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Web Wednesday - Wall-to-wall football 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


So what exactly is Phillips excited about? Where specifically can he see the Wildcats being better in 2012?

He's glad you asked.

"I'm really excited about the defensive line depth," Phillips said. "The defensive line should be the strength of our defense, should be the strength of our football team."

Football: UK football walk-on Mikie Benton now a starter (Jennifer Smith, Lexington Herald-Leader)

Twice early in his time at UK, the senior safety didn't make the final cut on the 105-man roster. Twice, the former track standout from Russellville thought about quitting football altogether.

"There were plenty of times I got down on myself," he admitted earlier this summer.

But the second time he missed the cut, he vowed it would never happen again.

Football: Kentucky football happy to be crowded in backfield (Kyle Tucker, The Courier-Journal)

It's no surprise that he and the Wildcats feel much better about the position this preseason. Two heralded freshmen have joined the top four rushers from last season, who combined for 1,128 yards.

"Because of the amount of experience we've had at that position ... then the quality of the two guys coming in, that's why we were so excited about that position," head coach Joker Phillips said. "It just made that position a deeper position."

Football: UK's freshman wide receivers catching on quickly (Jennifer Smith, Lexington Herald-Leader)

UK is going to need some help at wide receiver, a position where it struggled last season when the Cats gained just 135.6 yards a game through the air.

UK's 4.8 yards per pass and 9.5 yards per catch were the lowest of this decade. The only bright spot was La'Rod King and his 40 catches for 598 yards and seven touchdowns.

Only two other returnees (E.J. Fields and Gene McCaskill) caught a pass for a score last season.


"Everybody is trying to learn names right now and the quickest thing they can go to is 'Little Newton' or 'Morgan's little brother' or 'Lil Newton,'" Langston said. "So right now, it's funny to hear all the variations of 'Little Newton' you get."
 
If Langston has his way, it won't be long before UK fans start thinking of him independent of his relation to Morgan, who has started 17 games in three seasons for UK and is competing for the starting quarterback job this fall.

Football: Freshman Jalen Whitlow wants to show coaches that he is a quarterback (Larry Vaught, Danville Advocate-Messenger)

He has the talent to play several positions and is the forgotten player most of the time on the team's quarterback depth chart. Yet there's no doubt in Jalen Whitlow's mind about what his best position is.

"Quarterback. That is my best position. My natural position is quarterback," said the Kentucky freshman from Prattville, Ala. He says he could play receiver, Wildcat quarterback or even cornerback or safety "if they (UK's coaches) made me" in certain situations.

However, he knows where he wants to play and believes he will play despite the presence of senior Morgan Newton, sophomore Maxwell Smith and true freshman Patrick Towles, Kentucky's Mr. Football last season, on the quarterback depth chart.

Football: Observations and conclusions on the quarterback decision (Corey Tincher, StraitCats.com)

In a simple world, Morgan Newton would be the obvious choice. He's the heralded recruit, he's a senior with years of experience, and he's familiar with the system. Unfortunately for Newton, there's the whole issue of last season. Newton was miserable at best and that misery was only shortened by injury before sophomore Max Smith took over. Smith didn't exactly excel, but he performed more-than-admirably for a freshman, and turned some heads in the process. Morgan Newton's starting position shouldn't even be in question, it's just common sense. If it weren't for performance on the field, that is.

Basketball: Kentucky College Basketball Title Brings 40% Rise in Royalties (Eben Novy-Williams, Bloomberg News)

University of Kentucky royalties from licensed merchandise sales rose 40 percent in the past year, helped largely by the school's eighth college basketball national championship.

Merchandise royalties at the Lexington-based school, which won the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament title in April, grew to $6.73 million in the 12 months ended June 30 from $4.80 million the previous year, according to Jason Schlafer, the senior associate athletic director for corporate and university relations.

Former Wildcats making headlines

Dawson center of attention at Hall of Fame (Teresa Varley, Steelers.com)

Dawson, along with Jack Butler, became the latest Steelers inducted into the Hall of Fame, with a Pittsburgh crowd on hand to cheer him on.

"I am almost at a loss for words being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame," said Dawson. "This is an incredible honor and I feel very privileged and humbled. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be standing here before you on this stage in Canton, Ohio among all of these great players."

Bulls finally sign top pick Teague (K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune)

In a move the Bulls will announce soon, first-round pick Marquis Teague has signed his rookie contract and will travel from his hometown of Indianapolis to Chicago to begin workouts.

"It feels good to finally get it out of the way," Teague said in a phone interview. "I just want to get in the gym and start working out."

John Wall to assist President Obama (Michael Lee, Washington Post)

Since arriving in Washington two years ago, John Wall has been unable to persuade President Obama to watch him play at Verizon Center but the Wizards point guard is still prepared to help the Baller-in-Chief stick around for another term. Wall will join Michael Jordan and several current and former NBA stars in fundraiser on Aug. 22 for Obama's get reelection campaign.

The Obama campaign announced on Tuesday that it would hold a benefit shoot-around at New York's Chelsea Piers sports complex featuring several NBA stars, followed by a fundraising dinner hosted by Jordan later in the evening.

News from UKAthletics.com







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