Ben Roberts

Aug 212014
 
Friday's Lexington Herald-Leader

Friday’s Lexington Herald-Leader

All eyes will be on Madison Southern running back Damien Harris this season.

Not only is Harris the early favorite for Kentucky Mr. Football honors, he’s the No. 1-ranked running back in the country and UK’s top recruiting target for the class of 2015.

Harris also made the cover of the Herald-Leader’s high school preview section, which will be in Friday’s newspaper and includes a feature story on the Madison Southern star as well as a rundown of some of the other top players in the state.

Harris is also getting his own Next Cats page, which will be updated every week with his game-by-game stats and the latest video and information on his recruitment. Check out the Damien Harris page right here, and be sure to pick up a copy of Friday’s paper for more on the UK recruit.

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Aug 212014
 
Tavin Richardson | Photo: Rivals.com

Tavin Richardson | Photo: Rivals.com

One of UK’s top football recruiting targets gets an opportunity to play on the national stage Friday night.

Three-star wide receiver Tavin Richardson and Byrnes High School (S.C.) will face Northwestern (S.C.) in the opening game of the 2014 High School Football Kickoff at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. There will be a total of 10 high school football games on ESPN networks this weekend.

Richardson — a 6-foot-3, 212-pound prospect — recently announced a top five of Kentucky, Louisville, Central Florida, Nebraska and Virginia Tech. He told the Herald-Leader earlier this month that UK is the No. 1 school on his list.

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Aug 192014
 

Highly touted running back Darrin Hall committed to Pittsburgh over Kentucky and Michigan State on Tuesday.

Hall — a four-star prospect in the class of 2015 — was widely expected to pick Pitt after announcing Monday that he had reached a college decision. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 168 overall prospect in the class.

The 5-foot-11 recruit is from Youngstown, Ohio, the hometown of UK Coach Mark Stoops and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow.

UK’s top target at running back remains Madison Southern standout Damien Harris, who is considered the nation’s best player at the position. Harris will announce his college decision Dec. 13 and is also considering Ohio State, Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M.

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Aug 192014
 
Eli Brown

Eli Brown

Rivals.com unveiled its new Rivals 250 rankings Tuesday, and Warren East linebacker Eli Brown remains the only UK commitment on the list.

Brown, a 6-foot-2, 193-pound prospect, is considered the No. 136 overall recruit for the class of 2015. He committed to Kentucky in April and told the Bowling Green Daily News this week that he plans to redshirt during his first season with the Wildcats.

Stanley “Boom” Williams and Drew Barker are the only UK signees under Coach Mark Stoops who have been ranked higher by Rivals.com. Williams (No. 118) and Barker (No. 132) were both in the class of 2014.

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Aug 182014
 

UK football recruiting target Nathan Gilliam announced his commitment to Wake Forest on Monday night.

The three-star offensive lineman from Knoxville, Tenn., had listed Wake Forest, Kentucky and Ole Miss as his favorites in recent days. Ole Miss had not yet offered.

UK became more of a possibility following last week’s decommitment of four-star center Luke Hiers, who did not receive a written scholarship offer from the Wildcats. Kentucky has five solid commitments from offensive linemen in the class of 2015.

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Aug 182014
 
UK quarterback Patrick Towles Photo: Charles Bertram/Herald-Leader

UK quarterback Patrick Towles
Photo: Charles Bertram/Herald-Leader

All of the buzz around UK football Monday was, of course, related to Patrick Towles being named the Wildcats’ starting quarterback.

But it was also the fourth (and final) open practice of the fall.

Some observations:

Towles obviously got a lion’s share of the reps in Monday’s practice. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown estimated that Towles got 90 percent of the time with the first team. UK’s new starting quarterback threw a beautiful pass to Demarco Robinson early in the practice. He hit Robinson in stride running down the sideline while being well defended about 20-25 yards downfield. Towles followed that up with another nice downfield pass to Rashad Cunningham, who also made the catch with a UK defender all over him.

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Aug 182014
 
UK quarterback Drew Barker Photo: Charles Bertram/Herald-Leader

UK quarterback Drew Barker
Photo: Charles Bertram/Herald-Leader

There were a lot of comparisons to Tim Couch during the recruitment of UK quarterback Drew Barker, another nationally known Kentucky high school star who ended up picking the Wildcats.

Monday’s news that Patrick Towles will be UK’s starting quarterback this fall means Barker could redshirt during his first season in Lexington (though Coach Mark Stoops said no decision has been made on that just yet).

Couch was at UK practice Monday, and I asked him what advice he would give Barker for this season. Here’s what he said:

“I would say to just look around the SEC and the success that quarterbacks have had that have redshirted. You look at Johnny Manziel and guys like that. Look at Patrick, who a year ago was in the same situation and redshirted.

“It’s how you handle that year that is really going to determine the rest of your career. If you go to work and say, ‘Here’s what I need to improve on,’ and you just grind and you go to practice every day and you go in the weight room every day with a purpose, I think he can come back next year and be a different player.

“You grow so much from year one to year two in college, not only as a football player but as a person with maturity and those types of things. So I think if he handles it that way – which I think he will, just from knowing him the little bit that I do – I think the sky’s the limit for Drew.”

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Aug 182014
 
Damien Harris

Damien Harris

The updated Rivals 100 for the football class of 2015 was released Monday, and Madison Southern star Damien Harris is still the No. 1-ranked running back in the country.

Harris fell six spots to No. 10 overall, but he remains the top player at his position.

The 5-foot-11 prospect recently narrowed his list of schools to Kentucky, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M. His senior season begins Friday night with a home game against Rockcastle County.

Harris is the only Kentuckian and the only realistic UK recruiting target in the Rivals 100. He will announce his college decision Dec. 13.

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Aug 182014
 
Photo: Jonathan Palmer

Photo: Jonathan Palmer

Former Kentucky quarterback great Tim Couch was at Monday morning’s practice and stuck around to talk about Patrick Towles, who was named the Wildcats’ starting quarterback earlier in the day.

Couch also talked about the past year and a half under Coach Mark Stoops and his thoughts on the program’s recruiting successes in that time period.

He said the Stoops era has “exceeded our expectations,” especially on the recruiting trail.

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Aug 172014
 
Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown

Top UK basketball recruit Jaylen Brown told D1Circuit.com on Saturday that he was leaning toward waiting until after his senior season to make a college decision.

Brown — a 6-foot-7 small forward from Georgia — has told the Herald-Leader and other media outlets over the past few months that he was planning to make a decision sooner rather than later. UK, UCLA, Kansas and Georgia are among the schools at the top of his list.

Scout.com recently moved Brown to the No. 1 overall ranking in the class of 2015 after a stellar showing on the spring and summer circuit. He plays for an Adidas-affiliated team but competed at the Nike Global Challenge last week. D1Circuit.com is the official media partner of the Nike circuit.

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