SIGNING DAY: 'Surprises' = 'Success'?

The Rich Brooks era has left Wildcats fans with a lot of surprises, but one such surprise that supporters of the program have no problem accepting are the ones that come on Signing Day.

The ole general is synonymous for such things, turning signing day into the new Christmas morning for Wildcat recruitniks. We take a look back at some recent signing day surprises and how successful they turned out.

2003

The Rich Brooks era wasn't given a good head start after Guy Morris all but butchered the last class he touched in 2003.

Brooks' late additions to the class made it semi-respectable in nature, but it certainly didn't help the on-field production.

If it did do anything, it gained some respect with Steve Pardue, coach at LaGrange HS in LaGrange (Ga.). That relationship would lead to four-plus years of success for the Wildcats in one of Georgia's more fertile recruiting grounds.

It all started with Emmanual Harrell.


Harrell never materialized
A four star recruit that dazzeled fans with his unbelievable speed and athletic ability at 5-foot-11, Harrell was a surprise signee on Signing Day 2003 from LaGrange HS.

With high hopes of placing Harrell into a system to get his grades in order, UK added his signature late in the process for nothing more but the honor. He would flunk out of his opportunity and never hit the field in a Wildcat uniform.

Harrell wasn't the only late signee that Brooks took in 2003.

Delaine Means from Avondale HS in Avondale (Ga.) committed to Kentucky on signing day, as well.

The 6-foot-1, 275 pound late signee was a huge surprise, as UK added another late signature that was rated among the nation's top players at his respective position.

At his best, Means was virtually unstoppable, but his attitude and grades pushed schools away. All but Kentucky, who looked to offer Means a chance to be placed in junior college, took the chance of signing Means in 2003. After a valient effort to get his grades in order, UK had to cut him loose and subsequently Means never made it to Lexington.


2004


Brown was Brooks'
First QB Recruit
Brooks' second class saw him struggle to land a quarterback throughout. Despite a loaded group that included several three-star recruits and arguably one of the more talented classes of recent memory in Kentucky, Brooks couldn't land any of his top choices for gunslinger and was left at the altar by Antonio Hefner and Brian Brohm.

That was until Joe Joe Brown arrived to the rescue.

Left for dead by South Carolina's Lou Holtz, Brown signed with Kentucky after the Gamecocks rescinded his scholarship offer during the final week of the recruiting calendar.

Joe Joe committed to Kentucky, sight unseen and was the talk of Coach Brooks' press conference in February of 2004.

"At this point in time the only surprise on this list is Joe Joe Brown, a quarterback that hasn't already been exposed on the internet, radio, TV, newspapers and everything else," Brooks said. "This kid is a very athletic guy who played as a receiver in high school as well. He's a 4.5 or 4.6 40-yard dash (time) guy. He has good height and throws the ball well. We think he's an excellent athlete. He will come in and be in position to learn the system, and I think he will fit our system."

Recovering from arm problems almost the instant he came to campus, Brown struggled to regain his old form and has left the UK Football team.

The other surprise signee from 2004, Aubrey White, whom committed to the 'Cats days before signing day turned down football for basketball at Georgetown College, where he currently starts.


2005


Taking a Chance on
Jenkins was worth it
With internet reports running rampant, it was hard to imagine the UK coaching staff sneaking in to additional recruits, but that's just what they did on Signing Day 2005, when UK announced the signing of Jamaal Jackson from Cordele (Ga.) and Ventrell Jenkins from Columbia (SC).

Jackson, a 6-foot-4, 255 pound defensive end, did not qualify after his senior year, nor after a year off attempting to get his grades in order, but his name could re-surface after he completes his junior college eligbility at Georgia Military College in the spring of 2008.

Jackson, who hails from the same school the produced the now departed Joe Joe Brown, could also open his recruiting process should he qualify.

There could be a case to be made that Jenkins was by far the best surprise Wildcat fans have enjoyed on Signing Day.

After taking a year off to get his grades in order, Jenkins signed with UK with little fanfare, yet started several games in 2005, contributing mightily as a freshmen.


2006

Despite a rather quiet signing day, the Wildcats made a big splash during the morning of, as the Wildcats landed Louisville (Ky.) Central HS defensive tackle Corey Peters from the hands of Ohio State, Auburn, Louisville, and Michigan.

Combined those teams lost 5 games in the 2006 season, but there have been no regrets from Corey's front, as he not only played in every game as a freshmen, but played a huge impact on the Wildcats 8-5 season this year past year.

He's expected to play an even bigger role in 2007.


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