Now that basketball recruiting for 2013 is over, it’s time around KSR to turn our attention primarily to football. Mark Stoops has given us a lot to write about, and look forward to, on the recruiting trail, picking up three- and four-star commitments left and right. But a recent couple of posts on SEC football blog Saturday Down South shows us that it’s not just the new guys in the Kentucky uniform that fans have to look forward to.
In a series of posts for “Best Returning Position Players,” Kentucky has a couple guys in the defensive spots that crack the SEC’s top 8. Predict how you will whether the Wildcats will be better on offense or defense; there are arguments either way. Mark Stoops is naturally a defense-minded coach, but the offense did well last season until injuries took their toll. Plus, Neal Brown has the potential to bring out the best in Max Smith, Jalen Whitlow, or whoever they start at QB.
But in the “returning players” category, it looks like SDS would give a slight edge to the defense. Of the five “positions” discussed on the blog, two Kentucky players made the lists. Both of them play defensive positions. The Quarterback, Running Back, and Wide Receiver lists were all sadly bereft of any Kentucky players. However, “Top Returning Tacklers” and “Top Returning Sackers” each had Kentucky players; in fact, one player made both lists.
The “Tacklers” list featured LB Avery Williamson all the way up at the #2 spot, after picking up 135 tackles last season, good for 7th nationally. That’s second in the SEC only to the 138 tackles of Tennessee’s AJ Johnson. Third place’s CJ Mosley had only 107 tackles. Also on the list at #6 is DE/LB Alvin “Bud” Dupree with 91 tackles.
And speaking of Dupree, he also made the “Top Returning Sackers” list at #4 with 6.5 sacks, and 12.5 tackles for loss last season. Jadeveon Clowney still has a lock on the top spot there, though, after netting 14.5 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss for South Carolina. Which is just ridiculous.
So while keeping up with all the new recruits is exciting (Thanks, Stoops), let’s not forget that he and the rest of the coaching staff have some guys returning that they could put to good use, particularly on the defensive end. If Williamson and Dupree are mentioned as “Top 8” tacklers or sackers in the SEC by a team-neutral site, you know they have some skills. I think it’s a safe bet that Stoops, who had Florida State’s defense absolutely rocking, will bring out the best in those guys, and make them even better.
There’s a lot to look forward to at Commonwealth.