Cats believe a ‘rise’ is possible in the SEC

By Cody Porter

A team motto can bring a lot of meaning to a program, but for the most part it is likely that the players involved could care less and only see it as another tagline for themselves.

Last season the Cats went with the “Operation: Win” theme, but at the end of the season, the Cats lost more often than they won.

The music was still subpar, the energy of fans was lacking, the play on the field was at times disheartening and above all, it seemed as if the team wasn’t buying in at all times.

For UK, this season is different.

The newly founded “RISE” theme for the program has been taken to heart.

“I feel like that as a mentality, the kids bought in. That’s a theme that you don’t have to sell,” wide receivers coach Tee Martin said. “As coaches, that’s something you say, rise up, man up, step up, and that goes in line with where we want our players to go and be better.”

Not only have the players bought in to the motto, but Martin also said they are excited for all the changes being ushered in during the second year under head coach Joker Phillips.

One player sold on the new motto is sophomore wide receiver Brian Adams.

Having sat out last season because of an offseason blood clot, Adams has emerged as one of the most anticipated players on the receiving corps and buys in to “RISE.”

“You look at Kentucky in the past, you look at guys like Randall (Cobb), who didn’t come in as a highly rated guy,” Adams said. “We have a lot of guys here who weren’t necessarily rated that high out of high school but they come here, they work hard and we have the right people to develop our players and make those plays on the field. So that’s what we have to do as a team, everyone’s got to get the most out of each other and that’s why we’re going to be successful.”

Aside from new uniforms and video boards, little information is known about the motto’s founding, so what is the deeper meaning behind “RISE?”

“How I presented it to our players is, ‘It’s time to go to that next level of responsibility, the next level of work, the next level of expectations, going out there expecting to win as opposed to hoping or thinking we have a chance to win,’” Martin said.

Junior offensive guard Larry Warford may have answered the question even better when he simply said, “It brings us together.”

When asked where the fans come into play, Martin replied by saying, “(The fans) are the reason for it, they will actually be the biggest catalyst in ‘RISE’ because without our fans, we are nothing.”

“You would like to think that players come ready to play every Saturday, but realistically they’re 18, 19, they have emotional ups and downs,” Martin said. “I was a player myself before. Some days you don’t feel like doing it, but when you show up and the fans are there, and they’re helping you take it to that next level and getting you going, you sometimes perform better than you may have done it without their support.”

Come Sept. 10, everyone, including the Chippewas of Central Michigan, will have the answer to whether these new changes will bring the team and fans together to help UK “RISE.”