On the first day of spring practice, you could hear a low current buzz by onlookers and an occasional head shake in the negative or a head drop. Phillips admitted he was very concerned with what he was seeing. What had looked like drooped shoulders from the weight of uncertainty, on day 15 were once again square in optimism. Hartline has a very slight edge primarily because of experience and command of the line of scrimmage. Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski made huge strides. So much so the battle will be carried over into fall practice.
OFFENSIVE LINE: O-line coach Mike Summers said before spring practice started he had four out of sixteen offensive linemen that were SEC ready. As the spring progressed those numbers started to increase somewhat primarily because of the switch of Chandler Burden and over from defense to the left tackle spot. The last seven practices, Billy Joe Murphy beginning to make a push. Not especially happy with the size and or play at the center position, expect to see the injured Jake Lenefski to make a strong push. Another new name Trevino Woods started to emerge over the last few days. RUNNING BACKS:
Derrick Locke is Derrick Locke and only needs to get to the games on Saturdays. He's running with his pads lower to avoid taking to many hits. Donald Russell and Jonathan George respectively line up behind Locke. Mike Simpson, Brandon Gainor, and Raymond Sanders will report in the fall. Could be a deep group with quality. WIDE RECEIVERS: This group gives Kentucky a chance to score some points and especially in overtime games. Receivers coach Tee Martin said Chris Matthews is the type of receiver that he were quarterbacking he'd like to be throwing to. "He's a big receiver that moves like a little man,"Martin said. He mentioned Matthews in the same breath as Plaxico Burress. LaRod King continues to improve, Randle Cobb ll is just a dynamic player, Gene McCaskill makes plays, Matt Roark, Aaron Boyd, and E. J. Fields need to continue to come.
Tight end presently is just a pinch better than last year with Nick Mellilo who has great hands but doesn't have the bulk to be a great blocker. Redshirt freshman Anthony Kendrick has the bulk and the hands but so far hasn't shown a penchant to block, as is necessary. Hotshot incoming freshman Alex Smith seems to have taken up residency in Lexington given the regularity he's seen and not just around the practice field. He could make a push in the fall.
The defensive ends should be in good shape when September rolls around. DeQuin Evans is going to be a senior and leader; Taylor Wyndham will be back in the fall; Collins Ukwu, who is no longer a boy and now a man, according to the coaches, made an impression in the spring. Joker Phillips said when redshirt freshman Tristian Johnson gets into shape, he will be an impact player; sophomore Ridge Wilson, much like former player Johnny Williams, will double up at d-end in passing situations. Defensive tackle has some potential but is still a concern. Mister Cobble will be one to watch, ala Myron Pryor. Joker Phillips said potential means you haven't done it yet. We now know that Donte Rumph will definitely be here to bolster that group.
This is a group that lost a lot of experience and leadership in Micah Johnson and Sam Maxwell. Joker Phillips has been looking for a replacement for that leadership. In the spring game Danny Travathan took a huge step in that direction. Phillips said he was all over the field. Ridge Wilson is making a strong push to take over the sam-linebacker spot. He just needs to play with a more sense of urgency. Qua Huzzie hasn't yet been ordained as the mike-linebacker but is making a strong push to beat Ronnie Sneed out. In either case that position will have a strong backup.
This group is pretty set with only one safety position still being up in the air. Winston Guy, who Joker Phillips seems to have the kind of relation with that he can crack jokes about. Guy had his first interception and Phillips said Guy has one more interception than he had when he played but he played receiver (smiles). Phillips knows Guy has professional ability and is steadily prodding him to get it out of him. Guy, in a lot of ways mirrors Dicky Lyons only with more ability. Josh Bibb and Dakotah Tyler are battling for the other safety position. Mycal Bailey is expected to challenge for the position in the fall. The corners are in good shape.
Beyond punting, not enough work is done to merit any breakdown.