Collins Ukwu, Matt Smith Named 2012 Team Captains

Aug. 24, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips announced Friday that senior defensive end Collins Ukwu and senior center Matt Smith have been voted by the team as permanent captains for the 2012 season.

Phillips, who lets the players vote on the permanent team captains, said the vote this season was as close as he has ever seen with one or two votes separating Ukwu and Smith from a counterpart. The head coach said the close vote speaks to the overall leadership that UK has this season.

“It makes you feel really good when their peers nominated them to be captains and for it to be that close with some other guys,” Phillips said. “I feel really good about the leadership at the top and I have said that since day one. Usually, it is one guy about 15 votes ahead of the other one, but it wasn’t like that. We have some strong leadership on both sides of the ball. I also think that Craig McIntosh is one of those guys. He may have got my vote because of the type of leader that he is.”

Phillips also announced the senior defensive back Martavius Neloms and offensive lineman Larry Warford will join Ukwu and Smith as game captains for the Louisville game. Phillips will choose two additional game captains each week. Game captains are usually chosen on the basis of performance in the previous game.

As far as practice Friday, Phillips said the team is adjusting to the recent surge in humid temperatures the last few days. Overall, Phillips said the team knows practicing in more humid temperatures will help them down the road.

“The heat is coming at the right time,” Phillips said about the humid day in Lexington on Friday. “We have had really good weather throughout the training camp and the hot weather is coming right at the right time. Some of them are feeling it, but we have to push through it. Again, we have to understand why we have to be in this type of weather so when we get in the fourth quarter and are down seven with 64 yards to go and 2:27 left we are flawless. That is what we have to be.”

With 10 days remaining until the Wildcats open their season against Louisville, Phillips said the starting line on the depth chart is “penciled in.” He expects to finalize it this weekend.

“It is penciled (in) and we will put it in ink on Monday and go with that,” Phillips said. “We are going to play a lot of people because a lot of people deserve to play … We want to see if those guys are assignment sound this weekend. That is all this weekend is about is to find out if each person is assignment sound.”

Kentucky will hold a “mock scrimmage” Saturday, according to Phillips.