Well, it is officially game week in the Bluegrass and Mark Stoops will be meeting with the media tomorrow at noon. Before that, UK will share their first depth chart of the fall season and we’ll finally get a better understanding regarding all of those position battles we’ve talked about over and over during this extended fall camp.
Of course, the Wildcats are returning 17 starters so there is not too much mystery but how the two-deep turns out will show us what players are poised to be key rotational pieces this season. Now it’s time to take our best educational guess on how the depth chart will shake out. Football is finally here.
- Terry Wilson (6-3, 202, Sr.)
- Joey Gatewood (6-4, 221, So.) or Beau Allen (6-2, 207, Fr.)
As expected, Terry Touchdown opens the season as QB1 for the Wildcats and there is no denying that he is one of the biggest leaders on the team after being elected a captain for the second season in a row. The Wildcats are still awaiting news from the NCAA regarding Gatewood’s waiver, but true freshman Allen makes an appearance after a very strong camp. Don’t be surprised if the Lexington Catholic product gets snaps this season.
- A.J. Rose (6-1, 214, RSr.)
- Chris Rodriguez Jr. (5-11, 224, RSo.) or Kavosiey Smoke (5-9, 201, RSo.) or JuTahn McClain (5-9, 187, Fr.)
Rose will get the first crack as the top returning rusher, but this will be a position that sees a lot of bodies. Rodriguez feels like the guy at No. 2 while Smoke and true freshman McClain will all get their fair share of snaps. There is a lot to like about Eddie Gran’s position room.
- Allen Dailey (6-3, 208, Jr.)
- Izayah Cummings (6-3, 228, Fr.)
This is the spot where you’ve seen physical wideouts such as Dorian Baker and Ahmad Wagner in the past as the X typically lines up away from the tight end into the boundary and must have a physical presence to beat press man coverage. Dailey proved to be an excellent edge blocker last season and is looking to take a jump. Cummings is an early candidate for playing time as a true freshman due to his very high potential as a blocker.
- Josh Ali (6-0, 193, Sr.)
- Clevan Thomas Jr. (5-11, 193, RJr.) 0r Michael Drennen II (5-11, 190, Fr.)
Ali returns as UK’s top wideout with 36 career receptions. After playing Z in his first three seasons, he will slide down to slot and should be the top target in the passing game. Thomas brings plenty of experience to the position while Drennen is a big time playmaker who UK will want to force feed touches.
- DeMarcus Harris (6-1, 183, RFr.) or Bryce Oliver (6-1, 215, RSo.)
Perhaps the biggest late riser in camp, Harris feels like he has won the coaches over and thanks to new position coach Jovon Bouknight having a clean slate, he wins the starting nod at the outside wideout spot that will be targeted on vertical routes. Oliver comes in a close second after a solid camp.
- Justin Rigg (6-6, 263, RSr.)
- Keaton Upshaw (6-6, 234, RSo.)
Rigg and Upshaw should really be considered co-starters as Kentucky will be rolling with 12 personnel (one running back, two wide receiver, two tight ends) very frequently. Rigg is that solid in-line blocker while Upshaw can line up out wide and make vertical plays. Brenden Bates has made a move in camp and is pushing for playing time as a redshirt sophomore and former high three-star recruit.
- Landon Young (6-7, 321, RSr.)
- Naasir Watkins (6-5, 305, RJr.)
Young, the former top-100 recruit, is entering his final season with 19 starts under his belt and is receiving All-SEC recognition in the preseason. Meanwhile, Watkins has been this team’s third tackle for awhile now and will provide quality depth.
- Kenneth Horsey (6-3, 300, RSo.)
- Jeremy Flax (6-6, 356, So.)
Logan Stenberg leaves behind a pretty big hole at this spot and Horsey will get the first crack at it as the opening day starter. Meanwhile, Flax was one of the highest ranked recruits in the 2020 class and the junior college transfer has made a push late in camp.
- Drake Jackson (6-2, 292, RSr.)
- Quintin Wilson (6-1, 294, RSo.)
Jackson has started 33 consecutive games for the Wildcats and the first-team All-SEC center is a Rimington Trophy candidate. He might be the most valuable player on the team. Meanwhile, the coaching staff is really high on Wilson and he might be able to contribute at either guard spot.
- Luke Fortner (6-6, 300, RSr.)
- Austin Dotson (6-6, 313, RJr.)
As a first-year starter, Fortner turned into one of the better guards in the SEC and he’ll compete for all-conference honors this season on top of having a great chance at hearing his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft. Dotson has been one of the biggest stories in camp as the Belfry native is set to get playing time for the first time in his career.
- Darian Kinnard (6-5, 345, Jr.)
- Nick Lewis (6-9, 320, RSo.)
Kinnard is all set to be the program’s first three-and-done offensive lineman as the right tackle is an absolute force who should have NFL scouts drooling this season. Mammoth of a man Nick Lewis lost a lot of bad weight in the offseason and is looking to entrench a spot for when both Kinnard and Landon Young move on to the professional ranks.
- Phil Hoskins (6-5, 315, Sr.)
- Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald (6-6, 296, RJr.) or Isaiah Gibson (6-3, 302, RFr.)
Hoskins had to miss all of last season with a right knee injury and was granted a sixth-year of eligibility from the NCAA in the offseason. He has big time potential as an interior pass rusher and will be looking to fill the void left by Calvin Taylor Jr. Abadi-Fitzgerald was an effective rotational piece last year and will have another similar role in 2020. Gibson redshirted in 2019, but the high three-star has a load of potential.
- Quinton Bohanna (6-4, 357, Sr.)
- Marquan McCall (6-3, 379, Jr.)
Bohanna figures to be one of the best nose men in the country and the coaching staff is optimistic the senior is due for a huge senior season. McCall has all kinds of potential and improved stamina will allow him to get more snaps. True freshmen Octavious Oxendine and Josaih Hayes could both factor in at this position.
- Josh Paschal (6-3, 278, RJr.)
- Kordell Looney (6-3, 290, RSr.)
Paschal finally moves to hand-in-the-dirt defensive line for the first time in his career and the former blue-chipper has all kinds of play-making ability. Looney has played a ton of games and will be a quality backup to a player playing a brand new position.
- Jordan Wright (6-5, 233, RJr.) or J.J. Weaver (6-5, 241, RFr.)
The most heated position battle of camp occurred at Paschal’s former position and I think it is safe to say both Wright and Weaver could be considered co-starters. Wright flashed his potential last season (27 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks). Meanwhile, Weaver has all of the tools to become an impact player.
- DeAndre Square (6-1, 224, Jr.)
- Jared Casey (6-3, 221, RFr.)
Square became a primary starter beginning in the 2019 Citrus Bowl and led the team with solo tackles last season. Everyone is expecting a big year from the Detroit native. Casey is cross-training at both Mike and Will in order to provide some depth at inside linebacker.
- Jamin Davis (6-4, 234, RJr.)
- Marquez Bembry (6-3, 232, Jr.)
The spot that would have been owned by Chris Oats now belongs to Davis after a very effective season as a reserve. He’s set to play a lot of snaps. Similar to Jared Casey, Bembry is cross-training at both inside linebacker spots to provide depth.
- Boogie Watson (6-3, 244, RSr.)
- K.D. McDaniel (6-2, 250, RFr.)
Watson needs just six sacks to become a top-three pass rusher in program history and is another 2021 NFL Draft prospect on this roster. Expectations are high for the EDGE player with 18 career starts. McDaniel has a ton of potential to be a force in run support after redshirting last year.
- Brandin Echols (5-11, 178, Sr.)
- Cedrick Dort Jr. (5-11, 182, RJr.)
Both Echols and Dort ended the season as starters combining for 14 pass break-ups with a big question mark becoming a strength of the defense by the end of the season. This year they’ll be competing for playing time, but expect a healthy rotation at corner.
- Quandre Mosely (6-2, 185, Sr.)
- Tyrell Ajian (6-0, 190, RJr.)
After many thought Mosely could be UK’s starting nickel, the junior college transfer found a nice home at safety as he excelled in pass coverage. Ajian has played a bunch of football for UK and has two career interceptions.
- Yusuf Corker (6-0, 197, RJr.)
- Taj Dodson (6-1, 198, RFr)
Corker became one of UK’s most impactful defensive players last year as UK likes to let their guys at free safety play downhill and be a force player in run fits. The former blue-chipper led the team in tackles and will be a high-level player. Dodson flashed before injury caused him to take a redshirt in his first season on campus.
- Kelvin Joseph (6-1, 192, So.)
- Jamari Brown (6-1, 201, RSo.)
Joseph was a transfer that got everyone excited as Bossman Fat may be the most popular player on the team in the fanbase outside of Terry Wilson. Expectations are high for the former LSU Tiger. Brown recorded 7 pass break-ups last season and brings size to the position.
- Vito Tisdale (6-1, 200, Fr.)
- M.J. Devonshire (5-11, 182, RFr.)
The 2020 recruiting class will produce one opening day starter and it ended up being a high three-star out of Bowling Green. Tisdale has balled out all camp and has drawn Mike Edwards comparisons from his head coach. I’m giving him the nod at nickel while we’ll finally see Devonshire after the injury bug kept him away from the field last season.
- Matt Ruffolo (5-11, 205, Sr.)
- Chance Poore (6-2, 208, RSo.)
After platooning last season, walk-on Ruffolo has beat out scholarship kicker Poore for the starting spot. With Grant McKinniss moving on to Missouri, Poore will handle the kickoff duties. Ruffolo has shown a big leg, but this will be a position battle we could monitor throughout the season.
- Max Duffy (6-1, 190, Sr.)
Nothing really needs to be said about the best punter in college football. #PuntToWin.