Battles for positions highlight spring football practices



Strolling the sidelines of Wednesday’s spring football practice was UK President Eli Capilouto.

“Dr. Capilouto is an old football player, he won a state championship at guard. He is very supportive of our players and he is a down-to-earth guy who just wanted to watch some football today,” UK football head coach Joker Phillips said.

More so, the president was seeing the competition of a young, growing team, which is something Phillips has mentioned several times already early in spring practice.

“There’s really good, healthy competition that everybody’s trying to help everybody.  Everybody’s headed in the same direction, we have the same goals, getting each other better,” he said. “Offense trying to get the defense better; defense trying to get the offense better.”

Phillips was vocal in making the point that the team needed to continue to practice at a fast tempo. The faster the team can practice means that they can get more reps in during their allotted practice time. Having such a young group of players, he said every snap is key.

“We have to continue to get more reps because we have a lot of young guys that need reps,” he said.

For returning players such as freshman running back Josh Clemons, getting the opportunity to feel how the speed of the game translates into improvements for starters and those further down the depth chart.

“Seeing those little things in the game that you need to work on, you just need to focus on out there in practice even though the competition might not be as good because of your scout teams,” Clemons said.

The wide receiver position for 2012 is contested.

Even though juniors like La’Rod King, E.J. Fields and Gene McCaskill currently sit atop the depth chart, it’s the freshmen Daryl Collins, Demarco Robinson and Bookie Cobbins who are among those who have also stood out to the Cats’ returning starting quarterback in freshman Max Smith.

And with that gap in experience, the Cats’ 2011 football season was no stranger to on-field chemistry issues after they rotated between Smith and junior quarterback Morgan Newton.

Having the opportunity to see their various passers is one benefit that King sees for himself and the other receivers during spring practice.

“You get adjusted to all the quarterbacks early. That way, all the timing chemistry is down so we can have a good, productive fall camp,” King said.