By LARRY VAUGHT
2:13 AM EST, February 5, 2012
He’s a three-star player, but more importantly for the Kentucky football program, Central Hardin defensive tackle Patrick Graffree is a five-star recruiter.
He was one of the players who signed with the Wildcats, but he did more than just commit to and sign with Kentucky. He actively promoted the UK football program even when the Cats struggled during the season, and was always on Twitter and Facebook connecting with fans and other potential recruits.
“Patrick Graffree, is he the type of kid that you want at Kentucky? All you have to do is follow him (on social media). He's going to give you information every day,” Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said. “He's a guy that's proud to be a Wildcat and not ashamed to show it. Patrick Graffree is proud to be a Wildcat.”
The 6-foot-4, 270-pound Graffree was a second-team all-state selection and was ranked as one of the state’s top 10 prospects. One recruiting service also ranked him as the nation’s 72nd-best defensive tackle.
“It's real important to grow your big guys close to home, I think that's real important,” Phillips said. “We have had success in doing that here. (Corey) Peters, (Myron) Pryor, (Garry) Williams, we have had guys that have had success here and not only success here but at the next level. It's real important for us, if we can, to grow our big guys close to home.”
It’s perhaps more important, though, to have a “big guy” commit to Kentucky so early and then go out of his way to sell others on that idea.
“He was on the phone, twittering or tweeting, calling guys. On Facebook. We told him we were going to put him to work and go and make your class as strong as you can possibly make it. That makes everybody better. He took the ball and ran with it as well as any kid I’ve ever been around,” Kentucky defensive line coach David Turner said.
Turner says Graffree’s enthusiasm is infectious and can only help the team.
“It means a lot. He is a kid that is proud to be a Kentucky Wildcat, and that says a lot. If we had 85 guys like him, I think we would probably be a little bit better,” Turner said. “He is really proud to wear the blue, and it means something to him. I am excited for the kid. Since he committed, I have talked to him every single day. I don’t think we have missed a day. It’s great we have that relationship.
“He is a young man that wants to be a really good player, too. I have tried to tell him he is going to have to work extremely hard. He says he is willing, but he really doesn’t know until he gets here what it will be about. But I love his attitude and what he brings to the table and I know he’s proud to wear the blue and white, so that means something special to me, too.”
Turner says his job know is to turn Graffree’s personality into a plus on the football field.
“Every kid has different personality. My job is to figure out what buttons to push to get them going,” Turner said. “I think that is why now that we are so limited in time that we can get out and evaluate kids that kids coming to camp like he did just makes it so much more important. You get to be around them, coach them, see how they move and adapt to coaching. You try to get on them a little bit and see how they accept it or duck their tail. He is the same every day. He is bright eyed, bushy tailed. He wants to work and be really good. He makes me a better coach because he is excited.”
But is there a chance he might worry the coach too much with his constant enthusiasm once he’s on campus?
“No, I think I can handle that part. I am not worried about that,” Turner laughed and said. “I hope for him, and just because of his personality, that he has a lot of success, and I know he will be successful in whatever he does in life.
“But he wants to be a great player and we want him to be a great player. He’s already done a lot to help us in recruiting, and he’ll keep doing that while he’s here. However, I think he can be a really good player, too.”
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