News from the Tennessee Valley Sports



LEXINGTON, Ky. — Keenan Burton didn't bypass a shot at the NFL so Kentucky can return to being an Southeastern Conference also-ran.

While the junior wide receiver is certainly proud of how far the Wildcats have come in the last year, he knows there's still plenty to work on as they enter spring practice.

"Our goal is not to maintain but to overcome," Burton said. "We don't want to be mediocre by doing the same thing we did last year. We want to get closer. We have to strive to be better than we were."

And for the first time in a long time, that might be harder than expected. Kentucky went 8-5 last season, winning a bowl game for the first time in 22 years and playing with the kind of confidence that's been difficult to come by over the last two decades.

"I try to explain to (the younger players)what we've been through," Burton said. "It's not easy to wake up every day and walk on campus as losers. That's something we don't want to go back to."


BIRMINGHAM — The UAB football team went through its fourth day of spring drills Monday, and head coach Neil Callaway said his team's intensity level was improved from Saturday's workout.

"Today's practice was a little better as far as intensity," Callaway said. "The defense picked it up as far as a couple of live drills, and that made it a little more competitive, and overall, it was a little more intense."

Callaway and his coaching staff are looking for plenty of competition on the field throughout the spring.

"They competed better today, but we have a ways to go. I don't think they understand yet how important it is to compete down-in, down-out and that what we're doing right now will have a long effect on what happens next fall.

"So we've got to work to get better now, work to get better during camp so we'll be good enough in the fall. We've still got a lot of work to do."

Callaway said linebacker Joe Henderson had another good day "doing some good things." On the offensive side, (running back) "Rashad Slaughter made some good plays, and (David) Sigler and (Jeffrey) Anderson again did some good things."

Alabama State

MONTGOMERY — Alabama State coach Charles Coe, unable to get timely assurance on a contract extension, said Monday he is leaving to become wide receivers coach for the Oakland Raiders.

Coe said he accepted the NFL job Sunday night after failing to get an extension on his four-year, $125,000 contract that was set to expire in December at the NCAADivision I-AA football program.

"I think they were going to try to work something out, but there were no guarantees," Coe said Monday after telling his players of the decision. "My window of opportunity to let the Raiders know that I was going to accept the job or not — I had to let them know something."

Receivers coach Reggie Barlow, a former Alabama State and NFL receiver, will serve as interim coach during the final two weeks of spring practice.

Coe posted a 29-18 record in four seasons at Alabama State, including two Southwestern Athletic Conference East Division titles and the 2004 overall league championship.

Coe took over the program on the eve of fall practice before the 2003 season after L.C. Cole was fired following the school's investigation into NCAA rules violations.

- The Associated Press

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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