CB Cartier Rice may crack rotation
It is the time of the year when the UK football recruits are getting ready for enrollment in the summer school program for potential freshmen football players. The early college enrollment was instituted by the NCAA a couple years ago for the sole purpose of getting freshmen indoctrinated to the college atmosphere.
The all-unknowing youngster, upon arrival on campus, quickly comes to the realization that it is a very important period in his introduction to college football. He can find his way around the campus and get a taste of the classroom.
Since the inception of the policy, UK freshmen for the most part have had strong participation in infusing themselves with the upperclassmen in summer workouts. By the way, everything about college football is a hot-coals trek from Friday nights to Saturday afternoons. What, a shock?
It’s not that they don’t have an outward glance of what to expect upon arrival because they are sent a workout regimen to follow after signing date. But for them there’s no way to gauge the dedication and intensity required to play at the college level until they arrive at the university.
In most cases, it’s very physically telling for those that don’t choose to report early. During fall camp they suffer nagging injuries - such things as hamstrings pulls, strained groins, sprained ankles, bruised shoulders and the like. Those youngsters that have conditioned their bodies for the grind, usually endure fall camp much better. And for those that have designs on cracking the rotation or starting lineup, they are ahead of the game.
One of the very early arrivals - late May - last summer was Moncell Allen. Early June is the normal time. His early arrival acclimated Allen and put him in position to compete and make a strong run for a starting spot at the tailback position. Until he suffered a broken hand, he was the rave of fall practice in 2007.
Two of the recruits chomping at the bit to crack the rotation and possibly start are South Carolina cornerback Cartier Rice and quarterback/wide receiver Matt Roark. Rice was regarded as one of the best shutdown corners in South Carolina. In the South Carolina Shrine Bowl, he was the cornerback that typically guarded the opponent’s best receiver with great results, including the No. 2 wide receiver prospect in the nation in the State Championship game, University of Georgia signee A. J. Green of Summerville, South Carolina. In 2006, he also went against No.1 wide receiver nationally Julio Jones in the 7-7 passing league tournament in Hoover, Alabama. “I like that kind of competition,” Rice said.
Does all of that mean that Rice will crack the rotation? Given the quality starters and depth at the cornerback position already at Kentucky, Rice will have a difficult time becoming and immediate starter but perhaps cracking the rotation could be feasible.
Of the four or five potential receiver prospects that will arrive on campus, Joker Phillips said he expects at least two of those to contribute substantially. One of those prospects is Matt Roark, 6-foot-6, 200-pounds from North Cobb High School of Actworth, Georgia. Roark played the quarterback position his junior and senior years at North Cobb, which is twenty minutes from Atlanta. He only played safety his sophomore year. He accounted for 54 touchdowns last season, 25 passing and 27 running.
“Roark is one of the two top kids I have ever coached,” head coach Shane Queen said, who coached Kenny McKinney that ran the wide-out position at South Carolina. McKinney was also a quarterback in high school that Steve Spurrier looked at and quickly determined him to be a natural wide receiver. Queen said - “Roark runs the forty in 4.55 and has a lot of shake and bake. UK has come in here and gotten a gem and he is a good kid with a good mom and dad.” The youngster has a reputation as a hard worker and possesses a 275-power-clean lift.
This crop of youngsters will see tougher times attempting to crack the rotation but as per usual, freshmen need to give themselves a chance by getting into the mix as early as possible.