows with his offenses everywhere he has been at Troy and Texas Tech that he can win. He pushes us. Just like all the coaches. All the coaches want you to be great and be 110 percent on every play.”
Aumiller, and other tight ends, will get to do a variety of things this year. Not only will they line up in the traditional tight end spot, but they will also sometimes be at a wide receiver spot and other times lined up at fullback.
Could Aumiller possibly get a chance to run the football?
“You never know. I wouldn’t mind doing that, but coach Marrow probably won’t let me carry the ball out of the backfield. But I will do my job whatever I have to do,” he said. “At fullback, you do different things. Block, motion, pass protection, just anything the team needs. We are hybrid players that do it all.”
He says improved strength and conditioning programs have helped him be in position to do more, too.
“Those coaches have high expectations for us off field and expect us take care of ourselves,” Aumiller said. “It is rough out here, but we do our best.”
Aumiller is convinced his best this year will be rewarded with an opportunity to play again.
“I think I am a lot more excited about this season and what could happen,” he said. “Everything works out. I’m healthy and hungry to play. Coach Marrow believes in me and I believe in my team. It’s just a lot more fun again.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
For the last two seasons, Jordan Aumiller had to deal with a variety of injuries as well as an offensive coaching staff that lost all faith in his ability to play tight end. The former Boyle County standout went from a fourth team freshman All-American pick by Phil Steele’s College Football with 18 catches for 193 yards and one score in 13 games to playing just 13 games total the next two years with no catches. He started the season-opening game against Western Kentucky in 2011, dropped a pass and then played sparingly after that. Last year he got in just three games when UK went 2-10.
Now Aumiller has a new lease on life going into his senior season thanks to a coaching change that has Neal Brown coordinating the offense and Vince Marrow coaching the tight ends.
“The coaching change was definitely like good for me. I tell some people, there could not have been a better scenario for this whole program. I wish this would have happened four years ago,” said Aumiller. “Nothing against (former UK head) coach (Joker) Phillips and them, but this is a great coaching staff and has us headed in the right direction. This is the third coaching staff for us fifth-year guys, but we are excited and going the right direction. I am healthy and happy.”
Marrow is happy with Aumiller, too.
“When I came in and took the job, I met with all the guys as a group and met with all of them individually and told them this a new start and the guy who works hard, plays hard is going to be in there,” Marrow said. “Jordan, I am surprised he didn’t play at all last year. I was really impressed with Jordan in the spring even though he missed the spring game (due to an injury). Both he and Anthony Kendrick, who had academic trouble last year, just kind of came out of nowhere and really are producing for us right now.”
Marrow says it’s hard not to like Aumiller’s ability in Brown’s spread offense.
“Jordan is a big guy at about 6-5, 240 (pounds). He can really stretch the field a little bit but he is a good blocker. He is really an all-around tight end. A guy that can really block the edge, get out on the perimeter and he has good hands for a big guy,” Marrow said.
One reason the previous coaching staff gave for not playing Aumiller was his inability to block. Marrow has a far different assessment.
“He is our best blocker right now. He has good pad level, good technique. Just got to be consistent. He is a good blocker,” Marrow said. “I challenged him. I sat down and talked to him that I knew he didn’t play last year but I liked his frame. In the spring, he was a guy that came off the ball, had good technique. He is our guy. I love him at that position.”
Aumiller, who had 53 catches for 829 yards and 10 scores at Boyle, didn’t complain publicly last year but those close to him knew the frustration he felt.
“He has worked hard to get through his back injury. I think this coaching staff can see how big a player he can be. He has really good hands, runs good routes and plays hard,” senior offensive tackle Kevin Mitchell, one of Aumiller’s best friends on the team, said. “Last year really bothered him. I don’t want to talk bad about old staff, but this staff has seen what he can do. We have a bunch of tight ends that can play. They are all going to be doing big things, but this year Jordan will definitely be a part of it.”
Kendrick, even though he’s competing with Aumiller, also is happy to see Aumiller being given a chance to play again.
“Jordan is my boy. Jordan is a great technician of the game. He takes everything the coach tells him and works on it every day,” Kendrick said. “He has a relentless attitude about himself. He never gets down. He never quits working. He just won’t give in.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
He always intended to make his college choice before his senior season started so he could concentrate on his final year at Westerville (Ohio) Central.
“Plus, that way in something happened with an injury, I would still have that scholarship,” said four-star offensive lineman Nick Richardson.
He eventually narrowed his choices to Kentucky and Vanderbilt before giving the Wildcats a needed verbal commitment last week one day after Brady Taylor, another offensive lineman, picked Virginia Tech over UK.
“Once I narrowed it down, I went back and forth on schools before in the end Kentucky just won out,” Richardson said. “I was actually hoping Brady would pick Kentucky, too. If he had done that, it would have sold me on Kentucky even more. It would have been a huge thing. I want more linemen to commit. It will just make it that much better.”
The 6-4, 285-pound Richardson had offers from numerous other schools he considered. Those included Indiana, Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Mississippi. He is ranked as No. 202 prospect by Rivals.com and the No. 19 offensive tackle.
Like UK’s other Ohio commits since Mark Stoops took over as head coach, Richardson credited assistant coach Vince Marrow for selling him on the Wildcats.
“He is a big Ohio guy. He sold me on the family atmosphere that these coaches have brought in. He is just a real good guy and is really excited about UK,” Richardson said.
It didn’t hurt that another UK commit, tight end Darryl Long, is also from Westerville and even though they are at rival schools, Long helped sell him on UK. His high school athletics director also had ties to UK and another student from his school is going to UK on a track scholarship.
“Darryl is from here and that makes it easier to go down there knowing I will know somebody,” he said. “We are competitors, but we are also friends. And he’s a really good player. But all the commits are so excited about playing for UK. Not just Darryl. That made the process more fun and they pushed me to buy into with them.”
He admits he grew up in a “Big Ten house” even though his parents never pushed him to favor any school.
“My parents both played D-3 (Division III) sports. Growing up in Columbus, you are over run with Ohio State this and that. I wanted to get away. The thought of going south to play was exciting to me,” Richardson said. “My parents never pushed Ohio State, Michigan or any Big Ten school on me.”
He didn’t even play football until middle school. Before that, he was a defender in hockey and first baseman-catcher — “I could really hit” — in baseball.
“A bunch of my friends finally talked me into trying out for football in middle school,” he said. “I kind of like that my parents never pressure me into anything. I found out I was not too bad at football and now here I am.”
He says it was his sophomore season when he sensed a college football scholarship was possible.
“I was kind of thrust into the left tackle spot and just loved it,” he said. “I have started every game since my sophomore year. It’s been a real blast. About midway of that sophomore season, I started getting a lot of interest from schools.”
He had never heard from UK until Stoops took over, but likes Neal Brown’s offense because it is like what his high school team uses.
“We run a high tempo, no huddle offense,” the 6-5, 285-pound Richardson said. “I like to attack the defense. We do a lot of conditioning that pays off for us in games.”