Vaught's Views: Brooks loses recruits

January 19, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Tubby Smith was not the only University of Kentucky coach that had a bad weekend.

Football coach Rich Brooks didn't lose a game that no one thought he should, like Smith did when Georgia upset UK in Rupp Arena. But Brooks did lose one key recruit - Louisville receiver Mario Urrutia - and another - Mason County quarterback Dustin Grutza - that could come back to haunt him.

And if that wasn't enough to ruin Brooks' weekend, Kentucky was not able to persuade Louisville Trinity quarterback Brian Brohm to make another unofficial visit to Lexington to hear one last recruiting pitch from the Wildcats before he makes either Louisville, Notre Dame, Tennessee or Kentucky his college choice.

Urrutia verbally committed to Kentucky during his junior season. The 6-5, 195-pound Urrutia, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds, had 62 receptions for 1,163 yards and 16 touchdowns at Fern Creek last year. He was one of the big receivers that Brooks said Kentucky desperately needed to make its offense more effective against Southeastern Conference competition.


Urrutia started having second thoughts about UK midway through the season and reopened his recruiting. Obviously, hometown Louisville - and its high-scoring offense - caught his eye and he now says he'll sign with the Cardinals next month.

That could actually be a double whammy for UK because Urrutia's brother, 6-4 Maurice, is considered one of the state's best juniors.

Grutza likely would have committed to UK if given the chance. Instead, he liked what he saw at Cincinnati over the weekend and gave a verbal commitment to the Bearcats, who will be moving into the Big East.

Kentucky had offered Grutza a chance to grayshirt - sign in February but not enroll until January of 2005 so he would not count in this year's recruiting class. While he didn't like that idea, what turned him off even more about UK was the lack of contact with offensive coordinator Ron Hudson. Grutza's impression was that he was merely a backup plan for UK at quarterback in case the Cats didn't get other players they obviously wanted more. His fear was that he would be asked to move to defense at Kentucky, and he wants to play quarterback.

Alabama-Birmingham offered him a chance to play quarterback. Mississippi State had offered, and he was scheduled to visit there this weekend before making his commitment Sunday. Ball State, South Florida and Bowling Green were among the other schools most interested in Grutza, who would have seemed like a perfect fit in UK's offense because of his passing and running ability.

Brohm's decision not to come to UK Saturday was not a good sign for the Wildcats. Kentucky had hoped the chance to compete for a starting position next year might appeal more to Brohm than his family connections to Louisville, which returns starting quarterback Stephen Lefors and also has freshman quarterback-running back Michael Bush.

However, it would not be all that surprising to see Brohm commit to Louisville any day - and that upcoming decision may well have impacted the decision Urrutia just made to stay home and play for the Cardinals.

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