TV Time Out

2010: remembering four former Wildcats

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

2011 is just around the corner, bringing the promise of a new year, a new season. But as 2010 fades from our rear view mirror, we pause to remember some who were giants in their era, all of whom wore the blue and white.

2011 is just around the corner, bringing the promise of a new year, a new season.  But as 2010 fades from our rear view mirror, we pause to remember some who were giants in their era, all of whom wore the blue and white.

Brett Favre may have the record for most consecutive games played, but former Wildcat George Blanda holds the NFL record for longevity, with 26 years as a player.  That's also the most in pro sports history. 

Blanda was a quarterback and kicker at UK from 1945-48, playing for coach Bear Bryant during his last three seasons. 

In 1947, Blanda guided the Wildcats to an 8-3 record and a win over Villanova in the Great Lakes Bowl, the first in school history.

The Pennsylvania native still holds the NFL record for PAT's and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.  Blanda also was a member of the first class inducted into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame.  His name is included in the Ring of Honor at Commonwealth Stadium.

Blanda died on Sept. 27, at the age of 83.

William Marksberry played baseball at UK, but might have been better known as one of the world's leading authorities in Alzheimer's Disease research. 

Marksberry graduated with distinction from UK's College of Medicine in its first class in 1964.

He came back to UK in 1972, where he began a long career as a clinician and researcher.  Marksberry's work resulted in numerous honors and prestigious awards, and his findings were published more than 400 times.

Mr. Marksberry died January 10 at the UK Medical Center.

Ralph Kercheval had the distinction of being UK's first All-SEC performer in football.  The Henry Clay grad also played basketball and ran track at UK during his career, from 1931-33.

Kercheval was a quarterback, defensive back and punter for the Wildcats, still holding the SEC record for most punts in a season (101), punting yards in a season (4,413) and his 52 yard average against Cincinnati in 1933 is still the SEC single-game record (min. 10 punts).

Kercheval played seven years in the NFL with the Brooklyn Dodgers. During the offseasons, Kercheval worked on C.V. Whitney's farm in Lexington, learning the horse business, which he later returned to following his pro football career and a stint in the U.S. Army.

Mr. Kercheval died on Oct. 6, in Lexington.  His name, too, is included in the Ring of Honor at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Big Dipper.  One of the Twin Towers. 

Fans remember former Wildcat Melvin Turpin as an offensive juggernaut.  He still may hold the distinction for having the best "touch" of any Wildcat ever around the basket.

Turpin, the youngest of six siblings, no doubt was the tallest.  At 6-foot-11, Turpin starred at Bryan Station before spending a year at Fork Union, where he is listed as a member of the FUMA Hall of Fame.

At Kentucky, Turpin blossomed into a two-time All-SEC selection, and along with All-American Sam Bowie, helped lead the Wildcats to the 1984 SEC title and an NCAA Final Four appearance.

Turpin was known as a scorer, having a smooth game around the basket, able to turn and score, or hit a variety of short jump shots.  He led the SEC in scoring in 1984.

He parlayed his offensive game into an NBA career, albeit, a short one.  Turpin was the sixth pick in the 1984 Draft, but was immediately traded by the Bullets to Cleveland.  He would later spend time playing in Spain.

Retiring from basketball, Turpin returned to Lexington.  To the shock and dismay of former teammates and fans, Turpin committed suicide on July 8.

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