VAUGHT: Recruiting going suprising well

Many things have gone wrong this season for Rich Brooks and his Kentucky staff. The one thing that has gone suprisingly well is recruiting. On Friday Kentucky and Brooks picked up their thirteenth verbal, when St. Xavier OL Justin Jeffries committed to the Cats. Rich Brooks talked about recruiting during his weekly Sunday teleconference earlier today.

The best part of this football season for Kentucky coach Rich Brooks has not been on the field. Instead, it has been recruiting.

The day before the Wildcats suffered another crushing loss at Mississippi Saturday, UK picked up a verbal commitment from Louisville St. Xavier offensive lineman Justin Jeffries. Earlier in the week the Cats also got verbal commitments from junior college tight end J. D. Craigman and speedy Memphis running back LaRay Foote.

How can a team that is 1-5 with a coach fighting to keep his job already have 13 verbal commitments for next year? That doesn't include Louisville Fairdale running back Maurice Grinter, who will enroll at UK in January after signing with Louisville last year and then finding the Cards did not have a scholarship for him.

"We are working hard at it," Brooks said Sunday when asked about recruiting. "Young players looking at programs get to see good young players having an impact on our program and once we come off our numbers problem (from NCAA probation) and our depth improves they can see a future here.

"I just think we are doing a good job evaluating and communicating with prospects. Hopefully, they see the future."

But what are recruits seeing that many fans and media members who are calling for Brooks' ouster don't see? has Kentucky with six three-star recruits and five more two-star players on a scale where a five-star player is considered a superstar.

"It's obvious we are getting commitments from good players and that they have a little more belief than some others do about what is going on here," Brooks said.

Brooks knows a win this Saturday over Mississippi State would certainly help his team — and his job status. Yet he warned not to be fooled by Mississippi State's five losses, including one to Houston last week.

"Houston is the only unranked team they have lost to. They lost to LSU, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee. Those are four pretty good teams.

Mississippi State is struggling, but not as bad as we are with turnovers and inconsistency on defense," Brooks said.

He said the Cats had no serious injuries at Mississippi. Running back Arliss Beach (ankle), cornerback Antoine Huffman (ankle), defensive tackle Jason Leger (back), offensive guard Trai Williams (foot) and receiver Scott Mitchell (knee) should all be fine by Tuesday. Brooks is also hopeful that offensive tackle Fatu Turituri, who aggravated a pulled hamstring muscle, will also be able to play this week.

The coach is not optimistic about sophomore receiver Keenan Burton, who has been out with a broken foot since UK's second game. His ankle "flared up" last week and is now causing problems. He ran Sunday and Brooks says he'll see Monday or Tuesday if he can run pass routes.

"I would say it is doubtful if he can go, but if he does, it will be in a limited role," Brooks said.

Don't look for freshman quarterback Curtis Pulley to get extended playing time even though starter Andre Woodson has struggled the last few games. "We gave him a series in the first half (at Ole Miss) and we struggled and went three and out just like the others (series before). We got him more involved in the game plan than he has been. I hope that role will expand."

However, what Brooks would like to see more is for receivers to beat "press" coverage and for Woodson to make quicker decisions about where to throw.

"Part of it is he (Woodson) is trying to make a play and wants somebody to get open," Brooks said when asked if Woodson is holding the ball too long. "We've got to help him by getting off press coverage, something we have not done very well recently."

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