By LARRY VAUGHT
He might have to wait his turn for a chance to play at Kentucky, but perhaps the most under appreciated Kentucky football signee by UK fans was Georgia running back Travis Tisdale.
The 5-9, 165-pound Tisdale was a four-star recruit from Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Ga. ESPN rated him as one of the nation’s top 300 players and had him at the No. 18 running back nationally. Rivals.com rated him as the No. 11 all-purpose back nationally. He led Class 7-A with 1,903 yards rushing and 21 touchdowns on 217 carries as a senior before picking UK over Penn State, Nebraska, Ole Miss and others.
“He’s an aggressive runner. He makes contact with defenders and uses his strength to gain additional yards,” said Shane Thomas of the Valdosta Daily Times. “He’s also accepting of taking on multiple roles. He played defensive back his senior season at Lowndes and was a return specialist also.”
He caught 14 passes for 130 yards last season and also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and had 21 tackles as a corner back. He finished his career with 45 rushing touchdowns, the best ever at Lowndes High School.
Tisdale told Thomas on signing day that he thought playing against a “lot of big-time players” in the SEC that eventually go to the NFL would be good for him. He also said he knows he needs to gain weight, one reason Thomas believes a redshirt year would benefit Tisdale.
Thomas wasn’t surprised Kentucky was able to sign Tisdale because of the “positive reaction” he had to UK coach Mark Stoops.
“He’s one of those players every coach wants. He has a positive attitude and remarkable work ethic. He’s friendly, respectful, a great student, and has a personality everyone wants to be around,” Thomas said. “As a player, he’s someone who can break free for a touchdown at any moment. If people get to know him a little bit, they’ll like his personality. He has a great smile to complement his personality.”
He will also be able to learn next year from junior running back A.J. Rose and redshirt freshmen Kavosiey Smoke and Chris Rodriguez.
“We felt very good with Chris and Kavosiey and A.J. going into the year. You heard me talk about it throughout the year, we really wanted to see those guys, but when you have Benny (Snell) and A.J., it’s hard to get to those guys,” Stoops said. “But Kavosiey and Chris, when you did see them you saw the talent that was there and the maturity and how physical they are. They’ve got some speed. So definitely felt like we could just go with one running back at this point in this class.”
Especially when that one is a four-star player as physical, fast and versatile as Tisdale.