A Very Versatile Wildcat
If Paul Calhoun was graded due to his '84 performance in a blue and white uniform, then the Louisville Bishop David product probably would earn an "A" from the SEC coaches. The all-SEC punter of a year ago had an outstanding senior season for the 8-3 Birmingham-bound Cats. Last season Calhoun netted a 43.2 yard mark in which he improved this year, punting for a 44.5 final clip. But the senior executed extremely well at the safety position, intercepting a total of seven passes (two short of UK the record held by Jerry Claiborne). Calhoun ended the year with 61 tackles - 41 first-hitters and 20 assists.
Celts' Pause Coluirmbi
The high marks Calhoun earned this year may be good enough to pursue a pro career in either the NFL or USFL. Though it's something Calhoun, a business major, really hasn't thought about right now.
"It's something you have to wait on and see how things come out," said the upperclassman. "Anything can happen either now or later. If I get a chance I will definitely like to try out for the pros. If the chance doesn't come then that's fine too."
However, that chance Calhoun was referring to may be of worthy consideration.
St. Louis Cardinal scout Matt Lair, a former player for UK in 1946 and 1947, indicated that the 6-foot-2, 200-pound defensive back may have a shot of making it in the professional ranks. "I haven't seen him since early in the season." noted Lair before the Florida-UK game a couple of weeks ago. "I thought then he was doing a pretty good job. He's been playing pretty good as a safety.
Though Lair mentioned Calhoun's 4.7/40 speed may hinder the pro prospect if he expects to play the defensive position. But on the other hand Lair stated that Calhoun's alertness is what makes him so valuable. The pro scout mentioned that a player without blazing speed could be a pro defensive back, "if he's got a good feel for the ball and has the instincts to get away with it (not having exceptional speed)."According to Lair, Calhoun has that ability.
His position coach this season, Chip Garber.is impressed with Calhoun's ala punter-safety versatility.
"He's a good smart player," said Garber. "He's like having another coach on the field. Paul is not going to do anything to hurt your defense. "I don't think he'll be a high draft choice. (But) he can play two positions. Here's someone that can punt for you and also be a backup safety."
If he makes it in either professional league the Louisville native indicated that he would like to play both positions.
"I would like to try both," he said. "It would be a little more interesting.
Speaking of interesting, Calhoun has had a very "different" 84 campaign than most of the college punters. He faked a punt and raced 47 yards for a Wildcat touchdown early in the season against Indiana. Two other deceptive punts against Mississippi State and Florida kept alive Kentucky scoring opportunities.
But his latest, and possibly his greatest accomplishment may have earned him a future in Hollywood. Saturday late in the fourth quarter against arch-rival Tennessee, the curly-headed, softspoken senior punted the ball on fourth down with the score 14-12 in UK's favor. In the act of kicking, Calhoun was somewhat "knocked down" by Vol's linebacker Reggie McKenzie. Much to the dismay of the Orange supporters UT was penalized for roughing the punter. Kentucky kept the ball and widened the lead on a Joe Worley field goal. If not for Calhoun's smart play (acting or nonacting) UK might have lost the constest. Instead the Wildcats are 8-3 and are scheduled to meet Big Ten power Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl at Legion Field.
With the postseason contest slated for December 31, Calhoun will get a chance to try and complete one last goal while at UK.
"We would definitely like to win a bowl game," Calhoun said recently after a practice session. "We went to a bowl game last year which was one of our goals. It was a great feeling going to the bowl. But after the game, when we lost, it kind of set us back a little bit. Maybe this year if we get to a bowl . . .we hope to win this one."
Calhoun, a four-year player at UK, had some interesting statements about a few things that he has noticed during his football tenure at UK.
SEC FOOTBALL -- "Tough. It's one of the best conferences in the country. The SEC is known all around for its toughness and hard hitting."
KENTUCKY FOOTBALL - "Kentucky football is going to be coming
around. To get behind a couple of winning seasons will help the confidence in your players and the ones coming. It's going to help out the recruits. Hopefully we'll get the big players to come in here now."
GEORGE ADAMS -- "He is a great runner. He can do everything. He's a great asset to the team and has really helped us out. George has been one of the main factors on why the program has turned around."
JERRY CLAIBORNE "Tough and strict. You have to respect him. When he first came in I really didn't accept his ways. I thought college was just to enjoy yourself. He's made me believe that you have to do the hard work and set aside the fun times. It has always paid off . . .we've come back with some winning seasons now. He really knows what he's doing. He's gotten through to me."
PAUL CALHOUN -- "I would like to have a successful career in whatever comes after college, to settle down and to have a nice happy family, and to be successful in life overall. I would like to be remembered as one of the people that was here to turn the program around at UK."
An Exceptional 44.5 Average