Football signs 25 for 2010; top 2 Ky. prospects pick Cats

Before UK football can win the battle on the gridiron, it had to win the battle in the homes of recruits.

The 2010 UK football recruiting class has officially taken shape after National Signing Day. The class includes the top-two Kentucky prospects and a four-star tight end, and was ranked 49th in the nation by

UK head coach Joker Phillips said he was looking for size, speed and athleticism when compiling his first recruiting class as head coach.

“The first phase of ‘Operation Win’ is recruiting,” Phillips said.  “We feel good about the class and how it ended up … This is a game within the game, recruiting is.  And we have to win this game of recruiting to get good quality players.”

Now that the ink is dry on incoming freshmen’s signatures, the newly-minted members of the team will be expected to help UK ascend the Southeastern Conference ranks. UK’s class was ranked 11th in the SEC, ahead of only Vanderbilt, according to

“Once we decide to offer someone a scholarship he’s somebody that we think can come in and help get this program to another level,” recruiting coordinator Chuck Smith said.  “Everybody that is coming to us is somebody that we really wanted.”

If homegrown talent is the lifeblood of the football program, UK received a sufficient transfusion of state talent. Linebacker Tim Patterson and running back Miles Simpson, who were ranked the No. 1 and No. 2 prospects in Kentucky, respectively, headline the incoming class. Patterson joins UK from Central High School in Louisville, following in the footsteps of Central products like Corey Peters, Mister Cobble and Ridge Wilson.

“The heart and soul of the program has to be the state of Kentucky,” Phillips said. “And we’ve got to be successful in the city of Louisville, and we feel that we have.”

Simpson, Brandon Gainer and Raymond Sanders comprise a three-player stable of big, physical running backs who can hold up in the SEC, Phillips said. All three are rated three-star backs, according to

“We’ve been searching for these types of backs for a long time,” Phillips said.  “We have two big backs in Gainer and Simpson. They can both get their shoulders downhill and punish people.”

Tight end Alex Smith, a four-star recruit according to, was a late commitment to the Cats. Phillips said he cited himself and his own situation when he told Smith to live out his dream of playing for UK.

“We’ve got to get kids like him, who have the passion and want to be here,” Phillips said. “We just had to bring it out of him, and we brought it out in the last hour.”

Six prospects gave commitments in the final 24 hours before it came time to officially sign the dotted line, and the Cats were vying for their signatures until the end. Phillips said that the coaching staff was “sweating it out” as the proverbial midnight of recruiting approached.

“It’s always nervous, you always want to know who’s in and who’s not,” Smith said.  “It’s a nerve-wracking deal.”