Baseball, tennis on deck for new facilities

Almost every homeowner has a long list of renovations and repairs to make down the road.

So think of Kentucky’s athletics department as a massive home with lots of gutters to be replaced and bathrooms to be remodeled.

At a recent sit-down with the Herald-Leader, Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart outlined some renovations and remodels that are in the works.

It sounds like a new baseball stadium and indoor tennis complex are next up and sooner rather than later.

“We know exactly where we want to put the baseball stadium,” Barnhart said. “I’m hopeful within the next 3-4 months, we’ll have a solid plan in terms of a timeline to get that out. We’re hopeful. We’ve got some work to do in funding models, but I think we’re pretty close.”

Barnhart noted that aside from track and field, which got new facilities recently, baseball and tennis probably have had to wait the longest of any sports to get major upgrades.

“We’ve sort of band-aided it together for a while,” Barnhart said. “We’ve got to get past that. … I’ve got to give them a plan so they can go out and recruit with that.”

Later down the road, gymnastics likely will get some upgrades to its training area.

Memorial Coliseum could get a facelift, too.

“The scoreboards have been here a long time — which they’ve really outlasted what I thought they would — so we’re going to have to address that,” he said. “The video boards and the score boards, that technology has changed. We’ve gotta do that.

“At some point in time, we’re probably going to have to think about the seating bowl and what we need to do with the wood seats, trying to bring some life and color to it a little bit.”

Every year he receives multiple letters from fans complaining about the old, stained ceiling tiles in the 65-year-old venue that houses women’s basketball, volleyball, gymnastics and other events, but it’s a bigger project than just popping out some tiles.

“It sounds like an easy task, but it will take $1.5 or $2 million to replace ceiling tiles,” Barnhart said.

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Stoops, Barnhart renew call for early signing period

In a matter of days, Kentucky saw nearly a quarter of its 2015 signing class go in a different direction, which left Cats coaches going in 100 different directions.

Places like Auburn and Michigan State swooped in and left what Rivals.com called a “Signing Day bruise” on Mark Stoops and the Cats.

In many late-night phone calls and previously unscheduled trips in the days leading up to National Signing Day, Kentucky was able to recover enough to land the 35th best class in the nation.

But the commitment carousel was enough to make Stoops’ head spin and again call for an early signing period for college football.

“My personal thought is it makes no sense not to,” the Kentucky coach said on Wednesday. “We recruit these guys for over a year, year and a half, two years. Whatever it may be. And if they give us their word and want to come to Kentucky, then give them the scholarship and let them sign it, and that protects both them and you.”

It’s a thought that Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart drove home again two days later, noting that it’s against what many in the Southeastern Conference want, but he believes having an early signing period for college football is necessary.

“There’s two signing periods in almost every other sports out there, maybe with the exception of soccer,” Barnhart told the Herald-Leader on Friday. “Everyone else can sign a couple times a year, windows where you can do something.

“Kids that have made their decisions and don’t want to continue to be called and they’re ready to make a decision to go on, should be able to do that and be done.”

An early signing period was recommended by a national committee in January, suggesting a 72-hour window that would begin the third Wednesday of December, similar to the timeframe for junior college players to sign with schools.

An association made up of the commissioners of the 32 Division I conferences will vote on an early football signing period in June.

It’s not clear how the SEC will vote, though, with Barnhart noting that the push for an early signing period is not big in the conference. He said there are four or five schools in the league that are for it while the rest are not.

“If I’m sitting in some of the schools that are traditionally powerful, I’d like the ability after my bowl game is over to sit here and say, ‘I didn’t get this person, so I’m going to go take that one from this school. That’s the best player they’ve got and I didn’t offer him early on,’” Barnhart said, noting that it’s something Kentucky similarly could do in basketball.

Both the UK coach and AD noted that many schools like the traditional timeline, which allows more time for coaches to meet with prospects on campus once the grind of the season winds down.

“We all are a little bit hesitant about hosting official visits all fall because we’re busy enough with games, and then you take on ‑‑ I don’t know if you do the families justice a lot of times because we don’t have the time to spend with them, and a lot of people are opposed to that,” Stoops said.

But he noted that plenty of players already make visits in season and are accommodated effectively.

To arguments that an early signing period would change the recruiting cycle, Barnhart said: “Well, welcome to the world.

“Just because we’ve done it like this for 25 years, doesn’t mean we have to keep doing it this way for 25 more. It would give some balance to people who have worked hard in recruiting.”

The amount of money and time wasted flying around the country piecing a recruiting class back together in the final days is a waste, both Stoops and Barnhart argued.

“They have our word that I’m going to give them a scholarship, and it would certainly save the university an awful lot of money, and it would save our coaches an awful lot of time,” Stoops said.

And while Barnhart said he was pleased with the end result of this class, saying the staff “closed well,” he wondered what the class might have looked like had players been allowed to sign early.

It’s frustrating for all involved, UK recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow said on Wednesday.

“You know, you do a lot of work for these guys and you hold scholarships,” he said. “When we get commitments, we hold them, and we don’t recruit other people at that position.”

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Updates on stadium, practice facility and more

The renovation schedule around Commonwealth Stadium is about as on schedule as a project of that size and scope ($120 million) can be, Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart told the Herald-Leader on Friday.

“I’m not foolish enough to believe that on the night before the first game there isn’t going to be massive, massive activity in the building,” he said. “There will be. I think they’re doing a lot and working really hard at it and they seem to be in a good spot.”

The AD tours the facility every two weeks or so and said there’s been “significant progress” made.

“It’s exciting to watch it change every day,” he said.

Finishing touches on stadium

Ever built or redecorated a house? There are tons of small design decisions that go into it from fixtures to paint colors. Now imagine redecorating a $120,000 stadium and new turf field with a handful of your closest colleagues.

“We’ve got a lot of little decisions still,” Barnhart said when asked about turf designs and goal-post changes to expect.

UK looked at altering the current collapsible goalposts and potentially changing them to the more old-school “H” look so the team could run through them instead of around them when they enter the field.

For safety reasons, though, the goal posts likely won’t change.

As for turf designs and decorations, those are currently in the hands of head coach Mark Stoops.

“Mark’s having some final looks at what the field will look like,” Barnhart said. “We’ll go through that. I’ve had some looks at it and made some suggestions to it.”

Without giving away any of the final decisions, Barnhart said there is a common thread running throughout the renovations.

“What we’ve come to do in our facilities is a pretty clean look that is a little edgy, that’s got an element of cool to it,” he said. “Hopefully we’ve done that. There’s a bit of a traditional piece to it that I want to keep. I want to incorporate all of those things.”

Practice facility ‘off and running’

There wasn’t a big blue ribbon-cutting ceremony, no pomp and circumstance at all, but construction of Kentucky’s new practice facility has indeed begun.

Barnhart was at a meeting in Indianapolis when Senior Associate Athletics Director Russ Pear sent him a text of a bulldozer with a fence around it and the words: “Here we go.”

“So we’re off and running with that,” Barnhart laughed. The $45 million facility is expected to be finished in early 2016.

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Stoops has successful knee surgery

Coach Mark Stoops had surgery on his knee Thursday morning and it went well, a Kentucky spokesman confirmed.

The UK coach, who announced his 2015 class at signing day Wednesday, is expected to make a full recovery and will be able to coach in spring practices, Tony Neely said.

There is no schedule available for spring practices or which ones will be open to the public. UK announced recently that there will be several open practices because of the lack of a Blue-White scrimmage this spring.

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Stoops waiting for more info on bar fight

Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops confirmed that police in Richmond have questioned three of his players who may have been involved in a bar fight that injured Eastern Kentucky football player Colton Scurry.

No charges have been filed in the incident, but Stoops did confirm after his signing day news conference that the players are quarterback Drew Barker, wide receiver Dorian Baker and defensive lineman Tymere Dubose.

Stoops said no action will be taken until more information is available.

“I’m trying to gather the information,” Stoops said. “I’ve been reading a bunch of reports from what everybody said, and to this point, I don’t know what’s true and what’s not.

“So I just‑‑ I have certain information, and I just need to let the legal process go through its course. Right now nobody’s been charged. I think there’s a lot of people looking into it, and I need to get a little bit more accurate information on that and see where it goes.”

The fight, which occurred at Jerzee’s Cocktail Lounge & Dance Club on Jan. 25, caused a broken nose and facial fractures for Scurry.

Baker, Barker and Dubose have had a previous brush with the law, including a second-degree disorderly conduct for their part in an air-gun incident on UK’s south campus.

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Buh added to Cats’ restructured staff

Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops made it official that he has hired Andy Buh as his outside linebackers coach, replacing Craig Naivar, who left to take a position at Houston.

The addition of Buh, who has been either defensive coordinator or co-defensive coordinator at Stanford, Nevada and California, will be part of a staff restructuring that will include no formal special teams coordinator.

“I was looking for a specific fit for this position,” Stoops said at his signing day news conference. “I wanted someone with defensive coordinator experience who has won on a high level. I’m very pleased with Andy’s level of experience. I believe he’ll be a great asset to our program and defensive staff.”

The special teams duties will be split among members of the staff, including Buh.

Stoops also said that Derrick Ansley will be put in charge of the entire secondary with help from the head coach.

Previously, Ansley was in charge of the cornerbacks and Naivar dealt with the safeties as well as the special teams unit.

Buh (pronounced same as “boo”) coached most recently at California, where he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2013.

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Kentucky football: Class of 2015

FullSizeRenderJosh Allen
6-5, 210 LB from Montclair, N.J. (Montclair)
Explosive prospect led the state of New Jersey in quarterback sacks … A high school defensive end, his athleticism enables him to play linebacker or end in the collegiate ranks … An all-around athlete, playing wide receiver as well … Has been timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash … Had 23 receptions for 425 yards and four touchdowns his senior season at Montclair, including an 80-yard grab … As a defensive end, he had 75 total tackles with 21 tackles for loss plus 22.5 sacks … Also had six passes defended and one fumble recovery … Coached by John Fiore … Played first three years of high school in Alabama before moving back to his hometown his senior season … Helped Montclair claim its third-straight North 1, Group 5 Championship in 2014 … Named All-Super Essex Conference first-team defense in 2014 … Chose Kentucky over Buffalo and Monmouth. Coach Stoops says: “Josh is a rangy athlete with great upside. He is a versatile player, there will be multiple options for him to play within our defense.”

George Asafo-Adjei
6-5, 315 OL from West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West)
Physical offensive line prospect who brings SEC size to the Bluegrass out of Lakota West High School in West Chester, Ohio … Two-year starter on the offensive line and also played some on the defense line … Four-star prospect by 247sports.com and three-star player by Scout.com, Rivals.com and ESPN.com … Scout.com ranks him  the 27th-best offensive guard in the class of 2015 and the second best in the state of Ohio … Rivals.com and 247Sports.com rank him the No. 21 overall prospect in the state of Ohio … Scout.com says he is a “natural bender with the ability to pull and reach his target while keeping balance and getting great explosion from the hips along with his physical size and strength to overpower defenders” … Was a 2014 All-Ohio first-team selection … First-team All-Southwest Ohio in 2013 and 2014 … Also first-team Greater Miami Conference … Participated in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in January 2015 after being named a Semper Fidelis All-American … Named the Anthony Munoz Foundation Offensive Lineman of the Year this past season … Blocking helped guide Lakota West to the Elite 8 of the state playoffs as a senior, the best finish in school history … His pass protection helped the team shatter the school’s single-season passing record in 2014 … Coached by Larry Cox … “George’s success had a direct correlation with his character,” Cox said.  “As great a football player he is, he is an even better human being. He is the hardest worker and strongest player we have had here in this program and that is broad ranging because I have players that have started for Texas, Alabama and Ohio State. He has only been playing football since his freshman season and has just scratched the surface of his potential. The sky is the limit for him and it has been very rewarding for me to see him go from a first-time player his freshman season to a High School All-American” … Asafo-Adjei will rejoin former Lakota West teammates Mikel Horton and Kyle Meadows at UK … Also wrestled in high school one season, winning several varsity meets … Chose Kentucky over Louisville, Florida, Ohio State and Nebraska … Name pronounced “ah-SAH-fo ad-JAY.”
Coach Stoops says: “George is an extremely physical player and has the stature you look for in an offensive lineman. He’s also very athletic for a player his size.”

Derrick Baity
6-3, 180 DB from Tampa, Fla. (H.B. Plant)
First-team all-state as a senior … Three-star prospect by ESPN.com, which ranks him as one of the top 200 players in the talent-rich state of Florida and 83rd-best cornerback in the nation … ESPN.com scouting reports says he “Is a solid run support player. Recognizes run and will set the edge. Is not a vicious tackler but gets the job done. Baity is of very good height for a corner. Sees the game well. Is quick to react to the run and will easily stay in his back pedal when it is pass. Knows how to key through the line into the QB. Baity is a good prospect because of his physical tools” … Florida High School Athletic Association 8A All-State First-Team Defense … Had 66 tackles his senior season with three tackles for loss, four interceptions, which he returned 77 yards, and three fumbles recovered … Had three interceptions, which he returned for 45 yards as a junior with one fumble recovery and 40 tackles … All-around athlete that also played wide receiver and had success his senior season with 33 receptions for 730 yards and six touchdowns, including a season-best 77-yard reception … Chose Kentucky after offers from Indiana, Iowa State, Louisville, Minnesota, South Florida, Syracuse, UCF and Wisconsin … Name pronounced same as “Batey.”
Coach Stoops says: “Because of Derrick’s size and range, he is an extremely versatile defensive back. He comes from a great high school program.”

Kei Beckham
5-11, 170 DB from Trotwood, Ohio (Trotwood-Madison)
First-team all-state player had nine interceptions as a senior, returning five for touchdowns … A three-star prospect by all four major recruiting services … Rivals.com lists him as the 20th-best player in the state of Ohio and the 44th best cornerback  in the nation … Scout.com lists Beckham as the fourth-best safety in the state of Ohio and 81st-best safety in the nation … ESPN.com’s scouting report of Beckham says he “Plays with acceptable strength as he can body position himself vs. WRs. Speed is good as he will close on a receiver quickly. He is athletic enough to be an early contributor” … Added 34 tackles in 2014 with three fumbles forced and two fumbles recovered … Strong senior season led him to Southwest Ohio Division III Defensive Player of the Year honors and was a first team all-state selection … Justin Rowland from Rivals.com said this about Beckham in a scouting report, “Big players make big plays, and the difference between a great corner and a good one is sometimes the difference between an interception and a pass breakup. When Beckham had the opportunity to make a big play he made the best play that could be made, so he rose to the occasion” … Selected as a Fox 45 Top 22, which picks the best 22 seniors prior to the start of the season … Had eight interceptions his junior year with a pick six, 32 tackles and four fumble recoveries … Helped his team to state title his freshman and senior seasons … Picked Kentucky after offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and others … Name is pronounced “kee.”
Coach Stoops says: “Kei has great ball skills. He’s a big-play defensive back, as evidenced by his interceptions and his returns for touchdowns.”

Alvonte Bell
6-5, 260 defensive end from Miramar, Fla. (Everglades/Pearl River CC)
Played two years at Pearl River Community College … Had 16 tackles last season with two sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and one fumble forced … Had 12 tackles his first season in juco, adding two sacks and one tackle for loss.
High School: Explosive defensive end at Everglades High School in Miramar, Fla., where he was coached by Rodney Rumph … The nation’s No. 24 weakside defensive end by Rivals.com … The No. 34 overall defensive end according to Scout.com … “Bell is a raw athlete with speed, length, and quickness that attracts attention his way. He has long arms to get into passing lanes, he can move well in space, and he really pursues the ball well,” according to Scout analyst Chad Simmons … Was timed at 4.88 in the 40 with a 27-inch vertical … Made 40 tackles as a junior, with his 18 total tackles for loss including 11 quarterback sacks … Helped led the team to the Florida Class 6A regional quarterfinals his freshman and sophomore seasons … Missed much of his senior season because of injury … Began high school career as a basketball star before making the move to football … Name is pronounced “al-VON-tay.” Coach Stoops says: “We’re excited to get Alvonte back after signing him two years ago. He has great size and athleticism and is extremely quick off the ball.”

Eli Brown
6-2, 200 LB from Bowling Green (Warren East)
Four-star recruit by all four major recruiting services … Scout.com ranks him the No. 1 outside linebacker in the state of Kentucky and the second-best overall prospect in the state … ESPN.com ranks Brown the 15th best outside linebacker in the nation and No. 244 in the ESPN Top 300 … ESPN.com’s scouting report says, “Brown is an athletic linebacker prospect with a lot of natural ability and upside. He can run, close and hit at an upper-tier level. May not be an immediate impact guy, but his upside is very high” … Picked for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, arguably the most prestigious high school football all-star game … Had a great senior season with 50 tackles, adding 10 tackles for loss, an interception, two pass breakups and one fumble recovery … Also had 50 tackles his junior season with two tackles for loss, two interceptions and a fumble forced … Solid running back for his high school team, rushing 83 times for 687 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014 and 132 times for 1,186 yards and 15 touchdowns his junior season … Caught 14 passes his junior and season seasons combined for 192 yards … Named to The Courier-Journal’s 2014 All-State Football Team … A 2014 Herald-Leader Class of the Commonwealth honoree … 2014 Associated Press All-State first-team selection … Helped his team to the state players all four years of high school, including the state semifinals his sophomore season … Chose Kentucky over Ohio State, Penn State, Louisville, WKU and Vanderbilt.
Coach Stoops says: “Eli is an extremely athletic linebacker – great speed and change of direction. He’s another great Kentucky player we’re proud to have stayed home.”

C.J. Conrad
6-5, 245 TE from LaGrange, Ohio (Keystone)
An athletic and explosive tight end … A four-star prospect by Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247Sports.com … Three-star player by ESPN.com … Considered by all four services to be one of the best tight end prospects in the nation, including ranked seventh by Scout.com, who says he “naturally catches the football well and tracks it and adjusts to passes” … Helped lead his team to a conference championship in 2013, the first for the school since 1971 … In 2014, Keystone went 8-2 and qualified for the Division IV playoffs for the first time in school history … Lettered all four years and on top of playing tight end also played free safety, defensive end and split end his freshman and sophomore seasons … Started varsity midway through his freshman season and ended his career with 180 catches for 2,436 yards, 32 receiving touchdowns and two punt returns for a touchdown … Senior season ended with 55 receptions for 752 yards, 10 receiving touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and one punt return for a TD … Included in those stats was an impressive performance in the school’s first-ever playoff game, making nine catches for 114 yards and one touchdown, adding 12 tackles and two sacks on defense … Had 47 catches for 579 yards and six receiving touchdowns as a junior and 59 catches for 924 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore … On the defensive side, he had 170 career tackles and six interceptions … Participated in the 2014 Columbus Nike Football Training Camp and won the MVP award for the tight ends and receivers group … Earned an invitation to Nike’s exclusive The Opening 2014 … Was awarded the annual Lorain County Golden Helmet Award, which is presented to the county’s top senior football player … Only the second player in school history to earn the award, with the last coming in 1972 … He was named 2014 All-Ohio second team, and the 2014 All-Northeast Lakes District, All-Lorain County and All-Patriot Athletic Conference first teams … Selected as one of only 20 “Buckeye Bluechips” by the Touchdown Club of Columbus … Named the PAC’s Offensive Player of the Year and earned a PAC Scholar-Athlete Award … All-Ohio special mention his junior season and All-Ohio third team his sophomore season … Coached by Rob Clarico, who said, “C.J. is blessed with a lot of physical talent and add on his work ethic and that makes him a very special player. He is a natural leader and really works at that, but also spends time developing his craft. He never misses a workout and put in a lot of extra time to become a better player throughout the year” … A four-year varsity letterman in basketball, helping the team to the conference championship his freshman season and earning several all-county, all-conference and all-district honors … Honor roll student that was named to the scholar-athlete list every season, keeping a 3.5 GPA or higher … Chose Kentucky over Ole Miss, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas and Duke. 
Coach Stoops says: “We’re very pleased to have C.J.  He can be a complete tight end. He has great size and will continue to develop. He’s a good pass catcher who can make plays in space.”

Kengera Daniel
6-5, 250 DE Raleigh, N.C. (Millbrook)
Defensive end prospect only began playing football in high school and shows plenty of potential … Battled injuries in high school that limited his stats but still posted 65 tackles and 19 sacks in 2014 … Had 13 sacks and one interception in limited time in 2013 … A three-star recruit by all four major recruiting databases … Scout.com ranks him the fourth-best defensive end prospect in the state of North Carolina, while Rivals.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com all rank him a top-25 player in the state of North Carolina … Versatile athlete played defensive end, linebacker, tight end and fullback in high school … Two-year letterman who helped his team break the school’s single-season sack record in 2014 … Guided Millbrook to finish second in the conference and advance to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs … Best career game came against Heritage High School when he had 12 solo tackles, including five tackles for loss and two sacks … The Fayetteville Observer named him the No. 16 best recruit in August 2014, saying “Daniel is a pure speed rusher who comes off the edge like a rocket … and once he gets his big hands on a ballcarrier, they’re going nowhere but to the ground” … High school head coach Clarence Inscore said, “First off, he is the ultimate team player and did everything that we ever asked of him, as you can tell by him playing defensive end, linebacker, tight end and fullback. He played defensive end mainly last year but we did put him in at tight end some and he caught a touchdown pass, which shows you how athletic he is. I think his best football is in front of him because he has only been playing football for three years and he is improving every day” … All-around athlete also lettered two years in basketball at center/power forward … Honor-roll student … Was very active outside of athletics, working with an outreach club in high school that spent time over at a local middle school tutoring … Chose Kentucky over Louisville, NC State, Virginia and Alabama … Name pronounced “ken-JAIR-uh.” Coach Stoops says: “Kengera has great physical presence, with length and speed. He is extremely disruptive as he has the ability to create negative-yardage plays.”

Therrell Gosier
6-6, 210 WR from Pompano Beach, Fla. (Blanche Ely)
Three-star wide receiver by ESPN.com who is one of the top 200 players in the talent-rich state of Florida and the 165th-best wide receiver in the nation … ESPN.com’s scouting report says he, “possesses outstanding overall measurables. Long arms and legs. Possesses a wide catch radius on a frame that is capable of carrying more bulk. Is a galloping strider that builds to top end speed. Is a big, rangy athlete” … Scout.com ranks him the 16th-best wide receiver in the state of Florida and 75th-best wide receiver in the 2015 class … Fine athlete also is a star for his high school basketball team … No. 33 in The Sun Sentinel’s Top 50 seniors … Named on watch list for The Opening 2014 … Chose Kentucky over offers from Clemson, Marshall, Miami (Fla.), Nebraska, South Florida, Syracuse and West Virginia … Name pronounced “ther-RELL go-SEER.”
Coach Stoops says: “Therrell can be an impact player – a big-time talent with size, speed and big-play ability.”

Jabari Greenwood
6-3, 195 WR Washington, D.C. (Gonzaga)
A three-star wide receiver prospect with great size … Scout.com ranks him the top wide receiver in the Washington, D.C. area and the No. 7 overall player in the area … Rivals.com ranks him the fourth-best player in the D.C. area and the 51st-best wide receiver in the nation … ESPN.com’s scouting report says, “He is tall and long with some functional strength and brings physicality to the game. There’s a lot to like about Greenwood. He makes plays when the ball comes his way” … Led high school in receiving each of his final three seasons … Had 50 receptions his senior year for 754 yards and nine touchdowns … Named All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference second team as a senior … A 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl nominee … Was named the team’s Outstanding Offense Player of the Week in the team’s 49-21 victory over Bishop O’Connell last season … Had 30 catches for 487 yards and four touchdowns his junior season and 31 catches for 437 yards and four touchdowns his sophomore season … Earned second-team All-WCAC honors as a junior and third-team honors as a sophomore … Picked Kentucky over Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Iowa, Maryland, Pittsburgh and others. Coach Stoops says: “With his size and physicality, he can be the presence you’re looking for as an inside receiver. He has big-play capability in the pass game as well.”

Greg Hart
6-5, 240 TE transfer from Dayton, Ohio (Archbishop Alter)
At Nebraska: Played in nine game in 2014, mostly on special teams … Redshirted his first year with the Huskers … Named to Tom Osborne Citizenship Team in 2014 and Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014 … Coached by Bo Pelini … Active in the community, volunteered his time with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Uplifting Athletes, Husker Heroes, Husker Hotline and several local hospitals, elementary school and community rec centers while at Nebraska.
High School: Was a standout two-way player at Archbishop Alter High School in Dayton … Behind his efforts, Archbishop Alter posted an 8-2-1 record in 2012 and reached the first round of the state playoffs … Ended his senior season with better than 30 receptions for approximately 300 yards and three touchdowns … All-around athlete who also played defensive end and had better than 60 tackles, including a league-leading 10 sacks and an interception … Earned conference defensive lineman of the year honors and was a Division III All-Ohio choice … Impressive junior season, helping the team to a 10-1 record … Alter ended regular season with a perfect record in 2011 before losing in the first round of the state playoffs … Coached by Ed Domsitz … Coming out of high school, he was regarded as one of the top 30 tight end prospects in the country and one of the top 40 overall prospects in the state of Ohio. Coach Stoops says: “Greg has the size and toughness needed to play tight end. He also brings some good experience from his two seasons at Nebraska.”

Will Jackson
6-3, 200 DB from Washington, D.C. (St. John’s College High)
Combination athlete in high school, playing cornerback and wide receiver … 247Sports.com lists him as an athlete and ranks him the 16th-best prospect in Washington D.C. … Named first-team Washington Catholic Athletic Conference as a defensive back in 2014 … Had 30 catches for 500 yards as a sophomore … Chose Kentucky over offers from Western Michigan, Connecticut, Nevada, North Carolina State, Old Dominion and Toledo. Coach Stoops says: “Will is a long, rangy corner, physical with great footwork. Having also played receiver in high school, he has good ball skills. It’s exciting to have this kind of size in the secondary.”

Jordan Jones
6-2, 215, LB from Youngstown, Ohio (Cardinal Mooney)
A four-star prospect by Scout.com and three-star recruit by 247Sports.com, ESPN.com and Rivals.com … A top-20 player in the state of Ohio by 247Sports.com and ESPN … Ranked as one of the top 40 best outside linebackers in the class by all four databases …  Strong senior season with 185 tackles, including 10 sacks, five fumbles forced and four fumbles recovered … Also had a great junior season with 123 tackles, 10 sacks, five fumbles forced, three fumbles returned for touchdowns and 27 tackles for loss … Was named to Big 22 Class of 2014, which honors the best 22 players in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania … Named first-team All-Ohio Division IV as a junior and senior … Was 2014 Division IV Defensive Player of the Year … Started at linebacker and tailback in his two years at Cardinal Mooney … Head coach was P.J. Fecko … High school defensive coordinator Chris Amill said, “Jordan is a hard worker, probably the hardest worker that we have had come through Mooney. His explosiveness is really what stands out to me. He can move from sideline to sideline with ease and can gain on you in the blink of an eye, which should really help him at the next level. He is a special player because even if he does make a little mistake, his athletic ability, speed, quickness, explosiveness and relentlessness will make up for it” … Played his freshman and sophomore seasons at Reynoldsburg HS in Columbus, Ohio, starting at running back both years … Also ran track two years at Reynoldsburg, competing in the 100- and 400-meter dashes … Played three years of basketball as a power forward … Picked Kentucky after considering Miami (Fla.), Michigan State and Oklahoma. Coach Stoops says: “Being from Cardinal Mooney (Coach Stoops’ high school), Jordan is a player I’ve watched grow up. He has the size and speed you’re looking for in a linebacker.”

Sihiem King
5-9, 185 RB Colquitt, Ga. (Colquitt County)
Swift running back was the Georgia Offensive Player of the Year as selected by the Georgia Sports Writers Association … A three-star prospect by Rivals.com and ESPN.com … ESPN.com’s scouting report says,”(King) is an elusive threat at the RB position with quickness and speed. Goes from 0-to-60 in a hurry. Quick to get into second level and utilize his big-play speed. Displays powerful balance slipping arm tackles. King is a speedy all-purpose back with hybrid slot/RB skill set that could be ultra-productive in a spread offense. Best asset is his versatility and ability to motion out in the slot and produce in the passing game” … ESPN.com ranks him the 74th best running back nationally and one of the top 100 prospects in Georgia … Impressive senior stats featured 279 rushes for 2,090 yards in 15 games, scoring 37 TDs and totaling 11 100-yard rushing performances … Averaged 139.3 yards per game while leading Colquitt HS to the Class AAAAAA state championship … Rushed for 1,439 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior … Three-year career stats feature 601 carries for 3,781 yards and 55 TDs … Has an ability to be a threat in the passing game, totaling 94 catches for 796 yards and four TDs … Played on defense as a freshman … Coached by Rush Propst … Chose Kentucky over West Virginia, Wake Forest, Washington State and Middle Tennessee … Name pronounced “sah-HEEM.”
Coach Stoops says: “Sihiem is an explosive running back who can make plays in space and as a receiver, leading his team to a Georgia state championship and being named the state offensive player of the year.”

Levon Livingston
6-7, 250 OL from Washington, D.C. (Ballou)
Three-star offensive line prospect by all four major recruiting services that played some defensive end as well … Scout.com ranks him the No. 1 offensive tackle in the Washington D.C. area … Rivals.com ranks him the ninth-best prospect in Washington D.C. area … ESPN.com scouting report says, “flashes good pull/trap ability and if can maintain mobility as he add size, can possess good range as run blocker” … A 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl nominee … Had a great junior season with 19.5 sacks on defense and helped the Ballou offense rush for over 1,300 yards and advance to the state playoffs … Strong junior season led to him being named second-team All-Metropolitan Area by The Washington Post … Invited to compete in the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio in January 2014 … Also named second-team All-Met after his senior season … Picked Kentucky over offers from Charlotte, North Carolina State and West Virginia … Name pronounced “luh-VON.” Coach Stoops says:”Levon has great size and length who will fill out physically. He’s also athletic, with great footwork.”

Courtney Love
6-2, 245 LB transfer from Youngstown, Ohio (Cardinal Mooney)
At Nebraska: 
Played in 12 games in 2014 with six total tackles, including one tackle for loss … Sat out the 2013 season as a redshirt … Was a standout on the practice field and earned Scout Team Defensive MVP honors that season … Coached by Bo Pelini … Also earned a 2014 Nebraska Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award and named to the Tom Osborne Citizenship Team … Was active in the community, volunteering his time with Uplifting Athletes, Husker Heroes, Make-A-Wish, Husker Hotline, and local hospital and community rec center outreach events.
High School: A two-time All-Ohio selection at Cardinal Mooney High School who posted impressive numbers as a senior, registering 110 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and nine sacks … Also forced four fumbles and had two pass breakups, despite missing one game because of injury … Was honored for his efforts as a first-team Division III All-Ohio selection for the second straight year … Played a key role in Cardinal Mooney winning the Division III state title his junior season, recording 130 tackles with seven sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery … Was Mooney’s leading tackler in the state title game victory over Springfield Shawnee … Strong junior season in 20111 led to first-team All-Ohio honors and Division III Co-Defensive Player-of-the-Year recognition … Was regarded as one of the nation’s top 30 linebackers by multiple recruiting services and was listed among the top 30 overall prospects in the state of Ohio … Coached by P.J. Fecko … Initially chose Nebraska over Florida State, Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Illinois and Indiana … Rejoins former high school teammate Marcus McWilson at UK.
Coach Stoops says: “Like Jordan Jones, Courtney is a player I’ve watched grow up and we welcome him to our program. He has the size and physical presence to be an inside linebacker.”

Javone Provitt
6-3, 305 DT from Warren, Ohio (Warren G. Harding)
A three-star defensive line prospect by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … ESPN.com ranks him he 37th-best prospect in the state of Ohio and the 61st-best defensive tackle in the nation … ESPN.com scouting report says, “Provitt possesses very good size at this stage with a build that can support additional good mass with time in a college weight program and allow him to play comfortable in the 300-pound range. Displays very good playing strength. Flashes a good initial burst.” … Helped a pass rush that only allowed 111.1 passing yards per game and only 24.6 points per game in 2014 … Named to the 2014 Ohio High School Football Players Watch List … Picked Kentucky over Cincinnati, Purdue and Toledo … Name is pronounced “jah-VON PROl-vit.” Coach Stoops says: “Javone is a big, powerful defensive lineman who is also explosive. With his quick first step, he could be extremely disruptive.”

Courtney Miggins
6-5, 285 DT from Lithonia, Ga. (Miller Grove/Pearl River CC)
Strong junior college prospect that originally signed with Louisiana Lafayette out of high school … Was a three-star recruit by ESPN.com out of high school before going to junior college … Had nine tackles his freshman season at Pearl River and four tackles last season with two pass breakups … First team all-region selection as a senior at Miller Grove High, playing for coach Damien Wimes … Had 36 tackles with four sacks and 13 TFL as a senior … Registered 40 tackles with eight quarterback sacks and 10 TFL as a junior to earn a spot in the RisingSeniors.com Junior Bowl … Among JUCO players, 247Sports.com ranks him 44th overall and the eight-best defensive tackle … Chose Kentucky over N.C. State and Mississippi State.
Coach Stoops says: Courtney is an impact defensive lineman out of the junior college ranks. He has great size and quickness off the ball, the skills to come in and compete at a high level.

Tavin Richardson
6-3, 218 TE from Duncan, S.C. (Byrnes)
Three-star recruit …  ESPN.com ranks him the 12th-best player in the state of South Carolina and 72nd-best wide receiver in the 2015 class … ESPN.com scouting report says he, “possesses height, length and bulk. Is athletics and rangy with good overall flexibility and body control given his size. Possesses really good, strong hands. Secures the football with purpose. Can contort his body and adjust to poorly thrown balls. Catches the ball with his hands extended away from his frame, but will cradle and use his frame to secure the ball in traffic if necessary” … Rivals.com ranks him the ninth-best player in South Carolina and 20th-best tight end in the 2015 class … Played in the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas … Had 43 receptions his senior season for 457 yards and five touchdowns … Returned kicks in high school, including 21 kick returns for 457 yards his senior season and 10 returns his junior season for 836 yards … Strong junior season with 63 receptions for 836 yards and eight touchdowns … Had 600 receiving yards as a sophomore with four touchdowns …  No. 17 on High School Sports Report Top 100 Rising Senior List … All-Region II-4A selection … Named second-team All-Area … Was named to the High School Sports Report All-Rookie Team in 2012 … Chose Kentucky over offers from Central Florida, Arkansas, Florida, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Mississippi State and Ole Miss … Name pronounced “TAY-vin.” Coach Stoops says: “Tavin is a big, strong wide receiver with great hands. He also excels at getting yards after the catch.”

Logan Stenberg
6-6, 330 OL from Madison, Ala. (James Clemens)
A three-star offensive line prospect by all four major recruiting services … Scout.com ranks him the second-best offensive tackle in the state of Alabama … ESPN.com lists Stenberg as the 42nd-best prospect in the state of Alabama and the 134th-best offensive tackle in the nation … ESPN.com’s scouting report says, “massive o-line prospect with very good height and a lot of bulk packed on his frame. Displays very good playing strength. Has size and strength to engulf and maul defenders at times and will try to deliver a blow and as well as finish at times” … Behind his strong blocking his high school team rushed for nearly 2,000 yards last season while totaling over 3,300 yards of total offense … Named second-team all-state in 2014 by Alabama Sports Writers Association … Cleared the way for his running back to rush for over 1,300 yards in 2014 and earn first-team all-state honors by the Alabama Sports Writers Association … Played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game in 2014 and impressed there  … Chose Kentucky over offers from Southern Miss and Troy.
Coach Stoops says: “Logan has the size you look for, a physical offensive lineman who is also very athletic. He’s a big presence.”

Marcus Walker
6-1, 190, DB from Lake Wales, Fla. (Lake Wales)
A four-star recruit by ESPN.com that ranks him the 214th-best prospect in their Top 300 … ESPN.com ranks him the 39th-best player in the talent-rich state of Florida and the 15th-best safety in the class of 2015 … ESPN.com scouting report says, “Tall, athletic safety with very good height, length and a strong build. Plays with great functional strength and should continue to fill out well and develop. Runs well; closes fast and displays very good range. Speed and movements are somewhat straight-line but faster than his testing times indicate. Has good play speed” … Rivals.com Justin Rowland says, “Explosive, ball hawk, physical. Describe him however you want. Walker can play. From an athletic and skills standpoint Walker is one of the best safeties Kentucky has had in the modern era. He’s the definition of Florida speed,” … A Bright House Sports Network Top 20 football player in the Tampa Bay area at No. 17 … Missed some of his senior season with an injury but returned and helped Lake Wales to the regional quarterfinals … Had five interceptions his junior season … Saw a lot of time as a kick returner and did well with nearly 600 all-purpose yards his junior season … Named second-team all-state by Herald-Tribune …  Picked Kentucky after offers from Tennessee, Arkansas, Michigan State, Florida, Ole Miss, UCLA, Mississippi State and many others.  Coach Stoops says: “Marcus is extremely talented. He’s a prototypical safety,  great instincts, ball skills and a good tackler.”

Chris Westry
6-4, 180 DB from Orange Park, Fla. (Oakland)
Three-star recruit by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247Sports.com and ESPN.com … Evaluated as a safety in high school, he also could play cornerback in college … Scout.com ranks him the 17th-best safety in the state of Florida … ESPN.com ranks him the 55th-best safety in the nation … ESPN.com’s scouting report says, “Westry has very good size for a DB. He is what the power conference schools look for in a DB. Long in body and arms. Plays with good strength as he continually defeats stack blocks to make the tackle. His top end speed is very good. Westry is the kind of player the big time power conference schools like” … Had 34 total tackles his senior season with one interception and 12 passes defended … Blocked two field goals his senior season … Named Times-Union’s 2014 All-First Coast honorable mention … A Super 24 selection  … Picked Kentucky over offers from Auburn, Florida, South Florida, UCF, FIU, Ohio and Charlotte. Coach Stoops says: “Chris has exceptional size for a cornerback and good footwork. He has the potential to develop into a shutdown corner.”

Mason Wolfe
6-6, 325 OL from Henderson (Henderson County)
A three-star prospect by Rivals.com, Scout.com, 247sports.com and ESPN.com … Helped his team to the state playoffs all four years of high school, including the quarterfinals his freshman season … Scout.com ranks him the No. 1 offensive tackle in the state of Kentucky and sixth-best overall player in the state … Rivals.com ranks him the fifth-best player in the state … ESPN.com scouting report on Wolfe says, “good height and bulk at this stage with room to rework body comp some and still add good mass to frame” … His blocking helped Henderson County rush for 1,592 yards his senior season with 23 rushing touchdowns … Helped the Colonels rush for 1,863 yards his junior season and 26 rushing touchdowns … Named first-team all-state by The Associated Pressin 2014 …  Named to The Courier-Journal’s 2014 All-State Football Team … A 2014 Herald-Leader Class of the Commonwealth honoree … Picked Kentucky over California, Louisville, Missouri and Purdue. Coach Stoops says: “We’re happy to have Mason, a great in-state player. With his size and length, he has tremendous upside.”

 

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Another UK Super Bowl ad: Why not?

If history holds, you might want to hold off on that run to the kitchen for bean dip during the break between the second quarter and the halftime show of the Super Bowl.

That’s where the local Kentucky football ad has run each of the last two seasons. And while officials wouldn’t confirm when one will run during the Super Bowl this year, they did confirm an ad was in the works.

It’s an important time to talk to fans about football, UK assistant athletic director for marketing and licensing Nathan Schwake said.

“It’s a unique opportunity for us to push the season ticket message at the end of January or early February,” he said of the spots, which cost roughly $10,000. “We try to make a statement and take advantage of the highest profile TV night of the year.”

The spots also do well on social media, including the last two combining to garner nearly 250,000 views on You Tube.

Two years ago it was the Air Raid sirens set in a stormy Commonwealth Stadium with clips from Stoops’ introductory news conference.

Last year, it was clips of star players and potential future stars and Stoops reminding: “Why here? Why Kentucky? I said, ‘Why not?’ It can be done here. It will get done here.”

Schwake didn’t offer any hints about this season’s ad, though. “Just watch and see.”

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More on Kentucky’s early enrollees

Kentucky formally announced its four early enrollees and two transfers on Wednesday.

All six of them will be eligible to participate in practice and will count toward the final 2015 signing class numbers.

Nebraska transfers tight end Greg Hart and linebacker Courtney Love are among the early enrollees.

The true freshmen on campus early include offensive lineman George Asafo-Adjei from West Chester, Ohio, a three-star prospect, who was rated the No. 21 overall prospect in the state of Ohio.

“George is an extremely physical player and has the stature you look for in an offensive lineman,” Coach Mark Stoops said of the 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive lineman in a release.

C.J. Conrad, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound freshman from LaGrange, Ohio, was rated a four-star prospect by Scout, Rivals and 247Sports and chose UK over Ole Miss, Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas and Duke.

“He can be a complete tight end; he has great size and will continue to develop,” Stoops said of the tight end, who finished his career with 180 catches for 2,436 yards, 32 receiving touchdowns and two punts returned for a touchdown. “He’s a good pass catcher who can make plays in space.”

Kengera Daniel, a 6-5, 250-pound defensive end from Raleigh, N.C., was rated among the top 25 players in the state of North Carolina despite only starting football in high school and being sidelined by injuries. He picked UK over Louisville, N.C. State, Virginia and Alabama.

“Kengera has great physical presence, with length and speed,” Stoops said in a release. “He is extremely disruptive as he has the ability to create negative-yardage plays.”

Kentucky also got two linebackers, a position of need for the Cats as of late, in Jordan Jones and Hart, the Nebraska transfer. Jones, a 6-2, 215-pound player from Stoops’ alma mater Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, Ohio, was considered a four-star prospect by every major service.

Jones, who picked UK over Miami (Fla.), Michigan State and Oklahoma, finished his senior season with 185 tackles, 10 sacks and five forced fumbles.

Love, the linebacker transfer from Nebraska also is from Cardinal Mooney. He played in 12 games for the Cornhuskers in 2014 with six tackles, including one for a loss. As a senior in high school, he had 110 tackles, 19 for a loss, and nine sacks.

In his news release quote, Stoops noted that Love’s size and skill set to be an inside linebacker at UK.

While at Nebraska, Hart played in nine games, mostly on special teams. Coming out of high school in Dayton, Hart was among the top 30 tight end prospects in the country and one of the top 40 players out of Ohio.

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Kentucky will not host a Blue-White Spring Game

Those hoping to see what a Kentucky offense under new coordinator Shannon Dawson will look like or a Kentucky defense without its star defensive ends will have to wait until September.

Construction at Commonwealth Stadium is going to keep UK from having its annual Blue-White spring game this April, a team spokesman told the Herald-Leader on Friday afternoon.

The school looked at multiple off-campus venue options as the school finishes up a $120 million renovation project at Commonwealth Stadium, but several factors made those unfeasible, UK’s Tony Neely said.

Playing host to a game away from the university raises several issues, including the potential of coaches and players to interact with prospective student athletes and their families, which is an NCAA violation.

“We looked at it altogether and it didn’t add up for us to play a spring game this year,” he said.

It’s at least the first time since 1995 that UK will not play a scrimmage to wrap up spring practices, but Neely wasn’t sure if it’s the only time in school history.

The school is working out a schedule still for spring practices and Neely anticipated that there will be several open practice opportunities for fans that will be announced at a later date.

Cancelling a spring game is not unprecedented. While Kyle Field has been under construction, Texas A&M went without a spring game in 2014 and will again this spring.

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