Wildcats Back on the Field

April 1, 2009

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Clad in helmets, jerseys and shorts, the Kentucky football team was greeted by sunny skies and cool temperatures as the Wildcats went through their first day of spring practice Wednesday morning at the Nutter Training Center.

Taking the field for the first time since Jan. 2, when UK defeated East Carolina in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the Wildcats showed excellent spirit and purpose.

“It was a pretty good day for the start of spring ball,” Coach Rich Brooks said. “I think assignment-wise, except for some young players, I think everybody knows what they're doing and things went pretty well today.

“This is the fun time of my job, being on the field with these young men, and trying to get them better at their positions and techniques. There is great enthusiasm among our team and now we have to polish things and get better.”

Full evaluation, of course, can only happen when the full pads are on, but one facet that can be judged in jerseys and shorts is the team's athleticism. Brooks is happy with what he sees in that department.

“It's a long way from what it was when we got here (in 2003),” Brooks said. “We don't have very many guys who can't run and that includes our linemen. Overall, the preparation and conditioning are pretty good for this team.”

Warford out for Spring: Coach Rich Brooks announced that cornerback Paul Warford has sustained a broken bone in his foot and will miss spring practice. The injury is expected to heal in time for Warford to participate in summer workouts.

A junior from Richmond, Ky., Warford was a starter during the 2007 season. He is attempting to regain his regular role after redshirting the 2008 season.

Welcome Back, Brandon: Perhaps the most gratifying moment of Wednesday's opening practice was simply seeing linebacker Brandon Thurmond on the field.

A junior from Rex, Ga., Thurmond was in action for the first time in two years since sustaining three injuries on the same knee since the spring of 2007. He will participate in non-contact drills during the spring while his knee continues to heal.

“It was magical, honestly,” Thurmond said of returning to practice. “I love it with all my heart I'm just out there having fun.

“I made sure that I am physically, mentally and emotionally ready to actually become a factor and take part in what's about to happen this year. I want to be flawless in my reads, coverage, (and) being able to know my responsibilities. Even though I won't be able to take part in physical contact, having those mental reps (repetitions) and making sure I'm in position to make a play, when I'm actually able to have contact it'll be natural and I can contribute.”

“It was good to see Brandon running around,” Coach Rich Brooks said. “He covered well in 7-on-7 and showed good movement, so I'm pleased. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that when we ratchet it up he'll be ready to go.”

Spring Practice Calendar: Practices are open to media and fans. Practices held at the Nutter Training Facility unless noted otherwise. Practices might be moved indoors to the Nutter Field House in case of bad weather.

Fri. April 3 9 to 11:15 a.m. (confirmed)
Sat. April 4 2 to 4:30 p.m. (tentative)
Mon. April 6 9 to 11:15 a.m. (tentative)
Wed. April 8 9 to 11:15 a.m. (tentative)
Fri. April 10 9 to 11:15 a.m. (tentative)
Sat. April 11 10 to 11:40 a.m., Commonwealth Stadium (tentative)
Mon. April 13 9 to 11:15 a.m. (tentative)
Wed. April 15 9 to 11:15 a.m. (tentative)
Fri. April 17 9 to 11:15 a.m. (tentative)
Sat. April 18 10 to 11:40 a.m., Commonwealth Stadium (tentative)
Mon. April 20 9 to 11:15 a.m. (tentative)
Wed. April 22 9 to 11:15 a.m. (tentative)
Fri. April 24 9 to 11:15 a.m. (tentative)
Sat. April 25 Blue/White Spring Game, 1:30 p.m., Commonwealth Stadium