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Web Wednesday: First day of class edition

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Each Wednesday here at Cat Scratches, we're going to take a look back at the latest week's news in UK Athletics from around the web.

Best on the 'net

Track and field: Josh Nadzam no stranger to adversity (Erin Holaday Ziegler, UKNow)

Senior year in high school, Nadzam lost his best friend in a car accident, coming back from Spring Break at the beach. The small community of Monaca, Pa. was devastated and so was the town's premier athlete.

After graduation, Nadzam was looking for a way out of a self-described dysfunctional single-parent home in the projects outside of Pittsburgh.

While sports had always provided strong and steady support for the basketball and football player, at the end of Nadzam's high school tenure, he found his true path sophomore year on the track. And that path has changed his life.

"In high school, when we'd run the mile, I never really got tired," he explained. "Some of my friends told the new track coach about it, and that kind of got me into the sport."

Football: Ukwu now fits profile of SEC defensive end (Kyle Tucker, Louisville Courier-Journal)

Ukwu was 6-4 and 205 back then. He looked like a wide receiver maybe, but certainly not a Southeastern Conference defensive end. He was rated a two-star recruit by Rivals.com and had committed to Middle Tennessee State.

But Phillips saw a frame that could easily add more weight. He saw athleticism and instinct and a guy who set a record at his high school with 43 career tackles for loss.

"We want guys that are long and lean," Phillips said. "Throw them in the weight room and just see what they become."


Men's basketball: John Calipari's first season at UK the best of last decade (Steve Megargee, Rivals.com)

When Calipari arrived at Kentucky from Memphis, the nation's all-time winningest program was coming off season in which they had finished .500 in SEC competition and had settled for an NIT appearance. Calipari quickly transformed Kentucky into one of the nation's most feared programs again with his recruiting prowess. Before he ever coached a game for Kentucky, Calipari had made his presence felt by signing a recruiting class that featured future lottery picks John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe. That trio helped Kentucky go 35-3 overall and 14-2 in the SEC in Calipari's first season. All the Wildcats lacked was consistent perimeter shooting, which doomed them in an NCAA East Regional final loss to West Virginia.

Football: Cats go through dress rehearsal (Matt May, CatsPause.com)

The Cats wore their full game uniforms - which will be new this season - and went through all the paces, from pregame warm-ups to sudden change situations.

"It was a pretty good mock scrimmage, and that's what it was," Phillips said. "We don't get to have preseason games and that's what this was, a preseason game for us to try and make sure we get the game day organizations (right). How we stretch. How we take the field. The whole nine yards.

"I thought we were pretty sharp and fresh. We got a lot of different situations we went over and a lot of different personnel groupings we went over, a lot of different kicking situations and sudden changes."

Men's basketball: Jones, Lamb named to Vitale's All-Solid Gold teams (Dick Vitale, ESPN.com)

Football: 'Solid group' of running backs ventures into void (Jen Smith, Lexington Herald-Leader)

There are plenty of options available and the combinations of options are endless, the coaches say.

"I don't think we have one back that's head and shoulders above the rest of them," Phillips said. "We'll have two, three, maybe four backs that play for us. Because they're so talented, we'll probably (travel with) five, maybe even six backs to play special teams for us."

Former Wildcats making headlines

Enes Kanter may be simply unlucky (Wendell Maxey, Deseret News)

Kanter is focused on playing for Turkey, who won a silver medal over the United States at the 2010 World Championships. They return the majority of an NBA packed roster that includes Orlando's Hedo Turkoglu, Ersan Ilyasova formerly of the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago's Omer Asik, and Semih Erden from Cleveland.

"Playing for the Turkish National Team, there is a lot of pride at stake. You are playing with and against some real pros and I've learned a lot. It is really good for me. I'm feeling good and am just trying to get into game shape right now," said Kanter.

John Wall: 'I'm back' (Michael Lee, Washington Post)

John Wall smiled late Saturday night as he explained the relentless, aggressive, high-leaping, trash-talking model of himself that has been popping up on YouTube videos all summer. It was all over the floor at Trinity University -- where Wall scored 28 points and helped the local Goodman League defeat the Los Angeles-based Drew League, 135-134, in an East-West summer league showcase for bragging rights.

"I'm back. I'm back, man. I'm back to myself," Wall said after an electrifying performance. "Now I feel I can do whatever I want to do again, blow past people, get to the basket. I think those things that I started the season with last year, I got that back. It's coming back. You're going to see some stuff this year, it's just whenever -- hopefully the season starts as soon as possible. The main thing is just working on my game."

Randall Cobb could be out for Packers' opener (Tom Silverstein, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Green Bay Packers rookie Randall Cobb listed his prognosis as "day to day," but when asked whether it was a given he would be ready for the regular-season opener, he couldn't answer yes.

It might be that it's just difficult for Cobb to know how quickly he'll heal, but his doubts also might indicate the severity of his injury. He is listed as having contusions to both knees after getting slammed during a kickoff return Friday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

When asked whether he had bruises on both knees, he said, "It's an injury. But it won't be anything that will hinder me and (make) me miss a lot of time. We're taking it day by day right now and trying to get better each day."

Stevie Johnson serious about new top threat role (Wall Street Journal)

Ready or not, Johnson enters his fourth NFL season having suddenly ascended into the role as the Bills' prime receiving threat. And with that, he assumes the position of leader of what remains a relatively untested group of receivers on an offense that has a reputation for stumbling.

"Obviously, the attention's on me," Johnson said. "As long as I'm in this league, I'm going to have to prove myself over and over."

Alfonso Smith ready for opportunity (Seth Pollack, SBNation)

With rookie running back Ryan Williams down for the season, the spotlight now falls on undrafted free agent Alfonso Smith. Smith was with the team in camp last summer and on the practice squad during the season.

Smith said that he's been in this position before both in high school and college so he knows what it's like to take over for an injury player ahead of him in the depth chart. In college however, he felt he didn't take advantage of the situation and as a result didn't get enough carries and therefore wasn't drafted.

Alfonso has no intention of letting that happen again, "This is a dream come true. I'm going to come out here and work because this is for me, this is definitely for my family and my future so I've got to seize the opportunity."

News from UKathletics.com

Women's soccer: UK wins dramatic home opener

Football: Wildcats break camp, begin class Wednesday

Track and field: Dabbs named sprints coach

Women's basketball: UK announces 2011-12 schedule

Video of the week

New students arrived on campus last Friday and this weekend they gathered on the field of Commonwealth Stadium. In a feat of coordination and patience, the massive group was organized into a giant K and the video below is a time lapse of the entire process. Note how much more quickly the K disintegrates than comes together.

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