By LARRY VAUGHT
Anyone who knows Neal Brown knows that Brown did not lack for confidence as a high school or college player and has kept that same trait during his successful college coaching career.
That’s why it’s no surprise that he has gone right to work trying to convince the state’s best players — who had little interest in UK during the season — to give the Cats a closer look now that Mark Stoops is the head coach and he’s the offensive coordinator.
Apparently four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher of Trinity, one of the state’s top five players and a Southern Cal commit, is listening to Stoops, Brown and new defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot because now plans to visit UK. No guarantee of anything more, but it is a start.
Brown also watched Trinity receiver James Quick, another four-star player the the winner of the Paul Hornung Award as the state’s top player, play basketball Tuesday night and has let him know he could star in UK’s new offense.
Receiver Ryan Timmons of Franklin County, a three-star recruit and scoring machine last season, has heard from Brown, too, and likely will visit UK Saturday. He is also considering Arkansas, Ohio State and Illinois.
Timmons could be a natural in Brown’s offense because Franklin County ran a similar offense and Timmons scored 42 touchdowns rushing and receiving. Franklin County coach Chris Tracy attended a coaching clinic at Centre College two years ago when Brown, then the Texas Tech offensive coordinator, went through his offense and the last two years the Flyers have had one of the state’s top scoring offenses.
Stoops was the coordinator and Eliot the defensive ends coach for a Florida State team that was second in the FBS in total defense. UK has now bolstered its resume further by bringing in Brown to run the offense.
Timmons said that UK has an appeal as an in-state school.
“If that’s where I end up, I hope they do turn things around,” he said. “I know that if I went there, it would be exciting. My mother could be there for me every weekend to watch me play. I’m looking forward to my visit. I can’t wait.”
Timmons plans to pick a college after he takes his January visits. He has no single favorite but is focusing on four schools: Arkansas, where he visited during the season; Illinois, where he visited two weeks ago; Ohio State, where he’ll visit on Jan. 11; and UK, where he plans to visit the week before or after he goes to Columbus.
Trinity also has three more of the state’s top 10 players in cornerback Ryan White, running back Dalyn Dawkins and quarterback Travis Wright. If Stoops and Brown could make inroads at Trinity, annually one of the state’s best teams if not the best, it would be a huge start for revitalizing the Kentucky program.