In-state players a top recruiting priority for Cats

December 03, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - Not long after Kentucky had ended its season with a 20-7 loss to Tennessee Saturday, UK recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips vowed to make in-state recruiting a priority.

"We have to secure the state guys and then go out and get some legs, arms and speed out of state," said Phillips. "There are as many as 10 to 15 in-state players I could see us signing if we could get them all. This is a really good year in the state. We are telling those players we need them to stay here and help us get this thing turned around."

One of those in-state players liked that recruiting pitch because 300-pound defensive lineman Myron Pryor of Louisville Eastern now says he'll sign with the Wildcats in February.

He had listed Louisville as his top choice most of the season with Kentucky and Indiana next. However, the Cardinals have yet to offer a scholarship.


"Kentucky has been on me hard all the time. I think I went to four games and watched some more on TV," Pryor said. "After I took my official visit, I knew that's where I wanted to be.

"The coaches have told me they need some help in the defensive line and they are going to let me play there, which is what I wanted. I just didn't see any need to wait any longer to make my decision. I know they had a rough year with a new coach, but I think they are going to get things going the right way."

His coach, Lance Dudley, says Pryor's biggest assets are his strength, footwork and explosiveness. He can bench press 375 pounds, squat 550 and dead lift 690. That's one reason most teams put two, or three, blockers on him.

"It would have been too easy if they just had one," Pryor said. "But I know I've got to get a lot better in college."

Phillips, who cannot comment on specific recruits because of NCAA rules, says a chance to play early appeals to recruits.

"We feel we can get this thing turned around in a hurry," Phillips said. "Why wait to play young kids? The thing that will happen if you do that is that someone else will be coaching them. We've got to get them here and play them in a hurry. That playing time is exactly what we are trying to sell."

Louisville Trinity quarterback Brian Brohm made an official visit to UK last weekend. He continues to list UK, Louisville, Tennessee and Notre Dame as his top four schools. Brohm met with both UK coach Rich Brooks and offensive coordinator Ron Hudson individually during his visit.

Phillips also says UK hopes to bring in some junior college players to fill specific needs. End-linebacker Cedric Kroger of Dodge City (Kansas) Community College told this week that Kentucky is at the top of his list.

"But in the state is where our top priority lies. There are quarterbacks, running backs and linemen," Phillips said. "We feel we can upgrade the talent in a hurry right here in the state. You've got to own your state before you can do anything."

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