It’s only the fourth day of practice, but there’s good news surrounding the Kentucky football team’s weakest link. Young talent is emerging on the defensive line, a potential impact player is healthy and one veteran has learned his lesson.
The first freshman to receive praise from defensive coordinator Matt House was Quinton Bohanna, a 6’4″ 320-pound defensive tackle. A player Freddie Maggard saw potential to play right away, defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc said they’ll test Bohanna right away.
“We’re gonna throw him in the fire and see what he can do,” said LeBlanc.
Most likely a nose guard in UK’s 3-4 defense, two other young guys you may not have heard of before have been impressive at defensive tackle.
“Kordell Looney is popping up and showing some flashes,” LeBlanc said. “Calvin Taylor is showing some really good stuff right now. He’s a big kid. He’s 6’5-plus, 295 and he’s got long arms. He’s showing up right now.”
Another new defensive tackle brought experience, but two bad shoulders. At SEC Media Days, Mark Stoops was unsure if Phil Hoskins would be able to play in the first month of the season. Hoskins said Sunday he’s been cleared. This week he is participating in individual, non-contact drills. LeBlanc said Hoskins will be cleared for contact next week.
Let me be clear: THIS IS A VERY BIG DEAL. There’s a ton of new talent on campus thanks to the 2017 recruiting class, but few can immediately contribute. Not only can the junior college transfer contribute immediately, the defensive line needs Hoskins to play right away. For a while, that looked like it might not be possible. Luckily, the Cats will soon receive some help from Hoskins.
The defensive line could find help from a name you haven’t heard in awhile: defensive tackle Tymere DuBose. A defensive lineman with all the physical traits, he’s struggled with the intangibles. Mark Stoops said in Sunday’s press conference that he took DuBose off the team this spring, forcing DuBose to focus on academics. Did Stoops’ challenge work?
“He’s here, so obviously he responded and did everything he had to do,” LeBlanc said. “He had a great spring academically; had an even better summer. Now we just have to keep those habits there and keep him going. But the kid is maturing… I’m very pleased with his progress.”
DuBose worked out with the team this summer to help get him back into shape, but LeBlanc said he’s only halfway there, not quite into football shape. If he can grind into physical and mental shape throughout camp, Freddie’s ‘What If’ scenario may come true.
No position group has received more questions this offseason than the defensive line. In the first week of camp we have a few possible solutions, but as LeBlanc noted, “There’s a long way to go and much to tell.”