But it also gets to showcase the skills of some kids that maybe were considered after-thoughts.
Case in point: Jacob Tamme.
Although always a cornerstone of every article written about wide receivers in the spring, a lot of individuals still felt he did not have the ability to start at wide receiver strictly because, "one-on-one," Jacob Tamme was characterized and stereotyped within the "not fast enough" group.
While that claim may still follow the 6-foot-5 product from Danville, it certainly has not stopped him from impressively out-performing many of the Wildcat defensive backs this summer in skeleton drills.
His tall frame presents such an advantage in the one-on-drills and his willingness to go get the ball at times, has made him a summer standout.
The Wildcat wide receiver has been one of many bright spots of the summer as standouts Keenan Burton and Glenn Holt continue to take over their roles as the stars of the team. Burton and Holt look to be the formidable one-two-punch UK fans had been hoping would develop once All-American Derek Abney graduted.
Holt appears set to take over the role of the next reliable target next to Burton; erasing all doubts that he had trouble catching the football after a fantastic showing in the spring game that has since carried over to the summer. His added muscle and speed has turned himself into a real prospect to look for in the future.
With Scott Mitchell playing along side them and Shane Boyd becoming more comfortable with the junior college product, the future looks outstanding for the Wildcat receivers. If the Cats will struggle this season, it won't be becuase they don't have enough weapons at the wide out position. With Mitchell, Burton, Holt, Logan, and Tamme the Cats have a formidable five man rotation that can compete with anybody in the conference.
No unit has looked sharper then the quarterback position this summer and while Boyd's performances have been outstanding, the play of Joe Joe Brown is extremely encouraging as well.
The freshmen-to-be has apparently recovered nicely from medical problems that prohibited him from enrolling at the beginning of summer school, and is currently in Lexington living with a teammate participating in the skeleton drills and throwing when he can.
While the jury is still out on whether or not he can pick up the playbook fast enough, Brown definitely has the overall ability to quarterback the team, if necessary. He throws a nice ball that comes out of his hand nearly effortless and has the ability to throw on the run better then Andre Woodson already. Although his spiral is in no comparison to the 6-foot-5 star gunslinger from North Hardin, Brown definitely has the quarterback knowledge that Woodson perhaps lacks as a redshirt freshmen. Brown has already taken the initiative to learn the offense, tutoring with Shane Boyd daily.
Woodson, meanwhile, continues to work his way back into the good graces of the coaching staff by working on his rollouts and trying to learn coverages. His attitude has changed a lot as well, finally accepting Shane Boyd's knowledge and listening to his receivers. Woodson has noticeably added some more athleticism and speed with the loss of some excess fat. The staff should be pleased with his progress come August 9th.
Walk-on quarterback Josh Vanlue has not been to shabby either. Generally throwing with the second units of receivers and generally with fellow junior college receiver Scott Mitchell (who takes more reps then anybody), Vanlue exhibits Woodson type skills. He has a nice arm to go along side his terrific mechanics, but does lack in foot speed and athleticism. He definitely struggles with his rollouts at time and with the quick release needed on dump passes, but definitely has nice skills for a walk-on quarterback and will turn some heads this fall.
Arliss Beach has really looked impressive this summer catching the football. He has turned the corner in my opinion as far as becoming the featured running back and should easily win the job in the fall; even with the added pressure of Rafael Little. I think with Little and Beach together in the same backfield, the Cats will finally be able to run the type of offense they wished to showcase under Ron Hudson, before. While Beach's size was the talk of spring practice, it is his added burst of speed that has really stuck out in my mind. He has really turned that corner and I have been extremely impressed with him. Draak Davis, meanwhile, continues to showcase his fantastic speed and quickness again this summer (as he did last summer). I think if the little man were 5 inches taller, he'd be an NFL prospect, but the fact he is smaller makes it more difficult to pitch on the options and really hinders his ability to bounce off tacklers.
Unless something changes dramatically in the next couple months, Jeremiah Drobney will be starting at tight end for Kentucky without a doubt. Drobney has really looked impressive in skeleton drills and has responded to the added competition at his position. In addition to the added weight he has put on, Drobney continues to excel at blocking and pass catching. He works hard at everything and is a tremendous asset to the team, exhibiting leadership through his hard work and not with his mouth. The rest of the tight ends have been mildly impressive compared to the play of the Ohio native. Look for him to have a big year.
Some more notes:
-Ernie Pelayo has apparently turned it on in the weight room this summer according to a source. He needed to add 10-15 pounds to his frame and has apparently hit his mark already and progressing forward. The question marks concerning his strength have been pushed aside and the staff feels he can compete for playing time.
-Amongst those that has really been pushed in addition to Pelayo, is Micah Jones, the 6-foot-5 incoming freshmen from Mayfield. Jones is being counted on to contribute this season and is being pushed to add some strength quickly this summer in antipation of the upcoming season.
-It appears that I am not the only one that thinks Shane Boyd is extremely impressive this summer. According to wide receiver Glenn Holt, this is the most impressive the Lexington native has looked since Holt arrived on campus three years ago and says his confidence is sky high right now.
That could be credited to Mitch Barnhart and his athletic department, whom have helped represent Shane Boyd as the cornerstone of our football program. If anybody needed the positive publicity and media boost, it's Shane Boyd.
-The team appears to have not suffered any setbacks from the news of Bo Smith and Ryan Schumm. According to a source on the team, Smith has been extremely positive throughout the process and has been in contact with many of his teammates.