Returning Players and 2010 stats
Raymond Sanders (So.) 68 rushes for 254 yards and 3 TD’s
Jonathan George (So.) 9 rushes for 25 yards
CoShik Williams (Jr.) 24 rushes for 134 yards and 4 TD’s
Brandon Gainer (Fr-RS) Redshirted
Andrew Joseph* (So.) Did not see game action
Newcomers and notes
Josh Clemons (Fr.) Georgia Offensive Player of the Year in Class AAAA.
Marcus Caffey (Fr.) Georgia 2nd Team All-State Class AAA
DJ Warren* (Fr.) Tennessee 1st Team All-State Class AA as Junior and Senior
Cody Jones* (So-Tr.) 2010 Stats: Transfer season from Morehead State
Derrick Locke (Graduation) 166 rushes for 887 yards and 10 TD’s
Donald Russell (Transfer) 64 rushes for 293 yards and 2 TD’s
Moncell Allen* (Graduation) 12 rushes for 40 yards and 1 TD
Greg Meisner* and Brian Murphy* (Graduation) No stats
* Fullback position
The Cats return roughly 25% of their rushing production from the 2010 season. Gone is the speedster Derrick Locke, who is trying to compete for a job in the NFL. Locke became a household name when he helped the Cats take down No 1 LSU as a freshman. The Cats also lost Donald Russell, who transferred to Georgia State after Raymond Sanders passed him on the depth chart.
Heading into the 2011 season, Raymond Sanders is the No 1 running back on UK’s roster. Sanders suffered a knee injury before the spring game and had surgery over the summer. He isn’t quite 100%, but he is close. Most people compared Sanders to Locke because of his size, but they are different players. Sanders is a load at 5’8” and 205 lbs. While he may not posses the natural speed of Derrick Locke, he does all the little things right. Sanders gained valuable experience last season as a true freshman and is poised for a big season if he can stay healthy.
Playing the SEC is hard on running backs. One thing UK’s backfield has in 2011 is depth. While there are a lot of unproven players, they have a ton of potential. Jonathan George will enter the season as the No 2 running back. George saw limited action last fall, but impressed the staff this spring. George is known for his ability to hit the hole and run north and south. CoShik Williams and Brandon Gainer are also competing for carries this fall. Williams has been one of UK’s more successful walk-ons and had a huge game against Charleston Southern last year. Williams is more than capable of being a productive back-up. Brandon Gainer has all the potential in the world and was highly regarded coming out of high school. Gainer’s biggest challenge has been his ability to hold on to the football. However, reports coming out of camp suggest Gainer may be climbing the depth chart. The key for Williams and Gainer will be fighting off the true freshmen who entered camp ahead of them on the depth chart.
In the 2011 recruiting class, Joker Phillips claims UK signed their top two running back targets. Josh Clemons and Marcus Caffey were both highly regarding recruits from Georgia. Clemons was named the AAAA Offensive Player of the Year and rushed for over 2,000 yards and 25 TD’s as a high school senior. Clemons also comes from a family of athletes. His father played in the NFL. Caffey rushed for 1,600 yards 17 TD’s during his senior season. He was also named to the AAA 2nd Team All-State squad. Both of these true freshmen will receive hard looks by the staff during fall camp. I believe both could play this season, but I believe Caffey could benefit from a redshirt season. Initially UK recruited Caffey as a cornerback, so it’s possible he could change positions if the staff decides to redshirt him.
The Cats lost three senior fullbacks last season. The Cats moved Moncell Allen to the fullback position in hopes he could replace John “The Terminator” Conner in 2010. Allen became a huge part of UK’s ground attack and lead the way for UK’s tailbacks most of the season. One of the staff’s biggest challenges heading into the 2011 season is trying to determine who can replace “The Turtle.”
Cody Jones transferred from Morehead State and did not play last season. He did go through spring practice and entered fall camp as the projected starter. Some feel Andrew Joseph will compete for playing time as well. Joseph has yet to see game action at UK. The Cats signed Darrell “DJ” Warren in the 2011 class. Warren, a former Mr. Tennessee football winner, is a great athlete. He will compete at fullback and has a great chance to see a lot of action this fall. The key for Warren along with the other freshmen is adjusting to the speed of the game and learning the offense.
In looking at UK”s backfield for 2011, they have a new coach, young players and an experienced offensive line. The key for these backs will be holding onto the football, picking up the blocks in the passing game and catching the ball out of the backfield. UK’s offense is pretty complex and to be a featured back, you have to be able to do it all. I expect UK’s ground attack to be in the top tier of the SEC for 2011.