Brooks started his comments by talking about his favorite time of year. "This is really an exciting time," said the head coach. "Seeing the players come back, getting the new faces in, and I always really enjoy taking the [team] pictures with the newcomers. I have had to look a little taller to see them." After a couple of years where the team wasn't in the best of shape going into fall practice, Brooks sounded ecstatic with the conditioning of his team this summer and how everyone returned, and especially the new offensive linemen. "We have got a pretty good group of offensive linemen in this incoming group. I am impressed with the way most have showed up. I am sure there are a few players who will need some conditioning. Our overall conditioning test that we completed at the end of our summer workouts was as successful as it has been from a cardiovascular standpoint. I'm very encouraged."
Regarding the incoming freshmen, Brooks reaffirmed the fact that newcomers would be an important part of this team this year, getting a lot of playing time right out of the gate. "I think that you're going to see some of these new faces play a significant role for us this year. One reason is because I think they're pretty talented. Secondly, our depth is still a concern and a problem." Overall, though, the numbers are still shy of most SEC team rosters. "We put four players on scholarship, and we are at about 76 scholarship players right now. Most of the people we are going line up and play against are close to 85. Next year, that will be resolved and we will be up there ourselves."
Brooks knows that he will be relying on an inexperienced, young team to take him through the battles of the SEC. "At this point and time, we are young, we are a little inexperienced, but we are also going to be a faster edition of a football team. More team speed than we've had, and I think more competition in some spots than in the past couple of years."
When asked about his main areas of concern with this year's team, defense stuck out to Brooks. "I think linebacker is a area of concern from a depth standpoint and an experience standpoint. But I am encouraged by the speed, size, and athletic ability of the linebacking corp that we do have. Corner is also a little bit of a problem. We have two experienced players coming back, and then we go to redshirt freshmen, pretty much. Offensive line has been a concern and still is, but there is more good-looking, SEC-type bodies to fill those roles, and when you see some of these newcomers in that offensive line, I think you would have to be blind not to see that these guys are pretty good-looking players."
Brooks himself talked about how he is excited to begin this year. "I told my players last night that I am as excited to start this season as I've ever been in my coaching career. I feel pretty good about the group of guys I'm coaching. Now we got to go out on the field and do the hard work, getting some fundamental stuff done, getting some learning done, then go out on the field and prove it. I feel good about my team."
Kentucky Football Media Day Photo Gallery by Clay Jackson. Read more about Media Day with Larry Vaught and Jim Tirey. Also check out Jim Tirey's interview with Lee Corso and Fran Curci on UK and UL Football.