Phillips a Hit at UK Alumni Luncheon in Louisville

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky football head coach Joker Phillips entertained a record-breaking crowd of alumni and fans with his thoughts on the upcoming season, along with amusing stories from his first year as head coach of the Wildcats, at the Jefferson County UK Alumni Luncheon in Louisville on Wednesday.

“We want to have a huge presence here in the city of Louisville,” Phillips said. “For us to have a chance to come here and do a luncheon with the Louisville alumni is big for us. We have over 15 players from the city of Louisville and therefore we feel we are making a pretty good presence here.”

Phillips addressed the crowd of more than 800 at the Kentucky International Convention Center, reportedly the largest attendance ever for the event. The head coach spoke mostly about his “Operation: Win” initiative to win in the classroom, win in the community and win on the field.

The UK alum told his fellow alumni the improvements the team has made in the classroom, raising the team GPA. Phillips also talked about the several community service projects team has done, most recently helping the Eastern Kentucky flood victims through the Christian Appalachian Project. Finally, Phillips said they want to win on the field and not only win games but win championships.

“We are trying to sell our plan of ‘Operation: Win’ and let everybody know what has been going on since January, 6, when we took over this program,” said Phillips who met with the media before the luncheon. “We know the excitement is building out in the community but I want everybody to know that the excitement is building on our football team also.”

Phillips did break some news, naming several freshmen and a pair of junior-college transfers that he thinks will see playing time if, he said, “the season started today.” The list included freshman linebackers Jewell Ratliff and Avery Williamson, freshman kicker Joe Mansour, junior-college safeties Mychal Bailey and Josh Gibbs, freshman tight end Tyler Robinson, freshman defensive tackle Donte Rumph, freshman defensive end Nermin Delic, freshman cornerback Jerrell Priester and freshman running backs Raymond Sanders and Brandon Gainer.

Locke Named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List: University of Kentucky senior tailback Derrick Locke has been named to the Doak Walker Award Watch List, which is presented annually to the nation’s top college running back.

Locke, a native of Hugo, Okla., led UK in rushing last season with 907 yards and six touchdowns. In his career at Kentucky, Locke has gained 1,731 rushing yards, good for 10th on Kentucky’s all-time rushing list. The native of Hugo, Okla., is in the Kentucky history books as the only player in school history to have two 100-yard kickoff returns in a career. He enters the season holding the UK career record for kickoff returns with a 27.4-yard average. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound tailback is also dangerous in the passing game, catching 31 passes for 284 yards last season, including two catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns in UK’s road win against Georgia.

The field of candidates is highlighted by the nation’s leading returning rusher, Dion Lewis from Pitt; 2009 Doak Walker Award finalist and Heisman Trophy recipient, Mark Ingram from the University of Alabama; and Ryan Williams from Virginia Tech who ranked third nationally and led the ACC in rushing last season.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers SMU Athletic Forum Board of Directors will select the semifinalists on November 10, and the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee will cast votes to determine the finalists, who will be announced on November 22. The Committee will cast a second vote beginning on November 29 to determine the recipient. The National Selection Committee consists of former NFL All-Pro and college All-America running backs, media members and selected special representatives.

The recipient of the 2010 Doak Walker Award will be announced live on ESPN on The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards on Thursday, December 9.

The award, in its 21st year, is named for SMU’s three-time All-America running back Doak Walker. It is the only major collegiate award that requires all candidates to be in good academic standing and on schedule to graduate within one year of other students of the same classification.