VAUGHT: Brooks: No one works harder than Cook

Cook is a tough, physical player. He values winning more than anything. He's also not afraid to voice his opinions.

Rich Brooks wasn't surprised that some of Kentucky's veteran players were not happy last season when so many true freshmen worked their way into the playing rotation.

He's expecting more of the same this fall when his newest recruiting class arrives on campus. In fact, four players who grayshirted and didn't enroll until January along with one junior college transfer will likely have a big impact on spring practice that started today.

However, Brooks is also counting on one veteran player to provide some leadership that last year's team might have lacked. Tommy Cook will be a sixth-year senior next season. The receiver obtained an extra year of eligibility after missing last season because of an injury he suffered in spring practice.

Cook is a tough, physical player. He values winning more than anything. He's also not afraid to voice his opinions.

"A lot of people assume because you are a senior, you ought to be a leader," Brooks said. "Leaders are accountable. They don't screw up off the field. They lead the way to the classroom, they lead on the practice field and in games.

"No one works harder than Tommy Cook. That's what leadership is all about. No one else on the offense has assumed that role."

So how about an example of what Cook might do?

"If a teammate isn't working hard enough, he'll say, ‘Quit bitching and start working.' No one can question him because they know how hard he works," Brooks said. "That's what we need from our older players."

Brooks feels his whole team is more "accountable" this year and "has a better understanding of what it takes to turn the corner" at Kentucky.

That's why he is looking for quarterback Andre Woodson to be a "take-charge guy" and hoping safety Muhammad Abdullah will speak up more than the one time he did last year. "Because when he did talk, everyone listened," Brooks said.

Cook will talk. He's not afraid to take charge and set the right example for teammates of all ages. He'll play harder than anyone in games and practice. He'll do the right things off the field. He'll be the first to do what he's told by the coaches, too.

So no matter how many catches Cook has, he's going to be a valuable player for Kentucky and the kind of player Brooks knows he can count on to push others to do what it takes to win, too.

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