JUCO's the key to Kentucky's season

2004 will be an important season for Rich Brooks and the future of the Wildcat football program.

While the recruiting class announced at the beginning of the month was an important start to the year, the January arrivals of the five junior-college players will determine the success for Kentucky football in 2004.

Regardless of your opinion on junior college players, they do a lot more then bring a body to campus. Junior college kids bring immediate depth and help create balance in the scholarship numbers. With transfers, academic causalities, and early graduation effecting every school across the country, scholarship numbers can become easily skewed at a particular position. Such is the case currently at offensive line, where Kentucky might start two True freshmen on the offensive line in Micah Jones and Kane Hannaford.

Enter Ernie Pelayo.

The junior college transfer will need to not only give quality depth, but be a key addition to the Cats on the line. His presence on the line will immediately give UK experience and a matured body who has played against other collegiate athletes. Without Ernie in the class of incoming newcomers, the Cats would be in serious danger for the future.

Pelayo's presence is one of many that the Cats are going to rely heavily on for 2004. Perhaps not as highly publicized, but equally as important is Scott Mitchell. Mitchell will give Kentucky its tall deep threat they have lacked in previous seasons. He also will become one of Kentucky's fastest receivers upon arrival.

"I think I can add something to the guys that are already here," Mitchell said. "I think we'll be a deep group and will give people fits all year."

Deep would be an understatement. The Cats will feature an SEC type receiving corps that has speed, size, and experience. With Mitchell's addition, opposing defenses will have to adjust and therefore give speedsters Glenn Holt and John Logan opportunities to stretch the defense.

"I like to think I can stretch the defense a little bit. I like to run deep routes and take on smaller DBs," Mitchell said. There aren't too many DBs with my height and size so I try to use that to my advantage."

Height and speed is another characteristic of another new junior college addition in Jamir Davis. Davis was a bit of an unknown among the junior college circuit, but he will be a great addition to an offensive line that should be young. Davis has the experience in an option type offense, having played for national champion, City College of San Francisco, the past few years. He will need to be an immediate impact player in passing schemes and blocking schemes to open up the offense for the Cats. Davis represents another addition that could not be found in a high school freshman.

"I'm just trying to get my body ready for the spring so by the time spring comes, I'm ready to compete and try to earn a spot," Davis said. "Everybody's got to start new. I've got to earn my spot."

Junior college kids may come with a bad wrap, but what they bring is immediate help. And at this point, Kentucky may need that more then ever.


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