Wildcats Begin Practice in Birmingham

Jan. 4, 2011

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Coach Joker Phillips was pleased with his team's first practice in Birmingham, a two-hour workout Tuesday afternoon at Hoover High School, as the Kentucky football team hit the homestretch of preparations for Saturday's BBVA Compass Bowl matchup against the University of Pittsburgh.

"It went well," Coach Joker Phillips said.  "We had a lot of enthusiasm, love this weather.  Our guys guys practiced hard and got done what we went on the field to get done, which is continue to prepare for Pitt.  

Our guys are definitely ready to play.  This was our 14th practice (since the end of the regular season).  It's been like a spring practice. They've been beating on each other.  We're ready to go against some opposite color jerseys. 

"I think this has definitely helped us.  I really like the time (of the game),  going this late (Jan. 8).   It has given us a chance to get 14 practices in.  We'll get two more physical practices in.  We'll have a total of 16 practices and have a walk-through on Friday.  I really like the timing. It's given us a chance to develop some of the young kids, which is what we tried to do early.  Now we're focusing on getting ready for playing this game."

Phillips was asked to identify a player who he thinks might have made a big jump during the postseason practices.

"One guy that I think that has improved the most, will benefit the most from these practices, is (sophomore linebacker) Ridge Wilson.  He's been playing outstanding for us in these practices.  He's learning how to play.  He's a guy that really doesn't know how to go hard every play, so we've used this in trying to get him to understand that and push him."

Wildcats Visit Civil Rights Institute: After Tuesday's practice, the team visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, a learning center and museum that traces the journey that African-Americans made from the founding of Birmingham in the 1870s through today.  The BCRI has special emphasis on the turbulent decades of the 1950s and '60s, when the struggle for civil rights was at its peak.

Today's Wildcats had not been born when their parents and grandparents lived through those years.  Visiting the institute was an educational experience for the players.

"I've been looking forward to doing this," senior defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin said after the visit.  "There were a lot of things I didn't know.  To think about how simple it is (now) to sit on a bus and what people went through and endured (then).  It's a reality check to see how far we've come and where we are today.  I encourage everyone to visit."

The visit also left an impression on senior offensive lineman Marcus Davis.

"This reinforces for me what a big part Birmingham played in civil rights," Davis said.  "To see the remnants of the civil rights movement is a great learning experience."

"Cat Walk" Set for 8:45 a.m. Central time: Fans wishing to participate in the "Cat Walk," cheering the Wildcats when they enter the stadium at the BBVA Compass Bowl, should be at Gates 16 and 17 of Legion Field at 8:45 a.m. Central time.

Sideline Seats Available Through UK: Tickets are available to the BBVA Compass Bowl for both season-ticket holders and the general public.  Fans are encouraged to buy directly from the Kentucky ticket office, as all tickets from the UK allotment are sideline seats.  All tickets are $50 each.

Tickets may be purchased:

  • In-person at the UK Ticket Office in the Joe Craft Center, open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • By calling the ticket office during the hours listed above at 800-928-2287

'Operation Win' to Benefit Birmingham: To implement the 'Operation Win' initiative in the community, Coach Joker Phillips and the Cats plan to sponsor children from elementary schools around Legion Field, as well as Birmingham-area military personnel.  Building off the GAMEDAY READY tour that traveled around Kentucky this past summer, the Wildcats hope to give back to the Birmingham community by providing game tickets sponsored by Wildcat fans and supporters.

Fans can participate by:

  • Making a 100% tax-deductible contribution to the Operation Win Birmingham Fund
  • Contributions can be made in $50 increments - the cost of one BBVA Compass Bowl ticket
  • Ticket blocks will be donated to local Birmingham elementary schools and military personnel
  • Help provide an opportunity for youth to experience Kentucky football
  • Fans can make contributions to the Operation Win Birmingham Fund in addition to purchasing their BBVA Compass Bowl ticketsFans will receive three K Fund points for every $100 contribution
  • Fans will receive one K Fund point for a $50 contribution
  • The Operation Win drive will continue throughout December, as these tickets will be assigned separately from any priority ticket requests

To contribute to Operation Win Birmingham, fans may call the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287 or the K Fund Office at (859) 257-6300.