Justin Jeffries returns as the starter at right tackle for the third consecutive year. A new face at tackle is Zipp Duncan, former starter at guard who's making the converstion to the outside.
Coming off off-season shoulder surgery, Justin Jeffries has regained his starting position at right tackle after missing spring practice. Still, there are few players on the roster as experienced as Jeffries and he should have little trouble maintaining his position.
Another highly experience player on the line is Zipp Duncan. The senior has previously played offensive guard, but his experience on the line has made him the best candidate to step out to left tackle, replacing Garry Williams. Duncan was so highly thought of in the preseason that he was voted third-team all-conference.
Kentucky also has a couple of experience backups in Billy Joe Murphy and Brad Durham. Both Durham and Murphy have started for the Wildcats in the past and have made progress over the spring, summer and here into fall camp. The staff is comfortable enough to place any of them into game action in needed.
Redshirt-freshman Trevino Woods is one the future offensive tackles who could see a lot of time as a sophomore. Woods is known as a hard worker and with his frame, he's capable of adding much more muscle. Woods was also a highly thought of prospect on the Scout Team, being named MVP of the offense in 2008.
Duncan and Jeffries are the starters at the left and right tackle positions, respectively. Behind them are quality players who've played significant snaps and have started in SEC play. At tackle, Kentucky's players are among the most experienced in the SEC and that experience can't be overlooked.
Kentucky's interior line has a nice mix of experience and youth and youth with experience. The return of Christian Johnson to the mix and the talents of the younger players has made this unit have high expectations.
Based on his 36 games played and 15 starts, Christian Johnson should be a no-brainer to start again at left guard. However, his suspension last season and what is sometimes conceived as poor work ethic has held him back. Still Johnson is a veteran player and still will likely get the starting nod.
One of the most talented linemen on the roster is Stuart Hines. With 12 games played under his belt, he's the probable starter at right guard after a good performance in the spring and thus far in fall camp. Last season right guard was a position in transition with several players in that spot due to injuries, but Hines is expected to solidify that spot.
Jake Lanefski will be a valuable backup on the line this year and could possibly become a starter when he's healthy. Last season Lanefski started four games at right guard, and also served as a back up center. Coming off an injury in fall camp, his progress has been slowed somewhat. How with his return to action soon, he will be in the mix for playing time at both guards and possibly center.
One of the few freshmen who probably won't redshirt is Larry Warford. Warford, cousin of corner Paul Warford has wowed the coaches with his footwork and his strength. While he has been slowed a little by the "freshman wall" he's still expected to see action this season.
Redshirt-freshman Dave Ulinski, the grandson of the great Wildcat player Harry Ulinski, will serve as a backup guard this fall. Ulinski has a powerful body and is capable of playing on the outside at tackle or the inside as a guard.
Kentucky has a fairly deep pool of talent at offensive guard. No player's position should be safe with the competition in place. Expect Stuart Hines to be a year-long starter with Christian Johnson or Lanefski starting most games on the opposite side.
Jorge Gonzales 6-3 300 Sr.
Matt Smith 6-4 285 RS-Fr.
Marcus Davis 6-1 290 Jr.
An interesting position to follow this fall camp has been the center spot. Remington Trophy Candidate Jorge Gonzales was suspended for the first game against Miami (Oh.). With that being the case, Matt Smith and Marcus Davis are competing for playing time and possibly the future of the center position.
With 13 career starts and 17 games played Jorge Gonzales is among a long list of experienced linemen on the Wildcat roster. However Gonzales violated team rules which put him in the coaches' doghouse. He is likely to return to his starting role after he serves his suspension, but it has made for an interesting battle for his backups.
After redshirting last season, Matt Smith is expected to compete for the starting role at center for the first game of the season and possibly take over full-time as a sophomore. Smith has the physical ability, but he's still learning the offense and working on timing issues. At this point he holds a narrow lead over walk-on center Marcus Davis for the backup role.
Davis has played in five games as a Wildcat and has a great understanding of the offense. While undersized, he has shown the ability to be a solid prospect at center and has done a good job in the time alotted towards trying to earn the starting role against Miami.
Gonzales will likely be the starter at center all season except for the first game, but look for Davis and Smith to continue to win the job as the backup center. Whoever wins that role will likely have the inside track to start at center next season.
John Conner 5-11 240 Sr.
A.J. Nance 5-11 256 Sr.
John Conner is widely considered one of the best fullbacks in the nation, is back for his senior year. Conner has started 15 games at fullback and played in every game since he was a freshman.
A converted linebacker, A.J. Nance has shown the willingness to put his body on an opposing player both as a blocker on offense and as a defender on special teams. Nance has played in every game since the 2006 season and will likely continue to do so during this season.
Both John Conner and A.J. Nance will be missed when they play their final games at UK. Both have contributed mightily to the progress that the program has made over the last several years. While Conner is the player with the accolades from the position, Nance has done a good job when called upon as well.
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