Spring has spring for the Kentucky football team. Beginning next week the Wildcats will return to the gridiron for 15 practices over five weeks, providing an opportunity for newcomers to get their feet wet and for veterans to focus on the details.
Before the position battles get underway, KSR takes a closer look at the Wildcats’ depth chart. With 17 returning starters, not much will change ahead of the 2020 season. There are still some uncertainties surrounding injuries that will make the next 15 practices more vital to some than others.
1. Terry Wilson (6-3, 203, Sr.)
2. Sawyer Smith (6-3, 219, Sr.)
3. Joey Gatewood (6-5, 230, So.)
This is what the position will look like if Terry Wilson is healthy and Joey Gatewood does not become immediately eligible to play this fall. A LOT can change, for better or worse, between this spring season and Sept. 5. All three could see action in 2020 which makes this the most intriguing group to watch all spring.
1. AJ Rose (6-1, 218, Sr.)
2. Kavosiey Smoke (5-9, 220, So.) OR
3. Chris Rodriguez (5-11, 224, So.)
Who gets the most touches in this rotation will be a point of contention for fans throughout the 2020 season. Keep you torches and pitchforks put away, for now.
WIDE RECEIVER (X)
1. Allen Dailey (6-3, 204, Jr.)
2. DeMarcus Harris (6-1, 176, Fr.)
Dailey received early reps by playing inside but he’ll be most valuable this year as a big target on the outside.
WIDE RECEIVER (Z)
1. Bryce Oliver (6-1, 208, So.)
2. Isaiah Epps (6-2, 187, Jr.)
Epps has always been a “prove it” player. He has even more to prove after a foot injury sidelined him for the entire 2019 season
1. Josh Ali (6-0, 193, Sr.)
2. Clevan Thomas (5-11, 213, Jr.)
Kentucky’s best route runner will move inside to become the most-targeted wide receiver in 2020. If he can build off the final drive from his last game…
WIDE RECEIVER (Y)
1. Clevan Thomas (5-11, 213, Jr.)
2. Tae Tae Crumes (6-2, 171, Fr.)
1. Justin Rigg (6-6, 263, Jr.)
2. Keaton Upshaw (6-6, 255, So.)
1. Landon Young (6-7, 321, Sr.)
2. Naasir Watkins (6-5, 302, Jr.)
1. Kenneth Horsey (6-3, 321, So.)
2. Luke Fortner (6-6, 305, Sr.)
1. Drake Jackson (6-2, 312, Sr.)
2. Quintin Wilson (6-1, 302, So.)
1. Luke Fortner (6-6, 305, Sr.)
2. Austin Dotson (6-6, 331, Jr.)
The most-pressing matter for UK’s offense this spring is finding Logan Stenberg’s replacement at left guard. That could mean that Fortner is bumped over from right to left. That could mean a promotion is in order for Kenneth Horsey. The talented newcomers — Jeremy Flax, John Young and R.J. Adams — will certainly make a play for the position. John Schlarman may not find the right fit for his fifth offensive lineman until we are two-three games into the season.
1. Darian Kinnard (6-5, 324, Jr.)
2. Naasir Watkins (6-5, 302, Jr.)
Darian Kinnard is the best player on UK’s roster that we aren’t talking enough about. Others from the outside world are beginning to catch on. Exhibit A:
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) February 28, 2020
1. Matt Ruffalo (5-11, 213, Sr.)
2. Chance Poore (6-2, 223, So.)
All of my confidence in the kicking game lies with the Spicy Italian Meatball.
1. Max Duffy (6-1, 194, Sr.)
2. Grant McKinniss (6-1, 192, Sr.)
1. Travis Tisdale (5-9, 172, Fr.) OR
2. MJ Devonshire (5-11, 175, Fr.) OR
3. Josh Ali (6-0, 193, Sr.)
1. Travis Tisdale (5-9, 172, Fr.)
2. Zach Johnson (5-10, 187, Sr.)
I think Kentucky will find a way to get Tisdale involved in the return game. If he, or any of the other speedy young guys, are too unreliable, Johnson will serve as the trustworthy return man that will secure the ball and make good decisions.
1. Quinton Bohanna (6-4, 361, Sr.)
2. Marquan McCall (6-3, 371, Jo.)
1. Phil Hoskins (6-5, 310, Sr.)
2. Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald (6-6, 292, Jr.)
1. Josh Paschal (6-3, 284, Jr.)
2. Kordell Looney (6-3, 292, Sr.)
Paschal was set to be Kentucky’s starting defensive end in 2018 until a cancer diagnosis forced him to the sideline. Once he recuperated, his services were needed at Jack. He was stout in the run game all last season, but left some quick twitch to be desired on the outside. Jordan Wright and J.J. Weaver improved throughout the year, making Pachal’s move back a to three-point stance a no-brainer.
DEFENSIVE END/JACK LINEBACKER
1. Jordan Wright (6-5, 238, Jr.)
2. J.J. Weaver (6-5, 237, Fr.)
1. DeAndre Square (6-1, 217, Jr.)
2. Marquez Bembry (6-3, 217, Jr.)
1. Chris Oats (6-3, 231, Jr.)
2. Jamin Davis (6-4, 228, Jr.)
This might be the best one-two punch of any position on the team in 2020.
1. Boogie Watson (6-3, 224, Sr.)
2. Jared Casey (6-3, 224, Fr.) OR
3. Xavier Peters (6-4, 235, So.)
1. Davonte Robinson (6-2, 297, Sr.)
2. Tyrell Ajian (6-0, 195, Jr.) OR
3. MJ Devonshire (5-11, 175, Fr.)
Even without D-Rob, Kentucky’s pass defense was excellent in 2019. Even so, they really needed him at nickel. It was the only position where UK never found any consistency. Robinson will fill that role admirably this fall. In the spring they’ll try a few different prospects, maybe even Bossman Fat.
1. Brandin Echols (5-11, 178, Sr.)
2. Cedrick Dort (5-11, 182, Jr.)
1. Kelvin “Bossman Fat” Joseph (6-1, 195, So.)
2. Jamari Brown (6-1, 196, So.)
Bossman Fat brings plenty of hype to the Bluegrass. I wanted to pump the brakes on the Kelvin Joseph Hype Train. I’ve been told that is stupid idea. ALL ABOARD! BOSSMAN FAT HYPE TRAIN COMING THROUGH!
1. Yusuf Corker (6-0,195, Jr.)
2. Taj Dodson (6-1, 192, Fr.)
1. Quandre Mosely (6-2, 180, Sr.)
2. Moses Douglass (6-2, 204, Fr.)
Kentucky returns everyone but Jordan Griffin and adds a couple of four-star talents from Louisiana to the secondary. Mark Stoops will get to throw everything against the wall this spring to see what sticks.