Quarterbacks Curtis Pulley of Hopkinsville and Brandon Smith of Boyle County have been as good as Buchanan expected. In fact, he says it's hard to put one above the other even though Pulley is the state's Mr. Football and headed to Kentucky while Smith will play at Western Kentucky.
He says Pulley and Smith both have many of the same intangible qualities that former Mason quarterback Dustin Grutza, who led Kentucky to a win last year, has.
"Curtis is an athlete, but he also is a good leader because he has great character," Buchanan said. "He also throws a good football. I think he's pretty similar to where Dustin was at this same stage when it comes to reading defenses. He seems to keep hitting the right guys.
"Everybody in Boyle County knows Brandon is just a winner. He makes the right reads and gets the ball to the right people. We feel good about them."
He's been pleased with all his running backs, including Danville's Kelvin Turner. He says Turner and Waggener's Alfonso Smith, another UK signee, have "speed and feet" like all great backs.
Not just the big-name players
It's not just the big-name players that have impressed him, either. Receivers Steve Garr of Male and Andrew Robinson of Manual have been consistent playmakers. Boyle's Greg Peck has shown he will be a threat at receiver.
Buchanan says Morehead "stole" linebacker Caleb Meenach of Boyd County and that running back Shawn Robbins of Bell County has been terrific. St. Xavier defensive lineman Joe Tronzo "gets after it" and Buchanan says Boyle defensive lineman Brandon Record "is a stud who just makes plays."
Buchanan credits the all-star selection committee for putting together a team with talent at each position.
"There are some guys we took who raised some eyebrows when they were named to the team, but they can play. On paper someone might have better numbers, but I am pleased with our team," Buchanan said. "Our selection committee did its homework. We have some guys that can flat-out play."
Kentucky's defensive line includes Ballard's Earl Heyman, Central's James McKinney and Elizabethtown's Brandon Deaderick. That could be the best front Kentucky has ever had and one college coach says all three have NFL potential.
"We have some good ones, but Heyman has really stood out. He's the real deal," Buchanan said.
Coaching staff includes French
Buchanan is having almost as much fun with his coaching staff. It includes Lincoln County coach Larry French, Buchanan's high school coach at Mercer, as well as John Buchanan, his father and the former head coach at Boyle and Mercer.
"How much better can it get? I can't describe what it is like to be on the all-star field with my dad and high school coach," Buchanan said. "It's almost like stepping back in time to 30 years ago. When I was little, I was on the field with those two guys a lot. They didn't listen to me 30 years ago, and they still don't now."
His top assistant, Paducah Tilghman coach Perry Thomas, will be the all-star coach next year. Buchanan has known him since Thomas coached at Allen County-Scottsville with former Boyle coach Chuck Smith.
Buchanan just hopes Kentucky has a four-game winning streak when he hands the coaching reins over to Thomas.
"We are playing a good team. It's not like Tennessee doesn't mind getting beat by Kentucky," Buchanan said. "They are taking steps to beat us. It will take everything we have to pull off this win, but I really like the team I have."