Skip to content

Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

2014 Kentucky Football Position by Position Preview: Running Backs

Part three in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats.

josh-clemons

Josh Clemons showing off the results of his controversial legs for arms surgery.

 

DEPTH CHART:

TAILBACK:

Braylon Heard 5-11, 189 Jr.-Tr. Youngstown, OH/Nebraska OR

Jojo Kemp 5-10, 194 So. DeLand, FL

Josh Clemons 5-10, 223 Jr. Fayetteville, GA

Mikel Horton 6-1, 230 Fr.-HS West Chester, OH

William Mahone 5-9, 196 Fr.-RS Cincinnati, OH

Stanley “Boom” Williams 5-9, 200 Fr.-HS Monroe, GA

 

FULLBACK:

DJ Warren 6-0, 251 Sr. Alcoa, TN

Jeff Witthuhn 6-3, 246 So. Bowling Green, KY (Kenwood)

 

CAMP BATTLE PART ONE: HEARD V. KEMP

Though both will undoubtedly see significant game action, Braylon Heard and Jojo Kemp will battle for the lead ground role in the 2014 edition of Neal Brown’s Air Raid Offense.  Kemp led the Cats in rushing as a true freshman in 2014, amassing 482 yards on 100 carries.  Those totals are even more impressive considering the fact that Kemp compiled most of them on extremely gimpy ankles.  After off-season surgery to repair bone spurs, Kemp has recaptured the speed and agility that made him the 10th rated all purpose back nationally by Rivals.  Competing with Kemp to be the Cats’ lead back is Nebraska transfer Braylon Heard.  Heard was a top 5 running back nationally out of Cardinal Mooney High School, alma mater of both Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow, when he made the unfortunate choice to attend Nebraska, possibly while in a corn on the cob fueled state of euphoria and confusion.  In his sophomore season for the Huskers, Heard rushed for 348 yards and 3 touchdowns, while averaging nearly 7 yards per carry.  Though he has yet to see game action for the Cats, his redshirt year, as he sat out due to NCAA transfer rules, allowed Heard to learn the offense and to develop physically under the tutelage of Erik Korem, Kentucky’s High Performance Coach.  Regardless of who wins the starting nod, Kentucky appears to have two dynamic and experienced backs in Kemp and Heard.  As recently as his post-practice comments today, Neal Brown expressed high confidence in both.

 

CAMP BATTLE PART DEUX: WILLIAMS V. HORTON

Unlike other spots on the roster in which the Cats remain perilously thin (receiver and linebacker come to mind), Kentucky is blessed with solid veteran depth at tailback, as indicated with the discussion of Kemp and Heard above as well as the comments on Josh Clemons below.  That may lead to the expectation that freshman are unlikely to crack the rotation in the backfield.  However, the SEC is an unforgiving league with a well-earned reputation for devouring running backs.  Most teams need at least four solid backs to endure the conference meat grinder. Based in part on this need for depth at the position, in his public comments leading up to the start of camp, Neal Brown has stated specifically that at least one true freshman tailback will play.  This is due not only to the need for a deep roster of ball carriers, but also to the fact that Kentucky has two phenomenal freshman prospects at tailback.  Mikel Horton is a 230 pound bruiser from West Chester, Ohio.  Rated a four star player out of the talent-rich state of Ohio, Horton was able to get a head start by graduating early, and participating in Spring Practice.  Horton performed well in the Spring Game, carrying 13 times for 70 yards.  Competing with Horton for time is Stanley “Boom” Williams. More of an elusive and speedy back that Horton, Williams, also a 4 star recruit, picked the Cats over offers from Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Carolina and others.  Williams may have the slight edge as the freshman more likely to play as his skill set can be utilized in the return game as well as in the backfield.

 

A STORY OF PERSEVERANCE:

Football at the highest level is an unforgiving game.  Just ask junior tailback Josh Clemons. Clemons looked to be set for big things as a true freshman at Kentucky in 2011.  He scored a touchdown in his first game, and later broke off an 87 yard touchdown burst against Central Michigan.  Beside his on-the-field exploits, Clemons was an absolute freak of an athlete, with uncommon speed and a Hulkish appearance.  But just because a football player is built like a statue does not mean that he is made of iron. Clemons suffered a bad knee injury in the middle of his first year.  He missed all of 2012 recovering.  After enduring more than one year of grueling rehab to return to the field, Clemons tore his Achilles the summer prior to the 2013 season, thus losing a second consecutive season to injury.  Most players would not make it back from a second brutal injury, but Clemons has. He recovered sufficiently to rush for 93 yards on 11 carries in the Spring game, and appears to have regained his elite speed.  It appears that Clemons will have a role in the backfield for the Cats this season.  Just what that role is will largely depend on his health, but he is certainly a player that all Big Blue fans can admire and cheer for.

 

 

 

Article written by Duncan Cavanah

19 Comments for 2014 Kentucky Football Position by Position Preview: Running Backs



  1. TheRealBluegrass
    8:16 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Two of these guys will break their legs this year.



    • ralphmalph
      9:36 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

      i hope you sleep well at night.



    • ralphmalph
      9:36 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

      i hope you sleep well at night.



    • TheRealBluegrass
      9:46 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

      I sleep like a baby at night.



    • [email protected]
      6:58 am August 6, 2014 Permalink

      And you enjoy sleeping in that dirty diaper. What a POS.



  2. Stacy
    8:20 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Our tailbacks are undersized except for Mikel Horton. A bunch of midgets in the SEC.



    • Rei
      8:30 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

      Nah. Smaller and quicker backs are elusive and can outrun linebackers. Remember Cobb was only 5’10” or 5’11”.



    • [email protected]
      7:01 am August 6, 2014 Permalink

      I think we have a nice mix of running backs. I hope Josh Clemons stays healthy. Josh and Braylon are both big backs.



  3. WRONG, BUT MAYBE THIS TIME I'M RIGHT
    8:49 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    The RB’s won’t do diddly if the O-line doesn’t perform like one should. Without the offensive the RB’s are worthless and the QB will be useless. The WR’s will just be watching the carnage.



  4. Sweet
    8:57 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    We should go undefeated this year…. Patrick towles has developed into a pinpoint passer, so we will have a constant threat throwing down the middle to our much improved and talented receivers . He should rack up about 350 yds a game. Our offensive line is experienced and one of the best in the SEC, and with JO JO KEMP running the ball we will have a great running game. Our offense should be fluent and score about 40 a game with our great running and passing game combined.

    Our defense is the only thing in question. Bud Dupree is going to be great along with hatcher, and our secondary is much improved. The only thing in question is our linebackers. If flannigan can be a force we should allow about 15-30 points a game. A 13-2, 14-1 or 15-0( if the ball bounces our way) season is in the balance



    • SCCat
      12:48 am August 6, 2014 Permalink

      Fkn A.

      Not only do I agree, i’m drinking to agree.
      toast to your comments…

      Go Big Blue



  5. Long in the Tooth
    9:04 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Please allow me to introduce to many of you for the first time the Mini-Backs of the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs.

    Mike Garrett, 5’9″ 191 lbs
    Robert Holmes, 5’9″ 221 lbs
    Warren McVea, 5’9″ 182 lbs

    This trio formed the anchor of the team and along with Len Dawson and Mike Livingston at quarterback, plus the dapper Hank Stram as coach, carved out an 11-3 record in the AFL and went on to the Super Bowl to defeat the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings.

    Sometimes lightning can strike when you least expect it.

    Change the Game.

    Go Cats!



    • Short in the Tooth but rock a grill
      9:21 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

      Seriously it’s 2014 not 1969. Players are way bigger, stronger, and faster than the late 60’s, 70’s, even 80’s. Like post #3 said, the O’line is key.



  6. JLP
    9:31 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Off topic but WOW! “Vol for Life” is KSR site sponsor! Get those UT tix… I guess $$$ speaks louder than…



  7. Long in the Tooth
    9:41 pm August 5, 2014 Permalink

    Hi Short i the Tooth. Agreed, all the defensive players are bigger, stronger, faster, but don’t you think today’s smaller running backs are stronger and faster than their predecessors, even if they’re not taller? In 1969 those backs were physically outmatched but they still got to the end zone. I’ll not give up on the short guy no matter what Drew Franklin or any one else thinks about him.



  8. ribin
    7:25 am August 6, 2014 Permalink

    Jeff Witthun is from “Greenwood” —



  9. Kadizkat
    7:51 am August 6, 2014 Permalink

    Another great post Duncan. Your line on Heard “corn on the cob state of euphoria and confusion” was great. Second to the UL line in your first post!



  10. Name
    9:21 am August 6, 2014 Permalink

    Exactly what would we do with a depth chart full of bruisers in this offense? There’s a reason a lot of these guys could switch out to the slot or catch a pass from the backfield. We don’t run a Bama offense.



  11. bleedingblue
    2:30 pm August 6, 2014 Permalink

    Clemons is a spitting image of Shorty Mac!!