Kentucky Football Preview
Kentucky’s 2019 season probably didn’t go how they expected it. With injuries at the Quarterback position that included presumed starter, Terry Wilson, they had to take a different route. Lynn Bowden Jr. was their most explosive athlete, so they put him at QB and used a wildcat approach for the rest of the season. This strategy got them by and helped them win some games and even though it was fun to watch it wasn’t going to be sustainable long term. Terry Wilson is back now in 2020 and he and Mark Stoops will want to make a run at the SEC East.
Now that Bowden is out and, in the NFL, Terry Wilson will resume his role as the starting Quarterback for the Wildcats. Wilson has been on NFL radars for a few years now. As a runner, he has some juice and has pulled away from defenses on multiple occasions. However, he needs to improve a lot as a passer. Joey Gatewood is another athletic QB that recently transferred in from Auburn. He looks to be the future of the position in Lexington.
Like I said, Lynn Bowden stole the show last year and was great for Kentucky on the ground. Asim Rose was another big contributor for Kentucky’s run game. At running back, Rose racked up 826 yards past season. He was able to showcase his talent for the first time in his career and now as a 5th year senior he’ll be looking to carry a bigger load and make even a bigger name for himself. Look for Kavosiey Smoke to also contribute in the running game behind Rose.
With the style of offense Kentucky played last season the wide receivers didn’t get to shine much. Before the switch to QB Bowden was the big name in the receiving corps. In an already run heavy offense there are a few Kentucky receivers that have a chance to step up and be the main target. The Wildcats have a good blend of different skill sets at the position to make for a well-rounded group. Josh Ali and Clevan Thomas Jr. are the veterans of the group and will get the first crack at the job. Allen Dailey Jr. brings some much-needed size to the receiving room and Bryce Oliver will also be in the mix. Both need to step up and prove themselves to have any shot to be the preferred target over Ali.
Justin Rigg will be the clear starter tight end going into the season. Rigg was a big part of the offense this past season. He was a blocker on most of his reps and you couldn’t tell the difference between him and the tough offensive line that Kentucky has, he’s a great blocker. Rigg has flashed potential as a receiver because of the size he brings to the table (6’6” 267).
When it comes to draft prospects the place to look for Kentucky is the offensive line. Logan Stenberg was a tough run blocker that came out last season and earned a Senior Bowl Invite. He was among some other good players on their line. The star of the group is center, Drake Jackson. Jackson is a 5th year senior and like Stenberg, he’s going to block until he hears the echo of the whistle and finish defenders into the ground. He’s one of the top interior offensive linemen in the nation. Landon Young and Luke Fortner are other upperclassmen that will start with Jackson and could heighten their draft stock next season. Kenneth Horsey and Darian Kinnard will round out the offensive line at left guard and right tackle, respectively. This is a very experienced unit that will again open up the run game.
The offense in Lexington looks to be a very experienced unit and that can also be said with the defense, especially the front 7. Their defensive line could start off with 4 seniors, regardless if they’ve been redshirted or not. Quinton Bohanna is the key name to watch on the d-line. He’ll hold down the interior with Phil Hoskins, a JUCO transfer from Highland CC. Kordell Looney is another veteran who could rotate in on the interior. Jordan Wright and Josh Paschal will likely start on the edge this season.
DeAndre Square and Chris Oats are returning at linebacker. The pair of juniors were quite productive for the Kentucky defense. Now that they are both draft eligible my eyes will be on them both every week this season. Square is the better of the two and will step into a leadership role in 2020. 5th year senior, Boogie Watson, will also see time at linebacker for a unit that’s going to need to be great against the run in the toughest conference in football.
The Wildcats were star studded in the secondary in 2018 and they all went in the 2019 NFL Draft. This past season was a rebuilding one when it came to the secondary, but this season it proves to be stout. Yusuf Corker highlights the group. He racked up 74 tackles last season, which led the team. Corker is a rangy free safety who will definitely be on the team’s radars. Head Coach, Mark Stoops, did a great job with bringing in transfers this offseason. Brandon Echols is a JUCO transfer from Northwest Mississippi CC and could contribute early on at corner. Across from him will likely be Cedric Dort Jr. at the other CB spot. Davonte Robinson will round out the group at the other safety spot making for an experienced secondary that will be tested by some explosive offenses in the SEC.