DEMAREE: Cats need to take care of backyard

With signing day fast approaching it is important that Kentucky stand guard and protect its backyard. Kentucky cannot afford to allow area athletes like Winston Guy and Aaron Boyd to continue to leave the Bluegrass to play football elsewhere if there is to be a perennial SEC contender residing in Lexington.

The culmination of the University of Kentucky's recruiting season is fast approaching. Signing day is February 6. Encompassed within the recruiting war for the class of 2008 are a series of battles that have to be won. The more battles won, the larger the ticker-tape parade when Johnny comes marching home.

Speaking of home, referring to the UK's backyard, very few recruiting battles have been won in the 2000's. For the Wildcat football program to get to the place they are hankering to go, they absolutely must start to win those types of battles.

The two chief battles for 2008 the Wildcat coaches find themselves in are for the services of Lexington Catholic's all-purpose 4-star player Winston Guy - and Henry Clay's 4-star wide receiver Aaron Boyd.

In the case of Winston Guy, it appears UK has won that battle, which is one it sorely needed to win. What's so special about a win such as this? A trend that has prevailed is outside major Dl programs having been invading Lexington and closely surrounding areas and plucking the major talent away from the home university. That school in the case of Guy looked to be the Arkansas Razorbacks. Coach Joker Phillips set out to turn that around for this recruiting class. Guy withdrew his commitment from Arkansas and committed to the Wildcats. It appears UK has won that battle but signing day is the proof of the pudding.

Obviously, the loss of Lexington Catholic talent has to turn around for UK to get to where it wants to be heading in the college football world. In recent years, UK has suffered a couple of major setbacks when it lost highly recruited linebacker Brandon Logan to the University of Michigan and quarterback Justin Burke to North Carolina State.

Let's take a look at what the Wolverine's Lloyd Carr and the Wolverines have done in the state of Kentucky in general in the 2000's. There is former Henry Clay star safety Zia Combs, who played for Michigan in 2000, 01, and 02 before his career was ended by injury. Then in 2003 Covington Holmes' safety Brandent Englemon, who had committed to the Wildcats, withdrew his commitment and cast his slot with UM. He was a full-time starter on 2007. In 2005, there was Brandon Logan; Louisville Central defensive tackle James McKinney; and Murray, Kentucky's offensive tackle Cory Zirbel. All highly recruited, all cast their lot with the Wolverines.

Then there's the other major university in Michigan, Michigan State. The Spartans plucked Lexington Lafayette's defensive back Enrique Shaw and Paris High's big offensive lineman Chase Dumpford in last years recruiting class.

Now comes the remaining Lexington plum, 6-foot-4 ½ wide receiver Aaron Boyd. When discussing the need to keep Lexington athletes home to play for the University of Kentucky Boyd's coach Sam Simpson said, "Yeah, I would like to see that happen." Of course there will always be that occasional player that just wants to leave home.

Boyd said he will complete the anxiety build up on signing day and pick a school. He's presently been offered by Arkansas, Texas A&M, and Missouri. This writer is going out on the limb and predicting Boyd will be in the UK blue next season.

Those anxiety build ups are not something a coach relishes but it indicates they are on the trail of the right people. In recent memory, there was the recruiting day press conference when the Rafael Little wait was on and halfway through the presser, Joker Phillips stepped in the back door Of Wildcat Den and gave Rich Brooks, who was on the podium, a thumbs up. Highly recruited Corey Peters made his decision on signing date.

Perhaps UK is turning the proverbial corner in keeping local talent at home? Stay tuned!


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