Brown: Wide receivers healing nicely

The Kentucky wide receivers were a battered, banged up group by the end of spring practice, but they seem to be healing well and most of them will be available come the start of fall camp, offensive coordinator Neal Brown told the Herald-Leader on Monday morning.

Jeff Badet, who broke his fibula in what coaches called a freak accident where he clipped his own foot running routes this spring, is back and has been cleared to run straight lines.

“We feel good about him going in,” Brown said of Badet, who had had 22 catches for 285 yards and a touchdown.

Fellow sophomore wide receiver Alexander Montgomery, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in late October, is still a question mark.

“He’s nine months post op now,” Brown said. “He’ll be released, but mentally where he’ll be, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Montgomery played in eight games before his season-ending injury. He had 16 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns.

Javess Blue, who had shoulder surgery this off-season, has completely recovered and Brown is expecting  big things from the junior college wide receiver who led the Cats with 43 catches for 586 yards and four touchdowns.

“He’s set up to have a really good season,” Brown said. “If you look at junior college guys, for whatever reason, they always have a better second year. That’s really been the case here with wide outs like Stevie Johnson and (Chris) Matthews. I think (Blue) is going to have that type of second year.”

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Eliot’s newest addition will come on cusp of opener

Fall is going to be a little more hectic and even more sleep deprived for Kentucky defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot.

Eliot and his wife, Miekel, are expecting their fourth child, another girl, on Aug. 25, the Monday before UK’s season opener against Tennessee-Martin at Commonwealth Stadium.

When asked how he was going to manage all of the madness before the start of the season, he laughed.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m just rolling with the punches.”

The Eliots already have a son Dawson and daughters Drue and Page.

When asked about the timing of the newest addition, Eliot smiled.

“I’ve learned in my life you can’t control a lot of things,” he said.

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Linebacker Simpson will miss senior season

The announcement that senior linebacker Miles Simpson will not play this season makes Kentucky even thinner at an already lean position

A nagging hip injury will end the backup linebacker’s career, UK confirmed Monday morning.

“It’s disappointing,” UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot told the Herald-Leader. “He’s a great leader and a great player and I was looking forward to working with him and I thought he had a bright future here, but he isn’t going to be able to play next year. Just part of the game.”

The former Simon Kenton star played in 12 games last season and had 11 tackles, mostly on special teams. The injury kept him from practicing this spring. He’s opted to not play and will graduate in December, team spokesman Tony Neely said.

His sophomore season, Simpson was a defensive star, starting 11 games at a hybrid linebacker/safety spot. He was third on the team in tackles with 70, including 12 versus South Carolina.

Kentucky returns four linebackers with game experience from last year in Khalid Henderson (51 tackles last season), TraVaughn Paschal (39 tackles) and Josh Forrest (16 tackles) as well as backup Tyler Brause, who mostly played on special teams.

To add some depth, UK is moving junior Daron Blaylock to the linebacker position fulltime, Eliot said.

The Cats’ newcomers — freshmen Kobie Walker, Dorian Hendrix Nico Firios and junior college transfer Ryan Flannigan — will have to get up to speed quickly.

Flannigan, the most likely candidate to fill departing star Avery Williamson’s spot at middle linebacker is expected to arrive in time for training camp, Eliot said.

As it did last year, UK’s defense is going to have to work with the best available players.

“We’re trying to mix and match and get the best 11 on the field,” Eliot said. “Avery was the only experienced backer we had last year, so we knew what he could do, but we’ve really gotta fill a void there and develop some guys into being good players at those positions.”

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Dupree on yet another watch list

Kentucky senior Bud Dupree is becoming a regular on defensive player of the year watch lists, with his name popping up for the second time this week on one.

This time it’s the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List for college football’s defensive player of the year.

He was put on the Chuck Bednarik Award Preseason Watch List earlier this week. Dupree is one of 81 defensive players on the Nagurski list and one of 23 defensive ends.

Dupree is the Cats’ returning leading tackler with 61, including 9.5 for loss. The senior also had seven sacks.

The five finalists for the award will be named Nov. 20 with the trophy presentation on Dec. 8 in Charlotte.

 

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SEC Media Days roster

Here is the full list of participants for each school at the 2014 SEC Media Days next week. Interesting to me that less than half of the schools are bringing their quarterback. It was the en vogue position last season with stars like Johnny Maziel, Aaron Murray and AJ McCarron.

The six quarterbacks attending this season are Auburn’s Nick Marshall, Florida’s Jeff Driskel, Ole Miss’s Bo Wallace, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Missouri’s Maty Mauk and South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson.

  • Alabama: Landon Collins, safety; Amari Cooper, wide receiver; Christion Jones, wide receiver
  • Arkansas:
 Brey Cook, offensive guard; Trey Flowers, defensive end; Alan Turner, safety
  • Auburn: Nick Marshall, quarterback; Reese Dismukes, center; Gabe Wright, defensive lineman
  • Florida: Jeff Driskel, quarterback; Dante Fowler, defensive end; Vernon Hargreaves III, cornerback
  • Georgia: Chris Conley, flanker; Todd Gurley, tailback; Ramik Wilson, linebacker
  • Kentucky: Bud Dupree, defensive end; Jordan Swindle, offensive tackle; Za’Darius Smith, defensive end
  • Louisiana State:La’el Collins, offensive tackle; Terrence Magee, running back; D.J. Welter, linebacker
  • Ole Miss:
 CJ Johnson, defensive end; Cody Prewitt, safety; Bo Wallace, quarterback
  • Mississippi State:Jay Hughes, safety;
 Benardrick McKinney, linebacker; Dak Prescott, quarterback
  • Missouri: Evan Boehm, center; Markus Golden, defensive end; Maty Mauk, quarterback
  • South Carolina: A.J. Cann, offensive guard; J.T. Surratt, defensive tackle; Dylan Thompson, quarterback
  • Tennessee:
 Mack Crowder, offensive line;
 AJ Johnson, linebacker;
 Curt Maggitt, defensive end
  • Texas A&M:
Deshazor Everett, defensive back; Drew Kaser, punter; Cedric Ogbuehi, offensive tackle
  • Vanderbilt:
Adam Butler, defensive line;
 Steven Scheu, tight end;
 Andrew Williamson, safety
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Dupree, Za’Darius Smith, Swindle to represent UK at Media Days

The Southeastern Conference announced its annual list of players who will be a part of the circus that is the annual league Media Days from each school.

Representing UK this season alongside Coach Mark Stoops next Thursday afternoon will be senior defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith as well as offensive lineman Jordan Swindle.

Dupree and Smith are two of UK’s top three returning tackles, combining for 120 tackles (16 for loss) as well as 13 sacks.

Last season, Kentucky’s caravan included linebacker Avery Williamson, running back Raymond Sanders and defensive tackle Donte Rumph.

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Updates on UK season ticket sales

Kentucky made a big push for fans to buy football season tickets by June 30 to increase their K-Fund points and improve their chances of getting select seats at the re-seated Commonwealth Stadium in 2015.

As of July 7, that push has yielded 38,024 season tickets sold, according to a school spokesman.

For comparison’s sake, UK reported it had sold 37,901 season tickets in early June of last season.  Also, in 2012, the final season of Joker Phillips, Kentucky had 38,655 season ticket holders in all.

There is usually a late surge of season ticket purchasers, including students once they return to campus in early August.

Before the season opener last season, UK athletics department spokesman DeWayne Peevy told the Herald-Leader that UK had 47,426 season tickets out, which included student tickets as well as comps.

Tickets can be purchased at ukfootballtix.com or by calling the ticket office at (800) 928-2287.

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Cats’ guarantee games top $2 million mark

Finding three opponents willing to come to Commonwealth Stadium and play against Kentucky has become more costly as of late.

The Cats’ three non-conference home games against Tennessee-Martin, Louisiana-Monroe and Ohio University, will cost more than $2 million this season, according to the contracts obtained by the Herald-Leader.

The highest price tag game for Kentucky this season is the $1 million payout to Louisiana Monroe after the Warkhawks take on UK on Oct. 11.

For perspective, it cost UK $1 million combined to play Miami (Ohio) and Alabama State last season in the so-called “guarantee games.”

The Western Kentucky series, part of a four-game contract, was a split-ticket deal last year in Nashville with 42 percent going to the Hilltoppers, 30 percent to UK and 28 percent to the Nashville Sports Council. When WKU came to Commonwealth Stadium the year before, it was a flat $500,000 payout from UK.

Here is the breakdown of the three guarantee games for Kentucky this season:

  • Tennessee-Martin: The Cats’ season opener against the Skyhawks will cost UK $410,000 (increased from the original agreed upon amount of $375,000 before the date of the game moved as a part of the Southeastern Conference’s schedule shakeups). As part of the contract, the visiting team will receive 800 complimentary tickets and 2,000 tickets to sell to its fans. Up to 500 of those tickets can be returned to UK two weeks prior to the game. The Aug. 30 game is a one-game contract signed in May of 2013.
  • Louisiana Monroe: When the Warhawks come to Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 11 as part of a one-game deal signed in March of 2013, they will earn a flat fee of $1 million. Louisiana Monroe will be given 5,000 tickets to sell to fans, with unsold tickets being returned to UK by Sept. 15. They also will receive 300 complimentary tickets beyond the tickets for sale.
  • Ohio University: When the Bobcats come to Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 6, it is part of a one-game deal signed in early 2009 where UK agreed to pay $650,000. Ohio University will receive 3,000 tickets to sell to fans and can return no more than 500 tickets within two weeks of the game. The Bobcats also receive 350 free tickets in the deal.
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Toth put on watch list for nation’s top center

Kentucky’s Jon Toth, whose coaches called him “the most improved player we’ve got on offense” during spring practices, is on the national watch list for the nation’s best center. He was one of 66 centers placed on the Rimington Trophy Watch List on Tuesday morning.

Toth, one of five sophomores on the list, became the full-time starter at center in UK’s second game of the season in 2013, finishing with 11 starts in 12 games played. His play at center in 2013 helped three UK players rush for 400-plus yards, the first time UK accomplished that feat since 1986.

For his efforts, Toth was named to the Southeastern Conference all-freshman team by league coaches. Toth also was named to the SEC Academic Honor Roll in 2013.

I wrote a notebook item a couple of months ago about his growth as a player learning a new position. Here’s that story: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/05/03/3225599/uk-football-notebook-position.html

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Single-game tickets on sale this week

Single-game tickets for the Kentucky football season are on sale now for season ticket holders and will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday morning, the school announced.

The priority window for single-game tickets closes on Tuesday. The general public can purchase tickets through the UK Ticket Office or through Ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $45 for Tennessee-Martin, Ohio and Louisiana Monroe games and $50 for the Southeastern Conference games.

Season tickets for the 2014 Kentucky football season are still available by visiting ukfootballtix.com or calling (800) 928-2287.

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