While we wait on Drew to get the SEC Tournament Diary up and running from the Georgia Dome, let’s take a look at some of Kentucky football’s redshirt players to keep an eye on. Last week I tried to convince you that giving Drew Barker a redshirt wouldn’t be a bad idea. I like the idea of having a year to transition without any judgment, just work; kind of how Mark Stoops got a pass on his first season as he adjusted to head coaching. The following few players have learned how to practice while focusing primarily on High Performance training and should be a joy to watch develop this Spring.
Patrick Towles finally got a redshirt year after somewhat of a wasteful freshman year. Pat’s first drive as a quarterback showed flashes of greatness, but the injury bug bit down hard and quick. Reese Phillips has always been “the forgotten one” on the depth chart, which made for a pleasant surprise when he played as good, if not better than every quarterback in front of a record Spring Game crowd.
Pat has used the year to improve his release time while Reese has gained strength and improved his footwork. With experience in the playbook, the quarterback competition is about as even as it will ever get. Early talk from their Spring workouts has Reese as the top performer, but it will not be long before we can see all of the quarterbacks’ progress.
The Cats lost their two anchors in the middle of the defensive line, but Mean Regie Meant is more than capable as a replacement. Regie came to campus listed as 6’4″ 275 pounds. Not only has he bulked up near the 290-300 lb. mark, but a lot of it is muscle. He has a very agile lower body, giving him explosiveness inside, however most of that is because he’s one mean SOB. In one of Stoops’ first practices last fall, the team was going through the Oklahoma drill when he saw Regie’s ‘mean streak’ for the first time. Meant had just arrived on campus and wasn’t even fully dressed for practice, but as the environment became intense Regie wanted in on the drill. Of course Stoops held him back, but he was given a look, “like he was going to rip my head off.” Stoops’ grin was reminiscent of an evil villain as he told the story and since then I have been sold on Regie Meant.
A product of Stoops and Marrow’s Cardinal Mooney High in Youngstown, Ohio, Heard was 247′s #3 athlete in the nation in the class of 2010 after rushing for nearly 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns as a Senior. Heard played a limited role in his two seasons at Nebraska (462 yards and 4 TDs), before following Coach Marrow to Kentucky. Heard is an athletic specimen that prides himself on running between the tackles, yet is agile enough to to be a playmaker returning kicks on special teams. Jojo Kemp was effective as a true freshman, with another similar player added to the depth chart, Kentucky should have a powerful running game with plenty of options.
Kyle Meadows and Ramsey Meyers
Offensive linemen probably have more effective redshirt years than any other position. In high school they were usually the biggest guys on the field, needing little technique to master simplified blocking schemes. Having a year to improve fundamentals while learning how to block on the fly in the no huddle is probably more important than adding muscle, but these guys sure did add a lot of muscle. The new diets and High Performance weight lifting has turned a lumpy 290-pound Ramsey into a 330 lb. rock. At the end of the year, the coaches started using more redshirts in practice, with both receiving high praises from Mark Stoops and Neal Brown. Stoops believes that both will contend for starting spots this fall, “Ramsey’s a guy that jumps out right away. He’s got good size to him. I want to say he’s in the 330 range right now. And again, he plays very hard. He’s nasty and athletic. He’s a guy that can help us inside definitely. Kyle Meadows. I like Kyle and all those guys, really.”