The offensive line was gutted last season, with four starters exiting the program, including three big boys on the inside. Center Matt Smith and guard Larry Warford are the only returning starters and will have a weight of responsibility for carrying the load up front and easing the new guys into a routine. Warford has already been recognized by being named to pre-season award watch lists and picked by coaches around the league to be a star.
Now Athlon Sports has handed out a high honor, naming Warford a top player in the SEC, and the fifth-best offensive lineman in the conference. The players were judged on 2012 projected performance, importance to the team, positional importance, NFL Draft stock and overall career performance. It’s no surprise Warford was thought of highly by Athlon.
22. Larry Warford, OG, Kentucky
Warford is probably one of the nation’s most underrated players. He enters 2012 with 25 consecutive starts and has earned All-SEC honors in each of the last two seasons. At 6-foot-3 and 343 pounds, Warford has the size and strength to be a road grader on the ground, while helping to keep opposing linemen off the quarterback. The senior is an Athlon Sports first-team All-SEC selection for 2012.
The running back committee is poised to have a big year, the quarterback competition is looking to breed healthy progress, and the wide receivers are young and ready for a breakout year. If Warford, along with fellow senior Matt Smith can anchor a strong line, the Cats offense will be looking much stronger than it did a year ago. The only way to go is up!