And he does it all without a left arm….
It’s a sorry, sorry day for birthdays and Matt is on the road, so that means that I’m going to steal some time here and talk a little baseball. UK’s own Brandon Webb notched 19th victory of the season with seven shutout innings against the Padres, putting himself in the driver’s seat (back off CC!) for his second Cy Young Award in three seasons. I’ve mentioned this before on this site and I’ll probably mention it again, but Brandon Webb needs to get a little more love on the national level. Granted, he doesn’t play for the Red Sox or Yankees, but you’d think that a guy who has gone 53-22 since the start of 2006 would be more of a household name. Plus, he’s still letting me dream that my spring training prediction of a Diamondbacks World Series title might actually be a possibility. Of course, that’s as long as they don’t find themselves toe-to-toe with the my newest love – my hometown Tampa Bay Rays.
Now, on to the UK news…
(1) Obviously, the biggest news of the day was the press conference and commitment of Carmel, Ind. quarterback Morgan Newton. Newton is ranked by Scout.com as a 5-star player and by Rivals as a 3-star and, with his verbal, gives UK two big-time quarterback commitments in the class of 2009. Newton is just about the same size as previous commit Ryan Mossakowski, but he brings the Cats a different type of player. His arm might not be as jaw-droppingly powerful (it’s still very strong) as Mossakowski’s, but he makes up for it with mobility and guarantees talent under center for Kentucky well into the Joker Phillips era. As huge as it was to get Mossakowski out of Texas and from the hands of a handful of major schools, snatching Newton away from Florida – and Clemson to a lesser degree – might be just as solid for Rich Brooks and Co.
But, what should not be underestimated in this rash of commitments is the importance of quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders. Both players cited the development of Andre Woodson under Sanders after their commitment and having the greatest quarterback on the planet (Peyton Manning) vouch for his ability to coach the position certainly gives the Cats an ace in the hole when recruiting. Keeping guys like Sanders, Phillips, and running backs coach Larry Brinson, who all have been successful in developing solid relationships with high school players, on the staff make it likely that Kentucky’s recruiting will continue to improve. But, let’s keep it all in perspective. Kentucky now has two players rated 4-stars or better in this class, but Florida had 16 last year alone. Kentucky must continue to develop players as well as they have under Brooks in order to remain competitive.
(2) You know that I’m not one to exaggerate things, so I feel completely comfortable hyping this up as the finest thing ever written outside of the Mighty Ducks Trilogy. Today on Deadspin, Kentucky Sports Radio’s good friend Clay Travis finally wrote about his trip to Kige Ramsey’s YouTube Sports studio in Russellville and it was nothing short of amazing. If you only put off enough work today to read one thing, then make it is Travis’ post. And, if you’re a Louisville fan, go ahead and find someone to read it to you.
(3) A story that got a bit lost in the wave of outstanding posts from the original cast of writers for this site was a Lexington jury awarding the family of slain former UK football player Trent DiGiuro $63.4 million in a settlement. The verdict, which is one of the largest civil judgements in Kentucky history, likely signals the end of an ongoing legal struggle between DiGiuro’s family and Shane Ragland, who plead guilty last year to shooting DiGiuro in 1994 and was sentenced to time served. The DiGiuro’s expect to get very little of settlement from Ragland and is mostly symbolic, but the majority of what is payed will go to the Trent DiGiuro Memorial Scholarship which assists student athletes at UK and at all of the Oldham County high schools. You can make a donation here.
(4) Another story that got lost, but was posted a few times in the comments, was the success of G.J. Vilarino on the adidas Nations team. G.J. catches a lot of hell on this site and others, but it’s good to see the youngster playing well. Hopefully, he’ll keep up the solid play and all of this “is he UK-caliber?” talk will be laid to rest under a few years of solid play. If not, my head might explode before he ever gets on campus.
(5) Pretty much the same old story out of the UK football practices, with the only notable news being the move of redshirt freshman Anthony Mosley from wide receiver to defensive back. Mosley is exceptionally fast and doesn’t have a lot of football under his belt (he started playing as a junior in high school) so moving him to a new position shouldn’t be like re-inventing the wheel.
That’s it for now. More throughout the day including some stuff about UK presented in a ridiculous manner, some recognition for a couple of warriors of the comments section and a KSR original comes back like Jordan, wearin’ the 4-5. See you in a few…