Wildcats Flash Back to August

Dec. 22, 2008

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The outside temperatures are hardly summer-like, but the Kentucky football team had a flashback to August with two-a-day practices on Monday.

The Wildcats worked out for 90 minutes Monday morning in the climate-controlled Nutter Field House and will go for another 90 minutes in the afternoon.

“It's a little different schedule, obviously, not as much time before we break for Christmas because finals were later this year,” Coach Rich Brooks said.  “That's why we're having a two-a-day today.”

Brooks noted that how the team approaches practice is important when there is a month layoff between the end of the regular season and the bowl game.

“I think they continue to have fun with practice,” Brooks said.  “Sometimes players take practice as pure drudgery and maybe don't want to do it with enthusiasm.  So far, the guys have taken it this year the same way they've taken it for two years, that it's an honor and a privilege to be able to practice at this time of year and it's exciting to go to a bowl game.”

Meanwhile, a couple of Wildcat rookies in the National Football League had big moments on Sunday as wide receivers Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson each caught a touchdown pass.  Burton caught his first NFL touchdown for St. Louis, a 30-yarder vs. San Francisco.  Johnson snagged a TD in Buffalo's win over Denver, his second score of the season. 

The former Wildcats' success comes as no surprise to Brooks.

“They got into a situation where they were able to showcase their ability,” Brooks said.  “If they stay healthy, they're going to be big-time players for a lot of years in that league.”

Another first-year NFL Wildcat, linebacker Wesley Woodyard, totaled 45 tackles and an interception while starting a recent six-game stretch when a veteran was injured.

“Yeah, we had some pretty good players last year, didn't we?” Brooks laughed when asked about Woodyard.  Brooks, whose 10 years in the NFL included a term as head coach of St. Louis, also was asked how Woodyard – the SEC's leading tackler in 2007 – went undrafted.

“I was shocked he wasn't drafted,” Brooks said.  “For some reason, they just felt he was too small, I guess, and it's hard to judge the size of a guy's heart as well as his desire.”

In addition to Monday afternoon's practice, the Wildcats will go again on Tuesday before taking off for the holidays.  The team will gather in Memphis on Dec. 27 and begin final preparations for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, which will be played on Jan. 2.