Returning Players and 2010 Stats (starters in bold)
Mark Crawford (Sr.) 24 Tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2 Sacks
Antwane Glenn (Sr.) 5 Tackles
Luke McDermott (Sr.) 17 Tackles, 5 TFL, 3 Sacks, 1 INT
Jacob Lewellen (Jr.) 1 Tackle, 1 TFL
Collins Ukwu (Jr.) 26 Tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 Sack, 2 PBU
Taylor Wydham (Jr.) 27 Tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2.5 Sacks, 1 PBU
Mister Cobble (So.) 1 Tackle
Donte Rumph (So.) 12 Tackles, 1 Fumble Recovery
Tristan Johnson (So.) 1 PBU
Patrick Ligon (So.) 1 Fumble Recovery
Alvin Davis (R-Fr.) Redshirted
Mike Douglas (R-Fr.) Redshirted
Newcomers and notes
Christian Coleman (Fr.)
Shane McCord (Graduation)
DeQuin Evans (Graduation)
Ricky Lumpkin (Graduation)
Nermin Delic (Injury / taking year off)
Brice Laughlin (Injury / Grades)
Elliott Porter (Transfer)
The Defensive Line has been a hot topic among the fans and has been a challenge for the staff on the recruiting trail. For the most part, this unit underachieved last season. The Cats started the season without one key component, Mister Cobble. The big fella was ruled academically ineligible and his loss was huge.
Many people were expecting big things from Ricky Lumpkin and DeQuin Evans last season, but it never happened. Evans battled injuries after a solid junior campaign and Ricky Lumpkin was the most consistent interior lineman. The Big Blue Nation was introduced to “Freaky” Luke McDermott last season. The walk-on became a household name after he recorded an interception at Louisville last season. Oh yeah, he led the team in sacks too.
Taylor Wyndham and Collins Ukwu struggled to get a pass rush off the edge. I think many people were expecting huge things from Wyndham after he knocked out Tim Tebow in 2009. Both guys are poised for big seasons in Rick Minter’s new system. Ukwu has really transformed his body and has developed a great work ethic. Wyndham still remains the best pure pass rusher on the defensive line.
After signing with UK for a third time, Donte Rumph finally made it to campus last season. The staff played Rumph immediately. After sitting out of football for over a year, he and the staff had to work hard to get him ready. I can tell you now, he is massive. If you ever shake his hand, be careful. He has bear paws. After spending a year with Rock Oliver, he will be taking on double teams and plugging holes. Rumph and Cobble will be the starting interior linemen this season. These are two bruisers and I don’t know how anyone can move them.
Entering last season, fans were excited about the freshmen class. The Cats signed Brice Laughlin, Nermin Delic and Elliott Porter. Fast-forward to summer and none are on the roster. Delic saw action last season as a true freshman and decided to leave the program. After a change of heart and meeting with Joker Phillips, he will rejoin the program in January. He is taking a year off to get healthy. Brice Laughlin battled injuries and allowed his grades to slip and found himself ineligible. He left the program. Elliott Porter became homesick and transferred back to LSU where he initially signed in 2010. What was thought to be the future of the defensive line was no more with these departures.
The staff decided to move some guys around on the line to fit their strengths and team needs. Patrick Ligon and Tristan Johnson both moved from the outside to the inside. While I don’t expect these guys to have huge roles this season, they will provide valuable depth along with Antwane Glenn, Jacob Lewellen, Alvin Davis and Mike Douglas. Both Davis and Douglas are very promising players who just need a little more time before they have a huge impact.
Two guys who will have huge seasons as role players will be Mark Crawford and Luke McDermott. Crawford had been in the dog-house for a number of reasons, but appears to be doing everything right to stay on the team. McDermott, who entered fall as a starter will likely back-up Cobble and Rumph.
In the 2011 recruiting class, the staff signed Christian Coleman and David Washington. While Coleman made it to UK, Washington had to attend Junior College. Coleman, who played with Avery Williamson in high school, has been turning heads in fall camp. Look for him to play as a true freshman.
Last season, Steve Brown’s unit really struggled to stop the run and put pressure on the quarterback. UK ranked at the bottom of the SEC in these categories. Enter Rick Minter. The former Cincinnati Head Coach and Notre Dame defensive coordinator is all business. He started changing the defense immediately. One thing fans will see with Rick Minter is a new attitude. He will mix things up and try to confuse opposing quarterbacks. He has put an increased emphasis on tackling and forcing turnovers. All in all, the 2011 defensive line should be much improved. They key will be staying healthy.