The good news coming out of the UK football camp this fall was that projected UK starter, John Connor had accepted the challenge and added some serious weight to his 243-pound frame. The bad news is that the 5-foot-11 redshirt freshmen re-injured his ankle and is still going through rehab.
"I felt really good about the fullback position coming out of last year with John Connor," UK head coach Rich Brooks said, "but now that John is coming back from injury and is still not 100%, we're gonna have to take a look at some other guys."
The Wildcats were expecting to have incoming freshmen Maurice Grinter compete for the starting nod this spring, but per his request was moved to safety. That leaves Kentucky with a host of kids competing for a chance to lead the way for star running backs Rafael Little and Tony Dixon.
"Terrell Bankhead's another guy we're gonna take a look at and like at the position," Brooks siad. "He's gonna do some things for us this spring."
In an effort to add some additional depth, Brooks added some walk-ons to help add some more competition to the position. James Davidson, a 6-foot, 275 pound fullback out of Missouri City (Tex.) and Jesse Jones, a 6-foot, 220 pound freshmen from Doss High School in Louisville have joined the 'Cats this spring as walk-ons.
Currently they are listed fourth and fifth, respectively on the depth chart behind sophomore Thomas Flannery, a 6-foot-1, 231-pound fullback out of West Carter HS in Olive Hill (Ky.)
"We added some new kids to the program," Brooks said, "At this point, I'm still very high on John (Connor) doing the job. He's just got to get some confidence to run on that ankle."
Fullback is often a misnomer on offense, but it is clearly one of the most important attributes of a running offense. If UK can get Connor back and healthy, the expecation is for Kentucky to use a two-headed running back offense, thus lessening Little's role, as well as allowing Tony Dixon the opportunity to see the field.
The stocky running back from Alabama beat out the All-SEC selection from a year ago, as a true freshman, but missed last season after breaking his leg.
"He's a man on a mission," Brooks said, "It's almost like he's got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder because he was starting ahead of the guy who was fifth in the nation in all-purpose yards."
Even more impressive than the idea of UK having two of the more talented backs in recent history playing alongside of each other, but third string Alfonso Smith recently registered the fastest time on the team at 4.33 at UK's pro day.
When asked if Smith would see the field, elsewhere. "We'll see. The thing with Alfonso is that we've always known he can run," Brooks said. "All last year, I watched him run when there was a hole. I want to see him move the pile ... run when the hole's not there."
Brooks compared him to another UK running back that had a similar problem. "Arliss was the same way, when we first got here," Brooks explained. "He could run when there was a hole, but there wasn't, he was not effective. By the time he left here, he knew how to run when their wasn't a hole for him."