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Kentucky Football’s Most Irreplaceable Player

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Earlier this week, CBS Sports chose the 16 most irreplaceable players in college football.  Unsurprisingly, no one from Kentucky made the list.  But it got me thinking: who would be the most detrimental loss on Kentucky’s roster?

Without one superstar that’s a cut above the rest, here are a few candidates to consider.  You decide.

Boom Williams

Boom is the closest thing Kentucky has to a superstar.  A highlight waiting to happen, Boom’s big-play ability is lethal.  With 1,341 career rushing yards, if he improves on last year’s performance he could become one of the school’s Top Five rushers, surpassing players like Artose Pinner, Derrick Locke and George Adams.

There are a few things that could get in Boom’s way.  There’s no denying that Boom had some “issues” last year, from attitude to being in shape.  He has a new, no-nonsense coach.  Eddie Gran can make him the best running back he can be, but he also won’t hesitate to bench him.  JoJo Kemp has consistently improved, Mikel Horton has become more explosive out of the backfield, Sihiem King was the surprise of the spring and Gran has two incoming freshman to throw into the mix this fall.

Drew Barker

Barker has yet to prove that he will live up to the hype from his high-profile recruitment.  Although, things are looking up for the redshirt sophomore.  He has a pair of games under his belt to understand what it takes to win.  He matured in the offseason, on and off the field.  In the spring game he was efficient, leading an impressive two-minute drill for a touchdown to close out the first half.

Kentucky’s success usually falls on the shoulders of the quarterback.  If he exceeds his potential, the Cats will surpass fans’ expectations.  If he can’t be the one to do it, the Cats do have a dynamic backup in Stephen Johnson.  Johnson doesn’t have the same tools as Barker, but he has a nice touch pass and can use his feet to keep defenses on their toes.

Courtney Love

We’ve seen very little of Love, but his hard-nosed, smash-mouth attitude on the practice field has given him plenty of notoriety.  The gritty Youngstown native can become the next member of Linebacker U.  Arguably the thinnest position on the defense, if the inside linebacker goes down, finding someone to fill in will not be easy.

Chris Westry

The All-Freshman SEC cornerback is back, bigger and better than before.  Westry will build an island in the open-field, taking away a side of the field.  If there’s one Wildcat you look at and say, “he’s going to play on Sundays,” it’s Westry.

On the other side of the field, Derrick Baity looms.  For the first time in a long time (maybe ever), the Cats’ strength on defense will be at cornerback.  If you take that strength away, it will be difficult to find a defensive identity.

Jon Toth

Toth’s candidacy isn’t just to make Freddie Maggard a happy man.  He’s the best center in the SEC, the most important position on the offensive line.  An intelligent player and one of the few senior leaders, he commands a group that will be more talented, but also very young.

Even though Toth is essential, Bunchy Stallings and Drake Jackson proved to be formidable during the spring game.  Like others, Toth’s tangibles could be replaced, but his leadership cannot be replaced.

I think I have to go with the quarterback, because no position is more important to the Cats’ success, but it’s your decision BBN.

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Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

15 Comments for Kentucky Football’s Most Irreplaceable Player

  1. inside info2
    11:22 am May 28, 2016 Permalink

    Barker doesn’t have to exceed expectations. Expectations were pretty high when he arrived on campus. He just has to meet expectations and we’ll be fine. Can he do it? I hope so but I’m not holding my breath. My guess is Johnson is starter by mid-season. I hope I’m wrong.

  2. scorpiocard
    1:27 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

    Why isn’t Fatt Elam on the list? lol

    • WillySpankit
      1:41 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

      How long did it take you to come up with that one?

    • scorpiocard
      3:30 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

      I didn’t come up with it. I must give credit where credit is due. Haywood Jablome came up with it.

    • scorpiocard
      3:32 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

      btw…Boom Williams is the no brainer pick imo

  3. blueballs80
    2:39 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

    Doesn’t matter which one of these is irreplaceable if the D can’t stop the run and a mobile QB.

  4. ukkatzfan
    4:34 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

    Boom is not that far ahead of our other backs We lose him, we have JoJo and Mikel. Barker has had 1-2 more SEC starts than Johnson. Brings us to Westry….Staying on the road he is on, he’s the Sunday afternoon Pro Bowl pick. Westry will lose numbers based on the fact that other qb’s will ground it rather than challenge him. This poll is a no brainer for Westry.

    • scorpiocard
      7:50 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

      I don’t recall Barker starting against any SEC teams. I thought Charlotte was his first start of the season.

    • ukkatzfan
      11:58 am May 29, 2016 Permalink

      I said SEC starts because he started for a SEC team….. UK.

  5. Scrappy Cat
    5:21 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

    Very strange list of irreplaceable players. Courtney love has not played a snap for us in a game, so we have no clue how that will pan out. Drew Barker started 2 games last year and it was maybe the worst quarterbacking I have ever seen at UK, 6 for 22 against the Cards, I mean that is horrendous. I hope he makes alot of progress now that there is a QB coach, if not this will be a long pitiful season. Boom, Westry, and Toth are all very good candidates for the list, I don’t know what you were thinking with the other 2.

    • scorpiocard
      7:34 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

      Even Westry seems a little strange to me. I know he is the only certifiable almost lock NFL prospect on the entire team (not saying he is the only one who will eventually get drafted some day), but he is still young and most of what we know about him is his potential. Until he actually produces lock down corner type plays and production on a consistent basis its still speculation. All Freshman SEC is nothing to sneeze at, but what he does this season is what will show if he is for sure bound to blossom into a legitimate star. And if you cannot stop the run, and get some offensive production (this big time), then what good is a lock down corner really?

      For shear proven production, Boom is the only one I see.

      I agree that Barker played so poorly (with the exception of the opening drive) against the only truly good completion that he faced, I don’t see how he could be considered Irreplaceable, even though he is at this point basically your only QB.

    • BluKudzu
      8:02 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

      Scorpiocard has given an excellent analysis of the situation of UK football. Boom is the one player that would be terribly missed. I would also like to add to the short list, John Toth. Either of those two get hurt, the season could be much worse than anyone could anticipate.
      Our defense, at least on paper right now, does not look to stop anyone, which means, more pressure has to be on the offense to try and keep us in most games.
      Drew Barker, sorry to say, based on performance last year against Louisville has no clue about college football. Further, the comment that says he has grown up, based upon him being effective against our defense in a two minute drill, means nothing. Our defense could not stop a middle school team from scoring.
      I think the QB position is one of the worst situations on the team.
      Long season coming folks. I just do not think anything is adding up correctly. It seems with every position on the team, every single position, except for two, have way more questions than a confident answer. going into the 4th year of rebuilding, we are still years away from having a team that can compete, with anyone, except those on the lowest level. Don’t forget how close we were to losing to EASTERN KENTUCKY, and a last place finisher in the Sunbelt. We were lucky to even be the 3rd best college football team in the state.
      I am not buying into the great coaching, great recruiting BS. Each game has shown too many mistakes made by the coaches. Just read “Special Teams.”

    • scorpiocard
      10:25 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

      I think it has become pretty clear that you don’t even have good coaching, let alone great. Elam is a perfect example. I have seen it said on here that ultimately it is up to him to get into shape. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who knows football knows that any good coach with some balls would have already called Elam into his office and sat him down (well on second thought he would break the chair. Make him stand up) and told him that he was instructing the team nutritionist and the trainers to put him on a diet and conditioning program to get him into peak shape. If he does not stick to it…goodbye scholarship. Transfer anywhere that will take you.

      Letting a player get into horrible shape like that betrays the lack of control and player development that is going on in the program. There are many other signs of this as well. Elam is one of the most obvious ones.

      Maybe there will be some kind of miracle turnaround this season, but the red flags are everywhere that its not going to happen.

      How can you have the kind of recruiting classes Stoops has had the last few years, and have practically no players that are considered up and coming high performers? Westry…the running backs, Toth, and then who? BluKudzu is correct. Far too many ??? for year 4.

    • dshwildcats
      8:36 am May 29, 2016 Permalink

      I totally agree, Scrappy Cat! Based on Barker’s performance at the end of last season (Vandy, Charlotte and Louisville), I definitely wouldn’t be calling him irreplaceable at this point. I realize there’s been a lot of hype around Love; but as it has already been mentioned, the kid has yet to take a snap at Kentucky. We’ve had a lot of “potentially” great players over the years that have never lived up to the expectations.

      I think a case could be made for Toth, given his level of experience, and role as leader of the OL. But ultimately, I think Boom is the one player this team can’t do without. When Boom left the game against Louisville with an injury in the 1st half last November, that was the beginning of the end. He finished with just 7 carries the game, and the offense was abysmal in the 2nd half!

  6. nicky
    8:08 pm May 28, 2016 Permalink

    It’s Boom because he can take the pressure off Barker while he gets his feet under him