"Really, people have never talked about the line like this before. When UK was scoring all those points, we had guys like Jacob Tamme, Keenan Burton, Stevie Johnson and all those guys scoring all kinds of touchdowns and Andre Woodson throwing them," said Hines during the SEC Media Days Thursday. "We have guys now who have not made a name for themselves yet. They had good offensive linemen, too, on those teams, but now we are the guys making a name. It's kind of the opposite of before, so it's nice to see our unit get some recognition."
It's even better for Hines since four of the starters — guard Larry Warford, center Matt Smith, tackle Billy Joe Murphy and Hines — are all Kentuckians.
"There is a lot of pride behind that. We played football in Kentucky and have a lot of pride for our state and what we are doing and want to see Kentucky succeed more than anything," Hines said. "There is a lot of pride behind that. We eat a lot of Kentucky country food or there is something in the water. I?don't know what it is. Bunch of cornbread or something.
"And Chandler Burden, he's from Cincinnati, so we can almost consider him a Kentucky boy. He fits in well with us."
Hines, a preseason all-SEC choice, thinks having Smith back with a year of starting experience bodes well for the UK?line.
"That helps him a ton. One thing with center is having to see what happens on the defense and every call goes off what the center says. He has to get all the calls and still snap the ball," Hines said. "It is a struggle for him, but he took that role last year and really did a great job. He could be a great center this year."
He's also seen dramatic improvement in Warford, another preseason all-SEC pick.
"Honestly, he is just a natural at the position. He came in as a freshman and you could tell he would be a great lineman. He has great feet, a great center of gravity. It just seems like he is built to play offensive line," Hines said. "He has worked his butt off to get in shape and shed a few pounds and kept his weight down. He has done a great job doing extra stuff with coach Rock (Oliver) whenever he can. It's great to see a guy that dedicated to doing what he has to do to be a great player."