First, the good. Kentucky coach David Buchanan of Mason County says he's been most impressed with the team speed. This is his third time to be part of the all-star coaching staff and he knows what an edge Tennessee has had in that category most years. But not this year thanks to players like running back Alfonso Smith of Waggener, cornerback David Jones of Belfry and quarterback Curtis Pulley of Hopkinsville.
Kentucky may also have its best defensive front ever and one college coach says Ballard's Earl Heyman, Central's James McKinney and Elizabethtown's Brandon Deaderick all have NFL potential based on their speed, size and strength now.
Now, the bad. Three of the best all-star players — offensive lineman Cory Zirbel, McKinney and linebacker Brandon Logan — are going to Michigan. Deaderick is headed to Alabama. Others like Heyman, receiver Maurice Grinter of Fairdale, receiver Jajuan Spillman of Pleasure Ridge Park and offensive lineman Mike Donoghue are going to Louisville.
For Kentucky to have a chance to enhance its standing in the Southeastern Conference, the Wildcats have to be able to get players like that wearing blue and white. Instead, out of state schools are combining with Louisville to snatch some of the best talent.
"I tried to talk some of those guys into coming to Kentucky with me, but I couldn't," Smith said. "Hopefully we can win some games this year and change that."
Kentucky fans need to hope he's right. The state has another solid group of Division I players coming headed by quarterbacks Justin Burke of Lexington Catholic and Will Fidler of Henderson County along with running back-linebacker Micah Johnson of Fort Campbell. If they see the Cats fare better on the field this season, perhaps they will be wearing blue and white. But if the Cats stumble to another two-win season, all three can easily find other places to play.
"I believe in what Kentucky is going to do. But not everybody is that way. Some players want to go where they know they will win and the only way to get them is to win," Smith said.