Fall camp officially starts this weekend and the college football season kicks off just a few weekends later. On August 24th Florida and Miami meet in Orlando to get our Week Zero started off right. It can’t get here fast enough.
With the approach of Media Day, UK has finally published a roster with updated weights and numbers. We now know what digits all the rookies will be wearing and get a brief glimpse of who will be contributing for the Wildcats this fall.
For all of us football junkies, however, it’s time to read in between the lines. If you know where to look, rosters can tell you a little bit of something about the upcoming season. It puts a number on players who are working hard to develop in Kentucky’s strength and conditioning program and shows who might need to cut some weight. After spending way too much time going over the roster, here are some major takeaways to kn0w with college football getting so close we can almost taste it.
Lynn Bowden has bulked up
The star slot receiver and kick returner is entering his junior season and many believe it will be his last at the college level. Lynn Bowden was UK’s best playmaker on offense last year and also provided very solid efficiency by possessing an 80.7 percent catch rate. With Benny Snell gone, the Youngstown native is going to see an increased workload in 2019 and the electric athlete has bulked up for it.
After playing the 2018 season at 195 pounds, Lynn Bowden is up 11 pounds and will play all season at over 200 pounds. That will be much needed because Kentucky is going to force feed the dynamic player touches all season. Expect him to be the primary return man, but also a guy who approaches 100 catches in addition to getting 20-30 rushing attempts. Don’t forget the gadget passes out of the wildcat formation. UK needs Bowden to be durable and he’s prepped his body for the season.
We’ve talked ad nauseam about how young and inexperienced Kentucky is going to be in the secondary this season, but there is another aspect this next group of Wildcats is lacking when compared to their predecessors. After having one of the biggest secondaries in the country, Kentucky is set to take a step back in 2019.
Every expected contributor in the secondary checks in at under 200 pounds after UK had three of five starters over 200 pounds last season. It’s not only the weight, however, this season. With both Derrick Baity and Chris Westry, the Wildcats were extremely long at corner from 2015-2018. That won’t be the case this fall with projected starters Cedrick Dort Jr. and Brandin Echols both checking in at 5-foot-11.
It’s going to be a different world for UK’s secondary this season and it will be interesting to see how the coaches adjust to the inexperience and smaller players.
A.J. Rose Isn’t Small
To this point in his career, A.J. Rose is know more as a big play back and less as a guy who can move the pile in short-yardage football. In limited carries, we saw plenty of burst but not a ton of use on third-and-short or near the goal line. He’s been pumping the weights and hitting the training table to help prepare him for that aspect of the game.
The Cleveland native is up 10 pounds from last season as he prepares for a much larger workload this fall. A.J. Rose put up impressive explosive numbers to go with efficiency rates that ranked higher than Benny Snell (50 percent success rate to Snell’s 45 percent). However, that is going to become harder to maintain with a larger sample size. Rose needed some weight to add some power to his game and help him gain some durability.
Kentucky is going to need a big year from the redshirt junior tailback.
John Schlarman has some units
The one thing that should get you most excited about this season is that UK returns a ton of experience on the line of scrimmage. Drake Jackson, Landon Young, and Logan Stenberg have all been receiving first-team game reps since their rookie seasons and each has started multiple games. Darian Kinnard really impressed as a true freshman while Luke Fortner has quietly developed.
Those are all good things and usually are a tell tale sign that a specific offensive line is setup to have a good season. However, UK is in the SEC and you’re going to need some beef to really make an impact. Kentucky has that and more this season.
John Schlarman’s projected five starters are all over 300 pounds and as a group they average out to 316.8 pounds. Three starters are over 320 pounds and top expected backup Mason Wolfe checks in at 323 pounds entering his final season. Top backup tackle Naasir Watkins is the lightest of the bunch at 302 pounds. It took this staff awhile, but it appears they have built an offensive line that is here to last.
Benny Snell may be gone, but these units are still going to move people in the run game.
Beef at Nose
Quinton Bohanna is your projected third-year starter at nose. He weighs 361 pounds. Marquan McCall is your projected backup at nose. He weighs 371 pounds. Good luck moving that.
If the two highly talented players are in shape and can last the whole season with missing time for injury, they are going to be a pain in the rear end for every interior offensive line UK faces this season.