The Who's Who of the first two

The first two days of fall practice has seen the freshman try and strut their stuff. Check out who may be the best of the best in this years freshman class.

Okay, we know about Arliss Beach (#5), we know about Monquantae Gibson (#30), and we know that they have tremendous potential, the chance to be the best in the SEC.


But hold on, just one moment, there are a few other players in the class of 2002 that just may be able to reach such a lofty status that maybe did not receive the same accolades out of high school.


First off, you have Travis Slaydon from Texas, an O-lineman (number 58 for those who can slip out of work and check out a practice in the future) who came in relative obscurity.  What most don't know here in the bluegrass is how he shut down a future Texas A&M Defensive Tackle in the Texas High School All-Star game by throwing him down with 7 pancakes.


Travis was not the only Offensive Lineman who looked good, as the entire class showed a change in recruiting philosophy for Guy Morriss.  It was obvious to all watching that the new breed is a more well put together lineman, who has the 300 lb neccessary to compete, but does not carry the same amount of useless pudge.


There is no greater example of this than Jared McGowan (#71).  At 6'4, 300 lbs, he moves flawlessly and had great footwork for a kid his size and weight.  If his strength is half as impressive as his footwork, he may have a chance to start this season.


The lot of offensive lineman make for what could be the best class since Guy Morriss has been a coach at UK.  After 5 years playing and lifting weights, these may be the new hogs, so stock up on your pig noses and dresses (for the ones unfamiliar with the hogs of the Washington Redskins, they wear pig noses and dresses for each game).  Okay, well, maybe not, but it will be nice to see the elite in the SEC being pushed around by this talented group of lineman. 


On the defensive side of the ball, the Mills brothers physically look almost exactly alike, although Lamar is an inch or two shorter.  Both will be contributors in the future, but Bennie (# 92) will not be available for another year, and Lamar (#94) should be considered unavailable for another year.  He needs some time before he is ready to compete against the best offensive lineman in the nation.


If you have been following any of the reports across the internet, I am sure you have run across, somewhere, the extreme similarities of Kareem Reid (#56) and Dennis Johnson (formerly #56).  This is almost unfortunate for Kareem, because the expectations immediately rocket through the roof.  I can only hope that he develops his game as much as he has developed his body, but I would not be surprised to see him on the field THIS year creating havoc.


One of the players I was really hoping to get a good look at was Randy Driver, but on the first day of practice he struggled a bit with what seemed to be some form of stomach cramping.  He looked much better today, but I became so preoccupied with the big men on the other side of the field I lost track of what he was doing.  So, I implore all of you reading this, to go to fall practice and watch number 28 to see why he was the one brought off of grey shirt status.


Of the walk-on's, I had some previous knowledge of Steve Willrich, who was profiled on this website a few days ago, so I tried to find others that looked like they belonged.  One really stood out, in cornerback Manny Thurman (#30).  For those who live in the Lexington area, and follow Paul Lawrence Dunbar football, I am sure they remember the small but athletic Thurman who shut down many of the cities top receivers.  If by some chance Mark Hill can improve on his physical stature, give him some beef to improve his leverage during contact, his leaping ability and quickness can get him a scholarship in two years.  With a redshirt year, by his junior campaign he could be in the 2 deep rotation, but I will hold my optimism until I see him compete against the likes of Tommy Cook and Chris Bernard.


I was really disappointed when I did not get to see Bo Smith in the Kentucky-Tennessee All-Star game.  I had heard about Bo's quickness and athleticism, but never had seen him play other than some grainy footage on terrible VHS tape.  After seeing the real deal, his lateral movement and balance struck me immediately.  In push drills, coach McGriff was really getting into the shoulders and bellies of the two cornerbacks in this class (Bo being one of them of course).  Bo would completed the drill easily, meaning that he may be able to avoid the hip troubles that plagued players of UK's past such as Jeremy Bowie, and Marvin Love.


Speaking of Bowie, that Tennessee game was terrible…..  I better move on before the anger builds.


Finally, I think a player that we should look for in the rest of fall ball is Glenn Holt (#4).  The move he put on Bo Smith Wednesday would have taken the shoes off of Deion Sanders in his "prime time".  Although he is rail thin, already there is more athleticism than most of our current receivers.  With time in the weight lifting program, a great reciever he will be (yes, I am a fan of the way Yoda from Star Wars structures his sentences).


But do we sense a theme here?  Yes, virtually every player needs development; none are ready to play SEC football, which is just the reality of the recruiting class.  What is exciting though, is that almost every kid has talent, and lots of it.  The players are just in need of some mass to accompany it.


So, have faith in the future, but be weary of over-expectation.  Measure this class at the end of the 2006 season, and not the end of 2002.

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