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Of the 21 players signed last Wednesday by Jerry Claiborne and his staff 12 hail from the Bluegrass State. And UK will apparently take its time in signing No. 22.
Claiborne more than satisfied with lastest recruiting campaign—inks 21
Compiled by The Cats' Pause staff
UK football coach Jerry Claiborne was more than satisfied with his latest recruiting class, his eighth with the Wildcats. The UK coach announced last Wednesday that he and his staff signed 21 players, including 12 from the Bluegrass State.
"We're very pleased with the players we've been able to sign," Claiborne was quoted in a story by the Lexington Herald-Leader. "We feel like we've signed some wide receivers that are good college prospects. We've gotten some linebackers who could also play tight ends or fullbacks.
"We've got some linemen that we feel like can play on both sides of the ball. These are the types of people we've signed. Most can play more than one or two places."
Kentucky had 22 scholarships to offer. The NCAA earlier trimmed the previous 30 to 25 and three Wildcat walkons also were awarded scholarships. As of last Friday, UK's list of signees was holding at 21.
Catch No. 22 was supposed to be a defensive end from Florida, but that didn't pan out. Chris Graham, from Ft. Walton Beach, had verbally committed to Kentucky. He changed his mind and signed with Memphis State, however.
Still, the 'Cats had what many consider a near-banner season.
"Skill people—running backs, receivers, linebackers—I think we had a pretty good class there," indicated assistant Chip Garber in an interview with The Cats' Pause. "We didn't sign a bunch of offensive or defensive linemen because we got a pretty good group last year. Last year's group, we thought it was a decent group but, yet, they've turned out to be even better than what we hoped for.
"You really don't know until they get on your campus and see how they're going to fit into your program. I think four or five years down the road you should go back and rate how the classes have done—how much they have contributed and how many are still around. A lot of schools, whom I won't mention but are south of the Kentucky boarder,
don't have a very good track record of keeping kids in school; they'll lose a lot of people. So I think the strength of your class is if you've got a lot of kids who stay w ith your program and don't either flunk out or aren't run off."
?Please turn to page 25 for a thumbnail sketch on all 21 Wildcat signees.
Thirteen of Kentucky's signees hail from the Bluegrass. In fact, four can be found at Louisville Male High School—Eric Carter (5-11, 190-pound tailback), Salim Shahid (6-3, 177, wide receiver), Terry Samuels (6-3, 220, tight end) and Sean Smith (6-foot, 225, linebacker).
Carter is a first-team all-state selection while Shahid, Samuels and Smith were second-team picks.
Other first-teamers from Kentucky include: defensive back Bill Campbell (5-11, 170, Lexington Tates Creek), defensive guard Jon Collins (5-11, 255, Madisonville North Hopkins), defensive tackle Jason Dombroski (6-4, 255, Louisville Trinity), center Wesley Jackson (6-3, 245, Louisville Manuel), wide receiver Kurt Johnson (5-7, 150 Paducah Tilghman), linebacker Marty Moore (6-1, 225, Fort Thomas Highlands) and offensive lineman Barry Rich (6-2, 240, Monroe County).
Outside the Kentucky boarders, UK recruiters landed senior prepsters from Florida, Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Included among the out-of-state signees is David Parks, a 6-3, 250-pound defensive guard. Parks made Georgia's "Top 35", according to the Atlanta Journal Consititution.
On the junior college scene, Claiborne and his staff signed three players, two of which are tight ends. From the '88 team the Wildcats lose TEs Charlie Darrington and Martin Pennington while juniors Mike Meece and Steve Phillips return. With the signing of Bobby Henderson and Rodney Jackson, both from Tyler Junior College in Texas, the Wildcat tight end position looks to be in good hands.
One area where the squad didn't bring in additional support was at quarterback.
Earlier, the state's No. 1 signal culler. Jell Brohm. chose Howard Schncllcnbergcr's program at Louisville.
"We're pretty satisfied with what we've got," said Garber about the situation. "Of course, we signed Brad Smith and Ryan Hockman last year. Both of those kids, in fact, are some of the ones that we felt like were better players than what we thought was coming out of high school. I think we've got some pretty good young ones coming up.
"Of course next year that will be a priority on our list, to get a quarterback or maybe even two."
There's one scholarship left. And it's a vacancy where time is not a problem. . .the main concern is who'll be No. 22. "It's just a wait-and-see thing," said Garber, "if we can find another good football player. "We just don't want to fill it to fill it."
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FOOTBALL NOTES: Spring practice begins March 22 and will end with the Bank One Blue-White game. This will be the second year Bank One has sponsered the event. Kickoff for the Blue-White game has been set for 6 p.m. at Commonwealth Stadium. . .UK assistant Chip Garber strongly pointed out that the cutback from 30 to 25 scholarships helped the Wildcat program. "Again, you're talking about another three or four hundred kids a year that signed Division I-A scholarships last year and in previous years that weren't able to sign 'em this year. That means the caliber of players that might have been going to some of the bigger named schools now are being picked up by some of the other schools. It definitely helps Kentucky.". . .Asked if the recruiting grind is ever too monotonous to handle, Garber said: "It's still exciting. If it's not you better get out because that's such a big part of the program. I think everybody still has the excitement and energy to go out and get the best players that you can. Of course, it's always a little easier when you go to a bowl game, have winning seasons and win championships."