Welcome to Saturday, Big Blue Nation. The last leg of the Triple Crown has arrived.
Only eight thoroughbreds will be running at Belmont Park, but the action should still be thrilling. However, that is not the only thing going on with football recruiting ramping up to go along with the basketball team continuing their tour throughout the Bluegrass State.
Let’s get caught up to speed.
Football recruiting ramps up
The NCAA ended their dead period on Tuesday, and now every college football program can have prospective student-athletes on campus for visits, evaluations and to participate in camp drills. Kentucky hosts their first big camp on Sunday, but some important recruiting developments have occurred since Tuesday.
Immediately, Kentucky’s staff had blue-chip receiver Dane Key on campus for a visit as the program wants the Lexington (Ky.) Frederick Douglas product to stay home. Meanwhile, KSR spoke with Frederick Douglas head coach Nathan McPeek to get an update on Key’s recruitment.
— Dane Key (@DaneKey12) June 3, 2021
“He said it went really well,” McPeek said. “Obviously, it’s a university that’s doing really really well with Coach Stoops and all the success that they’ve had. I know that he’s obviously really good friends with [Jager Burton] and Dekel [Crowdus] going over there. I think it went well. I know he’s got a few other visits lined up to go check out this month but they’re still playing baseball so he’s been kinda tied up with that. All indications, he told me that it went really well. It’s not like he doesn’t know the place.”
Elsewhere, the Wildcats made an early impact on 2023 defensive lineman AJ Hoffler. Stay tuned throughout the weekend for updates on Sunday as well as an episode of 11 Personnel to recap Kentucky’s first true football camp in two seasons.
Junior Keion Brooks
For the first time since the season ended, Keion Brooks Jr. met with the media on Friday to discuss his return and how the team will look next year. The Indiana native was unsure what all the buzz was about regarding his decision.
“I don’t know where all the hoopla and speculation came from, probably because I didn’t come out and announce it,” said Brooks. “To me, it’s not really a big deal. I don’t see why I should have to announce I’m coming back to school, but I mean, I guess that’s what people look for now. My head was just down in the gym, in the weight room, working on my conditioning, trying to get back to being 100 percent.”
After a disappointing season, the veteran forward is looking to be a leader for the 2021-22 squad. The Wildcats will lean heavily on the 6-foot-7 veteran to play plenty of minutes at the four. Brooks appears to be ready for the challenge.
Chris Collins is introduced
Speaking of meeting with the media, Kentucky football used Friday to introduce their final hire of the offseason. Georgia State secondary coach and recruiting coordinator Chris Collins became an official assistant coach for the Wildcats this week. Collins met with the media and explained what the defensive backs coach will bring to Lexington.
Veterans could equal consistency
This offseason, Kentucky added four transfers to their program and each comes to Lexington with some experience. These additions join a group that returns some pieces off of last year’s team. This will be one of John Calipari’s oldest squads at Kentucky, and assistant coach Jai Lucas is hoping that will turn into more consistent results on the hardwood.
“The biggest change we’re looking forward to seeing is, when you get older guys, you get this feeling that you can be more consistent,” UK assistant coach Jai Lucas said Thursday. “Them having played so many games, when you get guys like Kellan Grady, CJ [Fredrick], Sahvir [Wheeler], and you add them in with Keion [Brooks Jr.], Davion [Mintz] depending on what he decides to do, that’s something you can be excited about.”
Kentucky, of course, is still awaiting an official decision from Mintz but there is going to be plenty of experience on the roster this season. This will be a change of pace.
At 6:49 E.T. on NBC, the 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes will take place on NBC. Earlier this week, our own Nick Roush wrote up a quick preview for this race that goes 1.5 miles turning into the biggest endurance test in horse racing. With only eight horses competing, this year’s edition is totally up for grabs.
Here are the current odds:
1. Burbonic (15/1)
2. Essential Quality (2/1)
3. Rombauer (3/1)
4. Hot Rod Charlie (7/2)
5. France Go De Ina (30/1)
6. Known Agenda (6/1)
7. Rock Your World (9/2)
8. Overtook (20/1)