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Is Elam Ready? Cat’s 2016 Schedule Features Five Centers on the Rimington Trophy Watch List

For three years, Kentucky’s Matt Elam has been polarizing figure. As a highly touted in-state prospect, Mark Stoops beat Nick Saban and Alabama for the talents of the John Hardin High School star. From day one, fan expectation has been unrealistic as the nose tackle position is not one commiserate with flash and pizazz. However, Elam has yet to display the obligatory endurance to consistently influence a game’s outcome. Fair or not; as an NFL draft eligible junior, he now has no other option than to live up to the extravagant hype surrounding his Lexington arrival. In NFL terms, Matt Elam is in a contract year.

With summer workouts in full gear, there’s not a Wildcat on the roster that needs to maximize his time in the weight room, nutrition facility, and running track more than the junior NT. As the primary run stuffer in DJ Eliot’s 3-4 defense, as Elam goes so does the Wildcat’s interior run defense. The BBN will not have to wait long to gauge his development. On week one, Southern Miss travels to Lexington with a talented, veteran center in Cameron Tom. Also laying in waiting are four more Rimington Trophy Watch List centers.

*The Rimington Trophy is presented to college football’s best center.

Alan Knott, South Carolina

The 6’4 280-pound junior has started 17 games for the Gamecocks. Since Will Muschamp’s arrival to Columbia, Knott has been named as the Most Improved Offensive Lineman as well as earning the Joe Morrison Spring Offensive Player of the Game.

Brandon Kublanow, Georgia

Last season, the 6’3 282-pound senior was named to the All SEC’s 2nd Team. Kublanow earned the Hugh Hendrix Award which is presented to the Bulldog that most strains his potential following spring practice. In other words, the hardest working player on the team. A seasoned veteran, he started all 13 games in 2014 and 2015.

Cameron Tom, Southern Miss

At 6’4 287-pounds, the senior Golden Eagle returns as the leader of an offensive line that racked up 7,133 total yards in 2015. An All-Conference USA selection, Tom was a mere two-star prospect from Baton Rouge Catholic High School. He’s since started 26 consecutive games and was moved from guard to center following his sophomore season.

Coleman Thomas, Tennessee

The junior was selected as the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week in the Volunteer’s win over Mizzou. Thomas started all 13 games as a sophomore. In last season’s win over Georgia, he effectually played right tackle as UT dominated the Dawgs on the ground.

Jamaal Clayborn, Mississippi State

Clayborn played in a team high 848 offensive snaps in 2015. The 6’4 320-pound senior spurned the NFL Draft to return for a senior season in Starkville. He was moved from guard to center during Mississippi State’s 2014 bowl practice.

If you’re a frequent reader of this site, then you’ve probably read my grave concerns regarding the Kentucky defensive line. If DJ Eliot remains steadfast in running the 3-4 defense, then on a weekly basis Matt Elam must play with much improved fortitude. Above listed centers are much like UK’s two-time Rimington Trophy Watch Lister, Jon Toth. Consistent traits within the group are: toughness, experience, intelligence, and noted relentless work ethic. In 2016, Elam as well as Naquez Pringle will have their hands full, literally.

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

11 Comments for Is Elam Ready? Cat’s 2016 Schedule Features Five Centers on the Rimington Trophy Watch List

  1. Laker Cat 18
    12:12 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

    When Elam’s motor gives us more than 1 play per defensive series, I’ll say he is ready. Until then, no, he’s not ready.

  2. Blueblueblueblue
    12:12 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

    Elam has one positive characteristic: size. Even his size is not ideal for his position. He is 6’5 or so. There is a reason many great Nose guards are shorter guys – it gives them better leverage. Literally every other characteristic football players must posses, Elam lacks. Instinct, work ethic, endurance, power, quickness, self-motivation, competitiveness… He lacks them all.

  3. Italy2013
    12:21 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

    Elam couldn’t push his way through a barn door left wide open.

    • Luether
      2:03 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

      And he couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag with a razor blade…

  4. kycats13
    12:23 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

    Elam is with us at UK because he realized early that he could have never played at Alabama. He will be for us, this year, just what he has been in the past, a part time player. Looks good in the team picture.

  5. david8577
    12:23 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

    Damn, some pretty harsh critics on here. The kid may seriously have an eating disorder. As much as he needs the weight room, he might need some counselling.

    • Laker Cat 18
      12:33 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

      It’s not about weight, it’s about effort. It’s not like high school where you play both ways and they have to drag you off the field. You’re going one-way. Man up, work hard, and wreak havoc in the trenches.

    • ClutchCargo
      1:05 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

      All D-1 linemen eat an insane amount of food. You just can’t do that and then not put in the hard work, or you end up 400+ lbs like Elam. I really do hope he is applying himself this summer, because he will be needed.

  6. Howdy Doody
    12:43 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

    if he does not drop his weight he will be eating DoNuts with Jarrod and Drew in the broadcast booth..

  7. kjd
    4:47 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

    This is Elam’s third year. The three summer months aren’t going to make him. If he was going to make it happen, we would already be seeing results. I’m moving on. Somebody else is going to need to be the playmaker in the middle.

  8. BluKudzu
    5:13 pm June 14, 2016 Permalink

    Long season ahead, if the DLINE will not produce. Does Elliott stay after this year if his defense sucks again for the 4th straight year? He is good friends with Stoops, I am thinking unless Stoops is made to, he won’t make a change.