Football Wildcats open spring practice on Wednesday

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Legendary Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles once said, “Luck follows speed.” If that’s so, the Kentucky football team might be in for more “luck” in the 2009 season.

Results from the team’s winter strength and conditioning program have been tabulated by Marc Hill, UK Director of Strength and Conditioning. The numbers show significant improvement in overall team speed and quickness, along with some gains in strength, as compared to the results of March 2008.

In the 40-yard dash, 27.5 percent of the Wildcats were timed at 4.63 seconds or better, up from 23 percent a year ago.

The 20-yard shuttle, which measures lateral movement and ability to change directions quickly, featured 70.6 percent of the team timed under 4.5 seconds. That’s a jump from 66.3 percent of the squad that was under 4.5 seconds last year.

In judging strength, progress was made in all three of the primary lifts.
• 30.4 percent of the Cats topped 500 pounds in the squat lift, up from 29.5 percent last year
• 21 percent of the team hit 350 pounds in the bench press, up from 20 percent a year ago
• 20.8 percent of the team hefted 300 pounds in the power clean, up from 18.2 percent in 2008

An interesting note is that the speed testing is conducted in the Nutter Field House, in which the playing surface was replaced last May. The new FieldTurf is much softer than the previous hard surface, which led Hill to suspect that this year’s times would be slower than previous years. In fact, however, the opposite occurred.

“I was concerned that the softer turf might lead to slower numbers but that didn’t happen,” Hill said. “The bottom line is that the coaches continue to recruit better players and better athletes, and that’s showing up in our testing.”

Brooks Hall of Fame Induction Tonight: University of Kentucky head football coach Rich Brooks will be inducted into the Northern California Sports Association Hall of Fame at the group’s annual dinner on Saturday, March 28 in Yuba City, Calif.

Born in Forest, Calif., Brooks’ distinguished career in athletics began at Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley, Calif., where he competed in football, basketball, track and boxing.

Brooks went on to Oregon State University, where he was a part-time starting defensive back as a sophomore, then a full-time regular as a junior and senior. As a senior, he nabbed five interceptions for a team that went 9-2 and won the Liberty Bowl. He also was a reserve quarterback behind Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker.

Brooks began his coaching career immediately after graduation. He was an assistant coach at Norte Del Rio High School, Oregon State, UCLA and with the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League.

Brooks got his first head coaching job at the University of Oregon from 1977-94 and gradually rebuilt a downtrodden program. He took the Ducks to bowl games in four of his last six seasons. In 1994, Oregon won the Pacific-10 Conference championship and played in the Rose Bowl, earning Brooks National Coach of the Year honors from the Football Writers Association of America (Bear Bryant Award), The Sporting News, and ESPN. He also served in the dual role of athletic director and head football coach in his last two years at Oregon.

Brooks returned to the NFL as head coach of the St. Louis Rams in 1995-96, where he compiled the team’s best two-year record in nearly a decade. He then spent the next four seasons as assistant head coach/defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, helping guide the team to the only Super Bowl appearance in the franchise’s history.

Brooks took over at Kentucky on Dec. 30, 2002, inheriting a team burdened by the effects of a severe NCAA probation. After three years of patient coaching and tireless recruiting, Brooks’ squad had a breakout season in 2006. The 8-5 record included a win over Georgia and a Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl triumph over heavily favored Clemson, UK’s first bowl victory in 22 years.

The 2007 season produced another 8-5 mark and a Music City Bowl win over Florida State. The ’07 campaign also featured upsets of No. 9 Louisville and No. 1 LSU, which went on to win the national championship.

Despite heavy graduation losses, the 2008 squad fought its way to another postseason appearance. The Wildcats went 7-6, capped by a victory over East Carolina in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. In the process, Brooks joined Paul “Bear” Bryant as the only two coaches in school history to go to postseason action in three straight years, and marked the first time that UK won bowl games in three consecutive seasons.

This is Brooks’ second hall of fame award. In 1995, he was inducted into the Independence Bowl Hall of Fame, in which two of his Oregon teams played.

Media Advisory, Pre-Spring News Conference on Tuesday: Coach Rich Brooks and selected players will be available at the pre-spring practice news conference on Tuesday at the Wildcat Den at Commonwealth Stadium.

Lunch will be at 11:15 a.m., followed by interviews at 11:45. Parking will be available at the normal place, outside gate one of the stadium.

Media Advisories for Spring Practice: Kentucky spring football practice begins Wed. April 1 at 9 a.m. at the Nutter Training Facility. Here are some media advisories for the spring:

• Practices are open to the media and public. Still photography and video are permitted except for 11-on-11 portions of practice.
• For news conferences and practices, a maximum of three minutes of audio or video may be used in a newscast or posted on the internet.
• Interviews are conducted at the end of practice. Media are recommended to arrive at least 15 minutes before the end of practice in order to request interviews.
• Media need to wear their 2007-08 credentials in order to gain access to the field during practice. Those who do not have credentials should see Tony Neely, Susan Lax or Jeremy Strachan to get a practice pass.
• In case of bad weather, practices might be moved inside to the Nutter Field House.

Spring Practice Calendar: Practices are open to media and fans. Practices held at the Nutter Training Facility unless noted otherwise. Practices might be moved indoors to the Nutter Field House in case of bad weather. Video cameras permitted for credentialed media only.

Wed. April 1 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Fri. April 3 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Sat. April 4 2 to 4:30 p.m. (tentative)
Mon. April 6 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Wed. April 8 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Fri. April 10 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Sat. April 11 time and location TBA
Mon. April 13 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Wed. April 15 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Fri. April 17 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Sat. April 18 time and location TBA
Mon. April 20 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Wed. April 22 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Fri. April 24 9 to 11:20 a.m.
Sat. April 25 Blue/White Spring Game, 1:30 p.m., Commonwealth Stadium

Kentucky Football Calendar:
Sat. March 28 Rich Brooks inducted into Northern California Sports Association Hall of Fame
Tues. March 31 Pre-spring practice luncheon/news conference, Wildcat Den at Commonwealth Stadium; 11:15 a.m. lunch, 11:45 interviews
Wed. April 1 Spring practice begins
Sat. April 25 Blue/White Spring Game, 1:30 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium