VAUGHT: Grutza may have been a help

Now that Kentucky has ended spring practice without an adequate backup for quarterback Andre Woodson, it makes one wonder even more why the Wildcats made no serious attempt to recruit in-state standout Dustin Grutza of Mason County.

Grutza just finished his freshman redshirt year at Cincinnati with an outstanding performance in their spring game. He was 12-for-15 passing for 151 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown in his team's 20-9 win.

Cincinnati coach Mark Dantonio calls Grutza a "strong favorite" for the starting quarterback job going into next season. "He's a guy who can make plays. He's elusive. He's made people miss all spring. He's got a nice touch and he's tough," Dantonio told The Enquirer after the spring game.

So why didn't Kentucky recruit Grutza harder? Easy. Former offensive coordinator Ron Hudson didn't think he was a Southeastern Conference-caliber quarterback. The Wildcats finally got involved with him late in the recruiting process, but by then Grutza had way too many options to even give the Cats serious consideration.

But how nice would it have been to have Grutza? Woodson readily admits he didn't work as hard as he should have last year when he knew was going to be No. 2 behind Shane Boyd. However, if Grutza had been on campus, odds are Woodson would have realized then he had to start working harder to make sure he would be No. 1 this year.

A Woodson-Grutza battle for the starting position this spring would have pushed both players. Having Grutza would also have provided needed depth for the Cats, who now likely will have to depend on true freshman Curtis Pulley to back up Woodson.

Kentucky made a lot of right decisions with its 2004 recruiting class and has a lot of talented players in that class. However, one the Cats missed badly on was Grutza and UK's mistake has turned into Cincinnati's good fortune.

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