Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kragthorpe Missing Out on Local Talent

Watching the St. X/Trinity game on Friday, I saw about 5 guys that could help many D-1 programs, including our beloved Louisville Cardinals. After doing a little research and asking around, I found out that the Cards are only really going after one of those players: St. X RB Deuce Finch (left, no commitment, but does have Louisville on his list). I'm sure they were after Trinity LB Jordan Whiting (right), but he is gone to Ohio St., something that with the right recruiting tactics should never happen. Coach Kragthorpe preaches about getting good-guys that take pride in wearing the Red Rage uniform. Yet there were 3-4 guys on the field from two classy programs that would fit the criteria and commit immediately after an offer, that Krag is leaving blowing in the wind. Trinity's RB Tim Phillips and DE Brock Messina along with St. X's DB DJ Hall, DE Trevor Foy (Purdue) all play at a high level and would likely be humbled by a scholly offer from Coach K. Nevertheless, Kragthorpe has less than 10 commitments (compared to 20+ for the Mildcats) and he has what I believe to be a wealth of talent right under his nose.

I'll be the first to admit Kentucky is not the hot-bed for football recruits that Texas or Florida is. However, there are 5-10 guys every year that can compete well in big-time BCS football. Plus, I can spend all day talking about local kids who stayed and went on to lead us to bowl wins. Mike Bush and Brian Brohm helped the Cards to our most successful years ever. Not saying any of the local talent compares, but guys like Ibn Green, Earl Heyman, and Miguel Montano (who weren't as sought after) all stayed home and had awesome careers with the Cards. The transition to college is much easier when you can still go to Mom's house to get a good meal or do laundry, making it much easier to focus on the transition from HS to D-1 football. If I had to pick our most valuable players currently I'd say Beaumont, Anderson, Cantwell and Heyman. All are from Kentucky. I will give Kragthorpe credit for landing Dexter Heyman, Victor Anderson and Doug Beaumont, which should prove the point since they joined the starting lineup immediately.

One would think that might start a domino effect, yet it doesn't seem that way. Whiting and Male's Justin Green have already said they are going to Ohio St. I know it's hard to compete with the Buckeyes, yet in years past we have been able to get the top talent to stay home even though they were being recruited by the perennial juggernauts Trinity's Tim Phillips, a national champion power lifter who's only downfall is his 5'6 height, committed to Central Michigan after hearing nothing from the team he roots for. I hate bringing it up, but Bobby Petrino would not have let any of these 3 guys go anywhere. Whiting and Phillips play on the same team as Kragthorpe's son, Brad, at Trinity. Phillips wasn't offered, but says he would have second thoughts about the Chippewas if UL offered. How these guys got away completely baffles me. It seems like they are right there for the taking.

The best evaluator of prep talent around here, the Courier-Journal and 93.9 The Ticket host Jody Demling, wrote a blog post just yesterday about St. X safety D.J. Hall (left) , who had a big INT in Friday's win, would LOVE to stay home and play for Louisville, but hasn't been offered. St. X coach Mike Glaser went on to to say: "I can't believe the University of Louisville hasn't offered him a scholarship yet, but if they want a great one, he is a great one." I can tell you by watching him on Friday first hand, Hall is just as good as anyone in our secondary that isn't named Johnny Patrick or maybe Lattarius Thomas. Again, extremely baffling that a stud that wants to come might get away because our coach doesn't think he's good enough. Given the current state of the defensive backfield, we need all the help we can get. Hall doesn't have the NFL "me first" attitude, he would take pride in wearing the jersey and play hard as a result.

Going by the Rivals Top 10, Louisville has a total of ZERO commits from this year's class compared to 4 for UK, 2 for Ohio St. and 1 for Purdue. This does not bode well for the Cards. Even if it's a down year, we should at least have one. This could ripple into the next couple of years. Just like you or me, most kids follow guys they know and have played with. For example, UK's Myron Pryor (Louisville Central) is tearing up in Lexington which had to help lead to commitments from current Central standout LB Ridge Wilson and lineman Mister Cobble. The same can be said for Louisville, who rode the Louisville Male pipeline for close to 10 years from Chris Redman to Beaumont. It is imperative we do not lose these guys to UK or anyone else. I understand a couple might slip away, but not all of them.

Kragthorpe could build the foundation of his team with Kentucky players and still go out and get a Harry Douglas or Amobi Okoye from out of state. This 10+ JUCOs a year business has to stop. About 1 out of 10 work out successfully. Local/In-State talent has a much better production rate, all the while helping develop relationships with local coaches and youngsters. I see us getting away from something that helped put us in national prominence in the first place. The combination of the unattractive product on the field and failure to land the top local talent could make the hole we are in already get deeper. Warren East's LB/RB Shernard Holton is currently the only in-state player the Cards have landed.

DJ Hall needs an offer soon. Phone calls need to be made to Deuce Finch at every legal time. Tim Phillips needs to be asked to rethink his commitment. Coaches Kragthorpe, Brohm and English need to show there faces at games. The golden goose of local talent can not be lost. If it is, it might be hard for the Cards to regain the luster that has been gone for the last 18 months. A Deuce Finch/DJ Hall combo commitment would be a good start.

All photos from Courier-Journal...thanks

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