VAUGHT: Brooks realistic with NFL talk

Since Rich Brooks is a former NFL coach, he sometimes will "realistically" talk to recruits about a possible professional football career.

"If you have a dream to go to the NFL, we have a staff that knows what it takes to get there," Brooks said. "We have been there and coached in the NFL. We know what the league is like.

"Now I also tell players that they cannot count on playing in the NFL and that they need an education and degree so they can take care of themselves for the rest of their life. The percentage that makes it in the NFL is very small. Even if you do make, you can still get hurt and need your education.

"But clearly we have people on this staff that have coached in the NFL and Super Bowl. If a player will listen, pay attention and do what he is told, they have a great chance here to progress in that direction."

Burton has four juniors -- receiver Keenan Burton, quarterback Andre Woodson, running back Rafael Little and tight end Jacob Tamme -- that he thinks are "absolutely" future NFL prospects. He's even encourage Burton, Woodson and Little to check their NFL draft status now. He also includes running back Tony Dixon in that group of skilled UK players who could one day play in the NFL.

"Some of them will get there a little earlier than others," Brooks said. "Rafael got to a high level last year, then was saddled with injuries this year and didn't do all he wanted and was not as productive as he wanted to be. Tony matured tremendously last season when he was hurt. He got everything together academically and really matured. I am still waiting for some other players on this team to do the same thing. Jacob just needs a full year in the weight room, which he should finally get now."

Woodson has made it clear he will be back at UK next year and Brooks thinks he could be one of the nation's premier quarterbacks. Burton and Little will weigh their draft options before making a decision on their future in the next few weeks. However, Brooks says it's easy to tell a player that could tremendously help UK next year to leave early if the circumstances are right.

"I think any time a player has a chance to be drafted very high, you have to take advantage of that because you never know what the next year will bring. That's why I talked to Keenan and advised him to fill out the (NFL) paper work so he can judge and see what it is.

"Now can Keenan be a better prospect a year from now? Absolutely. So can Rafael. They both need to get stronger, they still have some things to learn and get better at. Most of it is the weight room. Both of them need to get in the weight room just like Jacob does. They can all get better. But if the time is right for any of them to go, I will be the first to encourage them to do that."

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