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By LARRY VAUGHT
During his 18 days practicing and playing with Team USA in the Under 19 World Championships in Austin, Texas, University of Kentucky commit Jacob Hyde of Clay County did his best to share all the good news he could about the Wildcats.
“We had a lot of good players on our team. It was surprising how much talent there was surrounding me,” said Hyde, a defensive lineman and UK’s only in-state commitment in the 2013 recruiting class. “I talked all I could about the university. Most guys were interested in what I had to say about UK. I was trying to do all the recruiting I could.”
Team USA beat Samoa 27-6 in its first game and routed Austria 70-7 in the semifinals before falling 23-17 to Canada in the championship game.
“Jacob had his best game and totally controlled the middle of the defensive line. It was a great honor for him to represent Team USA and the quality of coaching was outstanding,” family friend Jeff Garrison said. “All of their daily meetings were in the suites of the UT (University of Texas) football stadium. He will be a much better player and person for the 18 days he spent in Austin. Meeting all these teammates from all over the U.S. and the other players from all over the world has given him a new perspective.”
Hyde said he met a lot of new friends and created new, family-type relationships, including some with players bound for other SEC schools.
“I just told them all I would see them in the years ahead and to look out for Kentucky,” Hyde, who roomed with Notre Dame commit Hunter Bivin of Owensboro Apollo, said.
Hyde was one of the players picked for the team who did not have to try out. He was so impressive during a ESPN camp in Charlotte that all he had to do was pass an interview with the Team USA coaching staff to secure his spot on the team.
“I guess I was just one of the lucky ones to get picked,” Hyde said Sunday night after returning to Manchester in time to start preseason practice Monday. “Hopefully being on the team will get me more respect than anything. I am not worried about recognition, just respect. I am satisified with where I am going to school, but it was a great honor to be on this team and be just one of two players from Kentucky on the team.”
There were also teams from France, Sweden and Japan playing in Texas.
“I learned a lot about how other countries play ball and their style,” Hyde said. “The other teams were a little bit slower than mosst American teams, but they get the concepts of the game. I had good games. I learned a little bit from each of our coaches. Just being part of this will make me a better player in the long run and also a better person because of all the people I was exposed to.”
Hyde is active at Manchester Baptist Church and helps with God’s Closet, a clothing ministry.
“I just love helping the community and helping people in need. I guess I am just a kind-hearted guy,” Hyde said. “I have always been active in the church like that. I have got to give a little back of what the good Lord gave me. Doing that kind of stuff helps keep you level headed. You see some people come through there and that lets you know you are blessed with what you have got every day.”
Hyde knows he’ll have to show he’s “blessed” on the field this season after making his early verbal commitment to coach Joker Phillips and Kentucky.
“I know I have to be a better leader on and off the field and be a better player,” Hyde said. “I know more is expected of me, but that does not bother me too much. If anything, I kind of like it.”
He also feels confident that his future team is going to have a better 2012 season than many expect.
“I keep up with other recurits and it looks like we are going to be okay,” Hyde said. “I really think Kentucky is going to shock a lot of people this year. I am going to be there a lot to watch them play and I think they are really going to suprise people with how good they are.”