1. Is There A Quarterback Competition?
It's hard to suggest that anyone other than Stephen Johnson should be considered Kentucky's starting quarterback heading into spring practice after he came out of the proverbial bullpen to save the Wildcats' 2016 season when Drew Barker went down with a back injury in Week 3. Johnson led
2. Who Emerges in UK Backfield?
Kentucky will return one of the nation's most productive running backs in the form of Benny Snell Jr., who rushed for a UK freshman-record 1,091 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. The Cats know what they have in Snell, a powerful, between-the-tackles runner who can keep the chains moving and a fantastic red-zone back. The big question is can they find the same kind of quality depth that they had following the departure of Boom Williams and Jojo Kemp? Williams was a "home-run threat" anytime he touched the ball, and Kemp was the rugged, reliable veteran who came up with big plays every time one of his teammates was injured or simply needed a blow. Rebuilding that kind of depth will be a major priority for UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, who will give a long look to junior Sihiem King, redshirt freshman A.J. Rose and early enrollee Bryant Koback this spring. The 5-foot-9, 172-pound King has some of the same break-away attributes that Williams had, while the 6-1, 212-pound Rose is a versatile run/catch option. Koback (6-0, 193) suffered a broken leg during his senior year, but has been timed under 4.4 during his high school career.
3. Can The D-Line Take A Step Up?
The Cats appear to be rock-solid at linebacker and the secondary heading into 2017. There are some big-time stars on the back end of the defense with guys like All-SEC linebacker Jordan Jones, hybrid end/linebacker Denzil Ware, outside linebacker Josh Allen, and safety Mike Edwards. The key to those guys being able to maximize their talent may hinge upon the play of the defensive line. Naquez Pringle (39 tackles, 2 TFL in 2016) showed signs of being a force at nose tackle as the season progressed, and many junior college players make a big jump between their first and second years in the program, so he's one name to watch. Another is former U.S. Army All-American Matt Elam, who will somehow be entering his senior year. It seems like just a proverbial yesterday ago that he was committing to the Cats over Alabama. Things have yet to come together for the 6-foot-7, 360-pound mountain of a man, but he's still got time left to write a storybook ending in a year when many regional and national observers think UK could be a darkhorse pick in the SEC East. Senior Jacob Hyde, juniors Tymere Dubose and Adrian Middleton (5.5 TFL in 2016), and redshirt freshmen Ja'Quize Cross and Kordell Looney will also be under the microscope this spring as the Cats attempt to get tougher on the interior.
4. Best Group of DBs in UK History?
Fans may someday look back on the 2017 season as the Golden Era of defensive backs at Kentucky. On paper, it's the