The Kentucky football team has a wealth of experience on the 2017 roster with 17 returning starters, but head coach Mark Stoops believes up to nine freshmen can contribute this Saturday at Southern Miss.
In UK’s week one depth chart, six true freshmen make an appearance: left tackle Naasir Watkins, outside linebacker Josh Paschal, and four wide receivers, Lynn Bowden, Josh Ali, Clevan Thomas and Isaiah Epps. In today’s press conference, Stoops added to the list NT Quinton Bohanna, CB Cedrick Dort and RB Bryant Koback.
Stoops told the freshmen at the start of camp to do what Benny Snell did, force the coaches to play them. “The nice thing about playing freshmen is because they jump out at you, not because you need them.”
Of all the true freshmen, the one you need to keep an eye on is Thomas. Stoops said he will definitely play and “might be the first one in.”
In addition to the true freshmen, Stoops hopes Drew Barker can have a chance for redemption against Southern Miss.
“I would love to get Drew Barker into the game. He deserves an opportunity.” Stoops added, “We have a lot of trust in Drew.”
Stephen Johnson is UK’s starting quarterback, but if all goes according to plan in Hattiesburg, Barker could log significant time in the second half.