LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky true freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith will start at quarterback in Kentucky’s contest against Southeastern Conference foe Ole Miss on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium, UK head coach Joker Phillips announced after practice Thursday.
With junior quarterback Morgan Newton being very limited in practice all week and still ailing for an injury sustained in the Mississippi State game, Smith has received most of the first-team repetitions in practice this week.
Smith has played in five games this season, completing 33-of-52 passes for 224 yards. Smith, who came to UK from Granada Hills, Calif., performed well against Mississippi State last week, completing 78.8 percent of his passes (26-for-33) for 174 yards. Smith received his first playing time in the Florida game, when he went 6-for-11 for 41 yards.
Phillips said the UK coaching staff has put more in the playbook this week for Smith and will work with Smith during the game Saturday to help him manage the game better.
“We have put a little bit more in for him,” Phillips said. “We are going to try to help him a little bit also with some of the calls and looking to us and all of those things we have done in the past with our check system. We will be able to give him more because we will be able to help him more.”
Although naming Smith the starter, Phillips wouldn’t rule out that Newton could play Saturday, saying that a lot could change between now and then. Phillips said Newton’s ankle was better Thursday than it had been all week, but they will have to wait and see if the junior quarterback can play.
If Newton isn’t healthy enough to be the backup quarterback Saturday, Phillips said Kentucky will go with true freshman quarterback Bookie Cobbins. Phillips said Cobbins would be used only in an emergency situation, but the coaches are not afraid to use him if needed and Cobbins is willing to play and help the team if called on.
“He is willing to go out there play and if we decided that we have to play him then we are going to play him,” Phillips said. “Four games at quarterback is a lot of snaps for you and who is to say he is going to play next year? Bookie Cobbins is willing to play four games if it comes to that.”
On the injury front, UK tailbacks Jonathan George and CoShik Williams practiced on Thursday and are expected to be ready to go for Saturday. Junior linebacker/end Ridge Wilson did not practice Thursday because of an eye issue, but should be ready to go for the game while cornerback Randall Burden sat out of practice Thursday, but should also play on Saturday.
Kentucky will have a walk-through practice on Friday to put the finishing touches on its preparation for Ole Miss.
Cat Walk Set for 1:15 p.m.: Fans wishing to participate in the “Cat Walk,” cheering the Wildcats when they enter Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, should be at Gate One of the stadium at 1:15 p.m.
Saturday is National College Football Day: Nearly 100 spectators gathered around a field in New Brunswick, N.J., on Nov. 6, 1869 to witness a game unlike anything seen before. The competition between Rutgers and Princeton was "replete with surprise, strategy, prodigies of determination and physical prowess," to use the words of one player. On that day 142 years ago, the Scarlet Knights defeated Princeton, 6-4, but more importantly, the players left a lasting legacy that would evolve into the great spectacle of intercollegiate football.
To honor the birth of an American institution, the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic created “National College Football Day,” a holiday held annually on the first Saturday of November. This Saturday, Nov. 5, will be the eighth observance of College Football Day.
In addition to the Cotton Bowl, the event is sponsored by the Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association, the College Sports Information Directors of America and the Athletic Equipment Managers Association.
Last Week to Vote for Lewellen: This is the final week for Kentucky fans to vote for Wildcat defensive end Jacob Lewellen for captain of the 2011 Good Works Team selected by the Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association.
Fans can vote through Nov. 4. Fans may vote for Jacob at this website,
The Team Captain and his fellow award recipients will be invited to New Orleans to take part in a special volunteer project leading up to the 2012 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Lewellen, a native of Louisville, Ky., has been very involved in community service projects during his Kentucky career, leading the team in volunteer hours with over 90 hours (and counting) in giving back to the community.
He is the most active in “Athletes in Action,” an international Christian sports ministry organization where he serves as a Leadership Team Member. With AIA he leads two weekly Bible studies on campus - one for freshman football team members and one for all upperclassmen on campus. He also mentors freshman football players on a weekly basis and has spent his last two spring breaks in mission work, traveling to Nicaragua in the spring of 2010 and speaking to a youth detention center in Dayton Beach, Fla., in 2011.
During the summer, Lewellen spearheaded a group of UK athletes and staff members to pack bags on the back patio at the Nutter Training Center to take to Joplin, Mo., after the town was devastated by a tornado in July. Lewellen also got his football teammates to donate money to the cause, and together, he, his dad and teammate Max Godby drove to Joplin to help.
The three men went to a church in Joplin where they delivered 100 bags filled with toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, hand sanitizer, folders, pens, pencils, paper and bibles.
Lewellen's work to organize the donations and drive personally, to the town is just one example of his off-field resume. Lewellen has also been a guest speaker at local elementary schools, met with local veterans and befriended a three-year-old cancer patient at Lexington's Hope Lodge.
Parilli to Sign Books at Game Saturday: Vito “Babe” Parilli, one of the greatest quarterbacks in Kentucky history, will autograph copies of his new biography prior to Saturday’s game against Ole Miss.
Parilli and the book’s author, former Lexington Herald-Leader writer Dick Burdette, will be available for autographs Saturday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Wildcat Refuge, located outside Gate 9 of Commonwealth Stadium.
Entitled “Kentucky Babe,” the book covers the life of the former Wildcat All-American. Parilli came to UK from Rochester, Pa. He played at UK from 1949-51, and along with Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, led the Wildcats to the most successful three-year stint in Kentucky football history. Parilli guided the Wildcats to the Orange, Sugar and Cotton Bowl in successive seasons, posting 9-3, 11-1 and 8-4 records, respectively.
With Parilli at the helm, UK’s 1950 team upset Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 1951, ending the Sooners’ 31-game winning streak. During those days, the national polls were final after the regular season and did not take into account bowl game results, hence UK’s No. 7 ranking in The Associated Press and United Press International polls. However, UK is the 1950 national champion according to the Sagarin Computer Ratings, which includes bowl results in its calculations.
Parilli was first-team All-America as a junior and senior. He set every Kentucky record for passing and total offense, many of which were still standing until Tim Couch came along nearly a half-century later.
Parilli enjoyed a 15-year professional career with the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns of the National Football League and the Oakland Raiders, Boston Patriots and New York Jets of the American Football League.