DEMAREE: Cats' Depth, Versatility Better

Good teams have the quality numbers on the team, which allow them to grab players internally from one position and plug them into another position of need. The question is has UK reached that point? Coach Rich Brooks believes they have.

"Man, what's puzzling to me is the same people that were criticizing us for not beating the Florida's, the Tennessee's, and the LSU's when we had only 67 scholarship players, now we have a full boat and a good football team and those same people are saying ‘I don't know if we can have a better record because of the schedule," Brooks exclaimed.

Brooks said three years ago that to get where they are trying to go, they would have to layer about three recruiting classes. We asked Brooks if those classes have garnered the sought after dividends.

"Well, we are certainly in better shape than we've been in the four years we've been here," Brooks said. "But there are still a few holes in that because of the scholarship limitations and sometimes we went long on one position because we thought we got a better player than at a position that maybe we just signed somebody for need. So, this year is a big year to try to get some of that straightened out in the recruiting process."

Be that as it may, we can look back on past years' depth and we see that it wasn't quality enough to do some of the things they have done since spring practice. One example is what good teams have done for years--they have often taken tight ends and move them to offensive tackle. With some cajoling, it was suggested that former tight end Eric Scott move to offensive center.

As a junior, Scott spent all of 2006 grooming himself at that position. At the beginning of spring practice, he reported up some 22-pounds to 292-pounds and was a smashing success and a needed surprise in spring practice since the team needed a starter to fill the void left by center Matt McCutchen.

Another case that has taken shape during and since spring practice is the moving of Zipp Duncan from tight end to the offensive line. He likewise has put on 35-pounds. Brooks said Duncan and Scott, who were a little slow for tight end are excellent for the offensive line because of their feet.

Recruiting coordinator Randy Sanders said that's a product of good recruiting. "You need to recruit players that can do more than one thing," Sanders explained. It appears the versatility of the team is taking shape by having enough talented depth that facilitates the ability to move players around from position to position to fill need. Sanders added, "that's also a product of what our weight room is doing and the conditioning there for a guy like Zipp to gain 20-pounds or whatever it was he gained, is a product of that. And maybe we missed on a few recruits and had to move somebody in there. It wasn't necessarily that we recruited a guy thinking that, that was what was going to end up happening with him. It just kind of happened by election. There were some injuries that force that upon us, with the moving of Scott" He said he feels the nucleus is there to have a good football team for the next several years.

Coach Joker Phillips agreed. "We do have more good athletes now," Phillips said referring to the versatility of the team. "We've got more big athletes, too and that means they can play on either side to the ball. We've got some tall tight ends that we've moved over there at offensive line, some tall tight end type bodies that can be tight ends. That's one thing we need to do is recruit big athletes, and we need to get into the skill positions. We need to get some small athletes that can play defensive back and wide receiver. Keenan Burton is a good example of a guy that came in here that could play db or receiver. The one thing we do in the first practices early in fall camp is we have offensive periods and defensive periods with the young kids and have them play both sides of the ball to see if a kid that project himself at either an offensive spot maybe better suited for a defensive position. David Jones is another kid that's looking for a home. "I think David's future is as a corner to play at a level after this, we think is as a corner and tremendous athlete."

Another player, former defensive end D.J. Craigman, has grown to defensive tackle size and he is getting a crack at the defensive tackle spot. Presently, he is learning the position and coach Brooks says that he has been so, so. "He has to learn to play with his pad level lower and be more physical," Brooks said. Let the versatility continue!

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