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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.