Brooks & Staff Ready For Fall Camp

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Coach Rich Brooks was the featured speaker at the annual Kentucky Kickoff Luncheon, presented by Kroger, on Friday at Lexington’s Radisson Hotel.

Here are excerpts from Brooks’ speech:

“I think this will be the best defense we will have since we’ve been here, and this is the sixth season for us. You’re going to see a defense that is going to play a lot more like the defenses play every year in this league. I think our defensive front is very physical. We’ve got some speed, and some difference-makers up there. It will be nice to have Nii Adjei Oninku back in there after he missed last season due to injury. It will also be nice to have a healthy Ricky Lumpkin. I really believe our defense has depth and competition. We have speed, and just more really good players. I’m very, very encouraged by what I saw on the field in the spring and the way that they’ve taken to the weight room this summer.”

“On the offensive side of the ball we do have some questions. The best skill player we have returning is Dicky Lyons. The good news to me on the offensive side of the ball, we lose the most productive tailback that has played here for us in Rafael Little. We have four tailbacks who I think are going to be just fine. I’m not sure which one will end up being the starter. Some of them, Alfonso (Smith) and (Tony) Dixon have had some injury problems. (Derrick) Locke had a pretty flashy freshman season but, he is a smaller-size back. Moncell (Allen) didn’t play as much, but had a very good spring. He is our biggest back weight-wise. By committee, or whether one of them is going to be able to carry the load, I’m not sure yet. We’re excited about all of those guys.”

“At the tight end position, losing a guy like Jacob Tamme, we are still encouraged by T.C. Drake and Ross Bogue, who both had really good springs. Maurice Grinter has been cleared for full practice. He played fullback last year, but it is conceivable that we will see him play a role in both spots. We are going to look extensively at him in the tight end position. Our blocking I know will be better at this position. Maybe we won’t see quite as many spectacular catches, but I expect our tight end to still be involved in the passing game to a significant extent.”

“The biggest concern I have is the receiver position, because we don’t have, other than Dicky Lyons, a proven guy coming back. Kyrus Lanxter played a little bit. DeMoreo Ford is coming off of an injury. Freshmen will be involved in that battle out there. I think there are some very intriguing players in that rotation. That (wide receiver) is the biggest answer, other than who maybe is going to be the starter at tailback, tight end and at quarterback, we’ll have to find this fall. I think we feel better about having some good choices at those positions. Right now it’s a little bit of an unknown just because we don’t have players with the experience that we have at the other positions.”

“Our offensive line, I still feel this will be the best offensive line that we will have since I got here. We lost some starters, but we have better competition. We have better, younger, more athletic people. We’re excited to see these guys get pads on and see what they can do. A lot of them have played, and we’ll see if they’re going to play better. A lot of them who are new are getting a big opportunity now to put their name up in the spotlight, or their name in the newspaper.”

“Every year this is a time of great enthusiasm and interest. It’s an exciting time for coaches. We get an opportunity to get everything else out of the way, get out on the field and just deal with those players in trying to get them better and get them prepared to play as a unit and get them to be as good as they can be. That is what is exciting and fun about coaching. Then we get to go and take the final exam 12 times. The exams have been a little better the last two years. We need to make sure that we can continue and at least get ‘Bs,’ and we’re heading for an ‘A.’ That’s what we want to try and achieve this year.”

“I think year in and year out Coach (Steve) Ortmayer has done a remarkable job with our kicking game. We slipped a little bit on the return end last year. Our blockers didn’t do as good of a job as in years past. We need to reassert in that area and get back to being one of the best teams on punt and kickoff return not only in the league but, in the nation like we were. Our punter (Tim Masthay) and kicker (Lones Seiber) are back. Their main competition is a year older and a year better, Ryan Tydlacka, who redshirted last year. He’s a placekicker and a punter. We feel that those areas are in as good of shape as they can be.”

Media Advisory, Player Availability on Reporting Day: The players officially report for the 2008 season on Monday, Aug. 4, at the Nutter Training Center. Offensive players have their first meeting at 3 p.m. and defensive players meet at 3:45 p.m.

Interviews will be conducted in the normal interview area at the practice field beginning at 2 p.m. As usual on this day, media should be flexible with requests, as some players come in early and others arrive just before reporting time.

Video and still cameras desiring to get shots of players being fitted for equipment must be escorted to the equipment room by a member of the media relations staff.

Media Day on Tues. Aug. 5: The annual Kentucky Football Media Day is Tues. Aug. 5 at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Wildcat Den (Gate 3 of the stadium) will open at 9:15 a.m. Media guides, posters, schedule cards, a photo CD and media gift will be available. Media members should fill out request forms for player interviews.

Coach Rich Brooks will have a news conference from 10 a.m. to approximately 10:40 a.m. in the Den. During that time, players will be available on the field for special photographs as needed.

At 10:45, Coach Brooks will go to the field for the team photo. Following the team photo, players and assistant coaches will be on the field for interviews until noon.

Please note that on-the-field activities could be moved into the Nutter Field House in the event of bad weather. Media Day is not open to the public, so please do not publicize the timing schedule.

Kentucky Football Calendar: Times subject to change. Practices closed to media and public. Interviews available after practice at Nutter Training Center unless noted otherwise.

Sat. Aug. 2 Women’s Football Clinic, SOLD OUT

Mon. Aug. 4 Players report; interviews 2:00 to 3:45 p.m.

Tues. Aug. 5 UK Football Media Day, 10 a.m.

Group I practice ends at 4:45 p.m. (tentative)

Group II practice ends at 6:15 p.m. (tentative)

Wed. Aug. 6 Group I practice ends at 4:45 p.m. (tentative)

Group II practice ends at 6:15 p.m. (tentative)

Thurs. Aug. 7 Group I practice ends at 4:45 p.m. (tentative)

Group II practice ends at 6:15 p.m. (tentative)

Fri. Aug. 8 Group I practice ends at 4:45 p.m. (tentative)

Group II practice ends at 6:15 p.m. (tentative)

Sat. Aug. 9 Practice ends at 1:45 p.m. (tentative)

Fan Day at Commonwealth Stadium; gates open at 6:30 p.m.,

photos/autographs at 7:30 p.m.

Sun. Aug. 10 Practice ends at 5:45 p.m. (tentative)

Wed. Aug. 27 Classes begin

Sun. Aug. 31 Kentucky at Louisville, 3:30 p.m., televised by ESPN

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