With all the negativity following the end of the football season, I wanted to remind everyone of the good things we have going forward. It’s a long year, making it easy to only remember the bad. With the way the season ended, it’s not uncommon to forget the good things so that’s why I am here to remind you. So let’s begin.
Chris Westry is going to be a star
It’s not easy to cover some of the very talented wide receivers in the SEC as a true freshman, but Chris Westry did. Westry had a quiet second half of the season, but showed what will likely be a tremendous four years at Kentucky. Westry won SEC Defensive Player of the Week following Kentucky’s win over South Carolina. He was the difference maker in the game, intercepting the Cocks’ on their final possession of the game to seal the victory. Westry also broke Dak Prescott’s interception record by picking off the Mississippi State QB off in the second quarter of the Bulldogs’ win over the Cats. Westry was targeted a lot due to his inexperience, but he showed he can hang with some of the best receivers in the SEC.
The secondary will be much improved moving forward
Derrick Baity, Mike Edwards and Darius West are all freshmen that worked their way into staring roles this season over veteran players. Instead of giving up and conceding to backup roles, they battled in practice to earn a starting spot. That shows a lot of determination and character from young players that we haven’t seen the field before. Before Stoops arrived, Kentucky’s secondary struggled to keep up with lengthy SEC receivers. The experience that these freshmen encountered this season will only help them in the long run. The four names listed will be key for the defense moving forward and defending the pass.
The offensive line is only losing one starter
Left tackle Jordan Swindle is the only member of the offensive line that will be graduating this year. Zach West, the backup left guard behind Nick Haynes, will also be graduating. Let me remind that it is very rare to see a true freshman play on the offensive line. Kentucky had to do that with George Asafo-Adjei (Big George). Big George played well at times, but also made some rookie mistakes while battling injuries. Things will only get easier for the young offensive lineman (and the whole OL) as he becomes more accustomed to the size and scheme of SEC defensive lines.
Even though the offensive line looked like they couldn’t block someone’s grandma, I refuse to believe that will be the case next year. With hard work and more reps with Drew Barker in the offseason, things can only go up from here.
The incoming recruiting class
Many people are worried that how the end of the season went, recruits are going to reconsider their decision to come to Kentucky. Thankfully we have not lost a recruit due to the end of the season (knocks on wood). It appears that most, if not all, of the recruits are still ALL IN. With back-to-back 5-7 seasons, the coaching are still recruiting some of the best talent around the country (Thank you Vince Marrow!).
According to 247 Sports, Kentucky’s 2016 recruiting class is ranked 24th in the nation and 9th in the SEC. Look at the full list of commitments here.
It might be hard to be optimistic going forward, but hopefully this helps. This season wasn’t entirely a negative. Hopefully the young players have learned the lesson and will not have to experience it again. Go cats.