Depth Chart Musings

Some quick-hitter thoughts on Kentucky’s pre-fall camp depth chart, which was released Monday in the Wildcats’ new media guide:

• The Cats really need another offensive tackle to come along and be ready to play at a high level, whether it’s senior Teven Eatmon-Nared, redshirt freshman Kyle Meadows or junior Shaquille Love. UK has two clear-cut starters in senior Darrian Miller on the left side and junior Jordan Swindle on the right side, but there is very little experience behind them. Eatmon-Nared showed some good signs in the spring, and has the size you’d like for an SEC lineman at 6-foot-7, 339 pounds. Meadows, one of the top signees in Mark Stoops’ first class, probably has more raw talent, but has been working on adding bulk to his frame. He arrived in Lexington around 265. He’s up to 294 now, per the new depth chart. A great sign from UK’s strength and conditioning program.

• Tight end remains a mystery. Steven Borden, best known to date as the son of professional wrestling legend “Sting,” has a shot to start writing his own legacy as he enters fall atop the depth chart. Fellow senior Ronnie Shields has a lot of experience and brings some nice receiving skills to the table. But it could be incoming freshman Darryl Long who makes the biggest impact, if he picks up the offense quickly.

• You really get a staggering reminder of how thin the UK receiver corps is when you see it on paper in front of you. There are only five scholarship players, and a couple of them have been recovering from surgery: Ryan Timmons, T.V. Williams, Javess Blue, Rashad Cunningham and Alexander Montgomery. Freshmen like Dorian Baker, Blake Bone, Garrett Johnson and Thaddeus Snodgrass have a golden opportunity to crack the three-deep awaiting them.

Kentucky’s defensive line looks to have a lot of options – with defensive end being the best I’ve ever seen it while covering the team over 20-plus years, but the linebacker corps is anyone’s guess. The staff mixed and matched players all spring looking for answers, but did not emerge from those 15 workouts with a clear-cut guy at middle linebacker or weakside linebacker. Blake McClain looks like a good bet to be the nickelback, but the other two spots will be a toss-up. I’d be surprised if juco signee Ryan Flannigan – one of the most physically gifted athletes at the position – does not emerge as a starter, even though he’s yet to play a down in practice at UK. Guys like Josh Forrest, TraVaughn Paschal, Khalid Henderson and Daron Blaylock will likely battle it out for the other spot.

Mike Edwards’ surgery and postponed enrollment is a blow at cornerback. The Cats enter the fall with only five true corners: Fred Tiller, J.D. Harmon, Cody Quinn, Nate Willis and Jaleel Hytchye. That’s pretty thin, considering how many offenses spread you out with 4-wide and empty-backfield sets these days. There is very little margin for an injury. I don’t think the staff envisioned either Jared Tucker or Kendall Randolph playing early, but one or both of them may get that opportunity.

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