TIREY: Little fills gap left from player injuries

With all the injuries and other problems that the running backs have had for the UK football squad this spring, you would think that the playing time would be there for a young running back to step up and impress the coaches.

With all the injuries and other problems that the running backs have had for the UK football squad this spring, you would think that the playing time would be there for a young running back to step up and impress the coaches. Rafael Little has done that and more this spring, and will probably be your number one back going into this fall. But we knew what Little could do. He proved it last fall during the season. Draak Davis, Arliss Beach, and Tony Dixon have had one problem or another, leaving the backup job for the spring wide open. So who will step up out of the unknowns? Terrell Bankhead would like nothing more than to do just that.

Bankhead transferred to Kentucky from Mesa College in California, which is in the San Diego College family. Bankhead walked on to Kentucky and finds himself getting a lot of carries in his first spring as a Wildcat. Aside from Little and Bankhead, Andrew Hopewell is the only other Cat getting significant action at running back during this spring. Bankhead is usually running with the second team during drills. Does he feel any pressure to hurry and show what he can do, before the injured guys return for the season? "No, not really," said Bankhead. "Whether those guys are here or whether they're not, we all got to do our job and step in and compete. So we all get better as a team." Coach Joker Phillips told me all Bankhead has to do is learn more and learn it quicker. The 5'11", 214-pound junior has raised an eyebrow or two with his effort this spring, but is just so far behind the other guys in knowing the offense.

Bankhead, like a lot of other football players across the country, chose Kentucky because of the idea of playing in the Southeastern Conference. "To play division one football, that's everybody's dream in high school football. So, obviously, it was mine, too." So what has impressed him since he made it to the bluegrass? "We got a good coaching staff that is trying to make the right moves, to push this program in the right direction. So, I'm glad to be a part of that."

Are those same coaches giving him any signals that what he is doing will help him get playing time, once Kentucky starts their schedule in the fall? Bankhead says he just needs to stay the course and learn as quickly as he can. "They just want me to stay strong, keep breaking tackles, and do what I do best. That's really it. That's what they teach out here. Every down, compete. Don't lay down. Don't let nobody pass you up. Give 100% effort. So I'm just trying to follow through with that." Something tells me to bank on Bankhead seeing some playing time at some point this year…


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