LEMOND: Has Brooks found his man?

One of the most intimidating positions on any football team is at linebacker. Coaches are constantly on the lookout for a quality linebacker who can not only get the job done on the field, but also be a leader in the huddle. At the end of UK's spring practice, head coach Rich Brooks sounded like he may have found his man saying, "I think Joe Schuler is going to be a very, very good inside linebacker for us."

That says a lot about a guy with only two career college starts under his belt, but Schuler says he is ready for the challenge of living up to his coaches high expectations.

"If something goes wrong," Schuler said, "I want the guys to look to me, and look to me for encouragement, and look for structure."

Last season, the 6'3", 240 pound Evansville, Indiana, native played in all 11 UK games as a redshirt freshman. Mixed in with some typical freshmen errors, Schuler showed some signs of being a big-time playmaker.

"The first year was pretty much 'trial and error'," Schuler said. "It was quite a learning experience. We expected a lot of mistakes by the young players. I still make mistakes, but they are a lot fewer. The year of experience has helped me develop into a better player."

Brooks agreed saying, "I've been very encouraged with Joe Schuler at middle linebacker. He's a guy who has leadership ability at the middle linebacker position, which you need. He is instinctive inside. He's a physical football player. He's got SEC size. He'll stick his nose in there and get after you."

Schuler says that the UK linebacking corp is really coming together with Raymond Fountaine, Wesley Woodyard, Dennis Johnson, and Johnny Williams looking to get most of the playing time. And UK football fans will be happy to hear this, Schuler wants to make Commonwealth Stadium an intimidating place to visit.

"We want people to be scared to come to Kentucky and play here at Commonwealth. I really think we are going to surprise some people next season, especially at home. If we can feed off the crowd, I really think we can have some big upsets."

Unfortunately, the Cats have not managed to pull off those upsets in recent years. Something that has to happen for Schuler and the Cats to get back into the "bowl scene".

"We all want that bowl game," Schuler proclaimed. "and we don't want to wait until our senior year. We want it now!"

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