Returning Players and Position
Billly Joe Murphy (Sr.) Starting Right Tackle
Chandler Burden (Sr.) Starting Left Tackle
Jake Lanefski (Sr.) Swingman Guard and Center
Stuart Hines (Sr.) Starting Left Guard
Larry Warford (Jr.) Starting Right Guard
Matt Smith (Jr.) Starting Center
Trevino Woods (Jr.) Tackle
Kevin Mitchell (So.) Guard
Sam Simpson (So.) Center and Guard
David Noltemeyer (R-Fr.) Right Guard
Max Godby (R-Fr.) Left Guard
Teven Eatmon-Nared (R-Fr) Tackle
Newcomers and notes
Darrian Miller (Fr.) Tackle
James Elliott (Fr.) Guard
Zach West (Fr.) Center
Brad Durham (Graduation)
Marcus Davis (Graduation)
Dave Ulinski (Medical)
The Offensive Line has now become the strength of the UK football program according to Joker Phillips. Last season there were many question marks with the unit, but Mike Summers came in and worked his magic. The 2010 Offensive Line ranked 2nd in the conference in sacks allowed (19) all season.
The 2011 Offensive Line returns four starters and several players who have a lot of game experience. The starters will be Chandler Burden (LT), Stuart Hines (LG), Matt Smith (C), Larry Warford (RG) and Billy Joe Murphy (RT). Jake Lanefski has become the units swing man and back-up center.
The leader of the unit is Stuart Hines, a Bowling Green native. While Hines has become the leader, Larry Warford is the best lineman on the team. Warford, a Richmond native, has received All-SEC honors and will have a chance to enter the NFL draft as a junior. Most people don’t think Warford will make the leap, but I wouldn’t rule it out either.
Chandler Burden came to UK has a defensive end before the staff moved him to left tackle. He has shown a lot of character, work ethic and determination in becoming the man who protects the quarterback’s blind side. Burden missed time this off-season due to a knee injury, but is now 100%.
Billy Joe Murphy played a huge role on the 2010 team. He backed up Burden and Brad Durham. Still, Murphy has started nine games in his career and Mike Summers has become a big fan.
There has been some concern about the starters missing a lot of time during camp. Don’t worry. These guys are getting their work in and will be fine. The staff doesn’t want to push them and risk an injury in a meaningless scrimmage when they know their starting unit is set. The scrimmages are giving the staff a chance to evaluate the younger guys and determine who they can call upon in the case of an injury.
Last season Matt Smith was able to beat out Jake Lanefski for the starting center job. Smith was learning to make the blocking calls at the line of scrimmage and will be more confident this season. Lanefski may not be a starter, but he will see a lot of action and will be very valuable in the event the Cats suffer an injury inside. Think of Lanefski as your back up quarterback on the offensive line.
In the 2010 class, the staff signed Teven Eatmon-Nared from Ohio. He redshirted last season, but has changed his body a ton under Rock Oliver. He also benefited from Burden’s injury and received a lot of reps in the spring. Eatmon is actually in a perfect scenario. He was able to come in as a true freshman, learn and get ready for his second year. He too will see action this fall, provide depth and gain valuable experience for the future.
Three other names to remember for fall are Trevino Woods, Sam Simpson and Kevin Mitchell. They were all listed at back-ups on the depth chart heading into fall camp. Also, walk-on’s Tyler Davenport, Max Godby and David Noltemeyer are listed on the three-deep depth chart. I don’t look for these guys to see serious action this fall, but we’ll have to keep an eye on them.
The Cats signed a dynamic trio of recruits in February. Darrian Miller, Zach West and James Elliott are all very impressive true freshmen. While I expected them all to redshirt, I wouldn’t be shocked if Darrian Miller doesn’t. Based on feedback, Miller is very explosive and has great feet. The staff loves his potential to become a tackle. Zach West turned down offers from Penn State and Tennessee to stay home and play for the Cats. He will likely redshirt and develop as a center. He spent time this summer working with Dermontti Dawson. James Elliott is thick, strong and will develop as an inside player.
While many people are concerned about the departures of Mike Hartline, Randall Cobb, Chris Matthews and Derrick Locke. I’m not. The Cats return a ton of experience on the offensive line and anyone who knows football understands the game is won at the line of scrimmage. This unit should be able to impose their will on teams, establish the running game and give Morgan Newton protection. While I like UK’s running backs, any of them should be able to run the ball behind this offensive line.