Saturday, July 10, 2010

Which Freshmen will make an impact?

(Photo of Jerrell Priester)

As we inch closer to the start of fall football camp, many people are asking questions about the freshman class. While the Cats have several freshmen who could contribute, most are likely going to red shirt the 2010 season. Below are predictions for each freshman heading into the fall.

Most likely to contribute next season:

Jerrell Priester (ATH) could be the most versatile freshman on campus. Most schools recruited Priester to play Cornerback while UK sold him on playing in the “Wildcat” and Special Teams as well. Priester is another track star who immediately becomes one of the fastest players on the team. Priester would love a shot to line up on offense and has the confidence to play on either side of the ball.

Alex Smith (TE) was the highest rated recruit in the 2010 class. He has the size and ability to be a real playmaker at tight end. UK needs someone to step in at tight end and make a play. Nick Melillo appears to have the starting job for now, but Smith could push for immediate playing time.

Avery Williamson (LB) is probably the closest signee physically ready in the entire class. He is already as strong or stronger than most linebackers on UK’s campus now. Avery has great speed and takes great angles to the ball. He will compete for a starting job if he learns the defensive assignments.

Raymond Sanders (RB) reminds many people of Dion Lewis (Pitt) due to his size. Sanders is very shifty like Cobb, but faster. Due to his low center of gravity he isn’t afraid to lower his pads and run over defenders either. Because of the depth at running back, Sanders will likely be buried on the depth chart. However, he should have an impact on special teams and could line up in the slot position. .

Joseph Mansour (K) will make an impact this fall and has huge potential for a kicker. He can consistently kick field goals from 50+ yards and put the ball deep on kick offs. Remember, he was named to the Georgia All-Decade team coming out of high school. Kickers often get over looked, but Mansour should become a household name early in his career.

Justin Henderson
(DE) was the first commitment in the entire class. He comes from a high school program that produces a ton of talent. The staff feels he will be ahead of most due to the coaching he has already received. Henderson was the only freshman who enrolled early and was able to participate in spring practice. By enrolling early, it gives him a huge advantage over the other freshmen.

Brice Laughlin (DT) could turn a few heads this fall during camp. Ricky Lumpkin will start at one spot and Mister Cobble appears to have the inside track on the other starting spot. However, Mark Crawford and Shane McCord will push for playing time. While Brice is already strong enough, he needs to learn the system and technique necessary to make an impact.

Jewell Ratliff (LB) was a late addition to the 2010 recruiting class, but has excellent size and speed. I’ve been told Ratliff has impressed since enrolling in June and will compete with Ronnie Sneed and Qua Huzzie for playing time. Much like Avery, he must learn a lot quickly for the staff to have confidence in putting him on the field as a true freshman.

Most likely to redshirt next season:

Brandon Gainer (RB) could easily move to the list above if he has a strong fall camp. Gainer has the size and speed to contribute early, but the staff likely won’t burn a redshirt on him unless he is going to contribute. Last year the staff dressed five running backs, so we should expect the same in 2010. (Locke, Allen, Russell, Williams and one more). Gainer hasn’t been cleared by the NCAA yet, but told me he doesn’t expect any problems. He is not on campus yet, but plans to arrive in late July.

Dale Trimble (CB) could be the “gem” of the entire class. UK managed to hold off other SEC schools for Trimble’s services late in the recruiting process. Trimble is a playmaker and opened eyes with his play during a post season All-Star game. He is now qualified and shouldn’t have any issues getting cleared to play. I believe Dale can compete for playing time, however the Cats have depth at cornerback and it’s unlikely both he and Priester play. Like Gainer above, Trimble isn’t on campus yet either.

Miles Simpson (RB) already has the size to be an every down back in the SEC. However, many are not sold on his speed as a running back. Some people feel Simpson should transition to Linebacker or Safety. The staff has stated he will be a running back at UK. His size will allow him to rush for tough yards and take the pounding that is necessary to play in the SEC. I think Simpson has a slight chance to play as a true freshman, but mainly on special teams.

Mike Douglas (DE) is another very long athletic player who is oozing with potential. If Douglas had enrolled early like Justin Henderson, he likely could have contributed this year. However, I think he has to get stronger before he can make a big impact. Because he is 6’5” he will disrupt passing lanes and is very fast. Fortunately, UK has a lot of depth and will need to redshirt some talent.

Nermin Delic (DE) is very similar to Mike Douglas in terms of potential. Delic is another very long player who will disrupt passing lanes and is working hard in the weight room to get stronger. Joker Phillips called him a “Monster”. He isn’t as fast as Douglas, but has real good footwork. Delic played tight end in high school, but will play defensive end at UK.

Ronnie Shields (TE) has the size and speed to make an impact immediately. However, he will have to get stronger to block at tight end. He appears to fit the Jacob Tamme mold more than Alex Smith due to his speed. Just like his other two teammates, Shields is bringing a winning culture from Georgia to Lexington.

Jabari Johnson (LB) is another very aggressive defensive player. Johnson has the build to play linebacker or defensive end. He didn’t arrive in June with his teammates (Raymond Sanders and Ronnie Shields) which has some concerned about his eligibility. Johnson could use a redshirt year to get stronger by most accounts. I’ve been told he will report in late July.

Alvin Davis (DE) will likely need a redshirt year to get stronger and put on some weight. Davis is very athletic, but UK has too much depth for him to see action as a true freshman. Joker Phillips recruited Davis, therefore he saw something he wanted to bring to Lexington. Davis has the potential to end up playing Linebacker as well due to his speed.

Eric Simmons (CB) is a speed demon who went up against some very good competition in Georgia. Due to UK’s depth, he is a likely redshirt candidate. Based on reports, Tee Martin recruited him at New Mexico too. He is very athletic and could be one of the fastest corners when he takes the field at UK.

Malcolm McDuffen (LB) is from Hopkinsville, KY and considered pretty raw by most evaluators. He played Defensive End in high school, but has been projected to play Linebacker at UK. McDuffen has good speed, but will need to make the transition to a new position.

Tyler Robinson (TE) is another Aloca, TN pipeline connection. Some schools recruited Robinson to play offensive line. He is projected to play tight end at UK. While Robinson doesn’t have the speed of Ronnie Shields, he is bigger. Some people feel Robinson was overlooked because his high school team didn’t have to throw the ball. He could be a sleeper this summer and one who could end up seeing some action.

Teven Eatmon (OL) has one of the most exciting highlight videos of any recruit. It’s amazing to watch a 280 lb tight end running down the middle of the field. Most people feel Eatmon will become an offensive tackle due to his size. If this is the case, he will need to get stronger to make the switch. He is another very interesting player who has a tremendous upside.

Tyler Brause (QB) was recruited as an athlete and also his high school Valedictorian. The staff is allowing Brause an opportunity to play quarterback, but could end up making a position switch during his career. Brause will need to work on his arm strength and mechanics if he is going to stay at QB.

Most likely to greyshirt or not enroll:

Tim Patterson
(DE) was the biggest surprise in the 2010 class in my opinion. All signs indicated he would sign with Louisville. In the end, Joker Phillips was able to secure his commitment. Patterson played Linebacker in high school, but most have projected him to move to Defensive End in college. I continue to hear that Patterson will not make it to UK this fall and likely head to a Junior College or Prep School.

Farrington Huguenin (DE) was another late surprise by Joker Phillips. Huguenin is from South Carolina and most consider him a high risk / high reward type of player. Huguenin posted an extremely fast shuttle time at one combine and plays hard every down. Huguenin has already confirmed he will attend prep school this fall and plans to enroll at UK in January.

Donte Rumph (DE) gets placed in this category because this is the third time he has signed with UK. The staff kept their promise with Rumph and stuck with him. It also speaks volume of his potential. Because of his age, he is older than most freshman, but will have five years to play four. If he makes it on campus, he will need to get back into football shape.

Tim McAdoo (OL) signed with UK and most considered him a “soft commit”. I continue to hear he will not qualify and have attend Junior College or prep school this fall. The staff stated they would move him to the offensive line and he was already drawing comparisons to Larry Warford.

Juco Signees:

Josh Gibbs (S) was a Juco player from California who enrolled early and participated in spring practice. Gibbs actually started at strong safety during spring scrimmage. Gibbs is faster than Matt Lentz and based on his film is always around the ball. He should be a factor on special teams as well.

Mychal Bailey (S) is finishing up two summer classes and then should be cleared to enroll at UK in late July. Bailey signed with UK out of high school, but had to attend a Junior College for academic reasons. Bailey has a reputation of being a big hitter on defense, but also could see action returning kick offs as well. Look to see him make an impact on special teams for certain.


  1. Supposedly Simpson's move to LB has already taken place.

  2. I was told recently he is going to start out at RB and if it didn't work out he would move to LB or Safety.

  3. Well, the interview I read he stated Coach Smith had already talked to him about starting out at LB. Guess we will see.

  4. Great article! When you mentioned the five running back that might dress for UK this season, did you forget about Jonathan George?

  5. UK football is a lot like the men's basketball team at the University of Nebraska. Both UK football and Husker BB are nice sports to watch to kill a little time but who really cares?

  6. Since UK averaged about 70,000 fans at Commonwealth last year I would say a lot of fans do. I know one for sure.