UK NOTEBOOK

QB battle will extend into fall

Freshmen could push Hartline for job

Herald-Leader Staff WriterApril 25, 2009 

  • Schedule

    Times to be determined;home games in CAPS

    Sept. 5 vs. Miami (Ohio) at Cincinnati

    Sept. 19 Louisville

    Sept. 26Florida

    Oct. 3 ALABAMA

    Oct. 10 at South Carolina

    Oct. 17 at Auburn

    Oct. 24La.-Monroe

    Oct. 31Mississippi State

    Nov. 7Eastern Kentucky

    Nov. 14 at Vanderbilt

    Nov. 21 at Georgia

    Nov. 28Tennessee

Now that the University of Kentucky football team has completed spring practice, the focus will shift to summer school and summer workouts. Here's a position-by-position spring wrap-up:

Quarterback

Mike Hartline wasn't spectacular, but he did enough to keep his hold on the No. 1 job going into the fall. The quarterback battle will heat up in the summer months when freshmen Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski arrive on campus.

A pleasant surprise was Will Fidler, who had his best spring as a Wildcat running the second team. Expect to see Randall Cobb in the 'Wildcat' package this fall regardless of who the regular quarterback is. This position battle will be a hot topic all the way up to the season opener against Miami (Ohio).

Running back

Senior Alfonso Smith will get his first chance to be the No. 1 tailback heading into fall. A slimmed-down Moncell Allen had a nice spring game and now must take care of business in the classroom to make sure he's eligible.

Derrick Locke's first real test of his surgically repaired knee will come in June.

Redshirt freshman walk-on Coshik Williams put himself on the map with a nice spring and could be in the mix depending on what happens with Allen and Locke.

At least one true freshman figures to see the field. Keep an eye on Florida native Donald Russell.

Wide receiver

Cobb certainly had the look of a No. 1 receiver when he started taking contact.

Kyrus Lanxter, E.J. Adams, Gene McCaskill and Eric Adeyemi were the other regulars in the rotation. Junior-college signee Chris Matthews was in town for the spring game. In addition to looking like a legitimate 6-foot-5, he also reportedly ran a sub-4.4 40-yard dash recently.

Walk-on transfer Nick Melillo was a revelation and could leapfrog some people on the depth chart. Brooks said a couple of young receivers who don't make the rotation might redshirt next fall.

Offensive line

There was a lot of shuffling going on up front this spring, and that should continue in the fall. Christian Johnson, Jake Lanefski and Stuart Hines figure to battle for the two starting guard slots. Zipp Duncan still needs to get used to the left-tackle position, particularly from a pass-blocking standpoint. The right-tackle battle should be interesting. Returning starter Justin Jeffries missed the spring following shoulder surgery and will have to hold off Brad Durham and Billy Joe Murphy. Redshirt freshman Dave Ulinski showed his versatility by moving to tackle after starting the spring at guard. The Cats have enough depth to be able to redshirt signees Sam Simpson and Larry Warford.

Tight end

One of the biggest developments of the spring was Ross Bogue shooting up to No. 1 on the depth chart ahead of fellow seniors T.C. Drake and Maurice Grinter. The Cats should have plenty of depth, as DeAunte Mason moved over from quarterback and Chris Cessna made the transition from linebacker. Signees Anthony Kendrick and Terrell Mitchell have the talent to contribute as freshmen.Defensive line

The Cats have three-fourths of the equation solved. You know what you're getting with end Jeremy Jarmon and tackle Corey Peters, and Ricky Lumpkin should be fine moving into the starting lineup replacing Myron Pryor at tackle. Junior-college transfer Mark Crawford will provide a third option at tackle once he gets in shape and learns the system. And don't be shocked to see incoming freshman Mister Cobble make a push for playing time at tackle as well.

The most pressing issue was finding a competent second end, but Brooks has been pleased with youngsters Chandler Burden, Collins Ukwu and Taylor Wyndham. Junior-college transfer DeQuin Evans will be expected to contribute immediately, and Donte Rumph is capable of playing end or tackle.

Linebacker

The Cats lost two solid veterans in Braxton Kelley and Johnny Williams, but there might not be much of drop-off. Sophomore Danny Trevathan looks like a potential big-time player on the weak side. Sam Maxwell, a solid reserve the past three seasons, should be fine on the strong side. And Kentucky will have one of the nation's best in the middle in senior Micah Johnson.

Depth does need to be developed. Jacob Dufrene, Will Johnson and Mikhail Mabry got most of the backup reps in the spring. Signees Qua Huzzie, Ridge Wilson and Ryan Mosby are coming this summer.

Secondary

Kentucky looks to be in great shape in the defensive backfield. Trevard Lindley had nothing to prove in the spring, but the players around him stepped up and showed that the secondary could be a real big strength in 2009. Sophomore safety Winston Guy looks like a future star, and sophomore corner Randall Burden showed he's ready to step into the lineup opposite Lindley. Veteran corner Paul Warford will be back in the fall after a foot injury. Brooks singled out sophomore safety Matt Lentz as a guy who's been impressive. The nickel package features two young talents in Cartier Rice and Taeido Smith.

Special teams

Lones Seiber and Ryan Tydlacka missed long field-goal attempts in the Blue/White Game. The Cats also don't have a guy capable of emulating the booming kickoffs of Tim Masthay. A couple of positives: Tydlacka averaged a respectable 43 yards on four punts, and there's potential in the return game. Guy had a 96-yard return against Georgia last year and Cobb is a dangerous punt returner. Even Trevathan, a linebacker, had a 31-yard kickoff return in the Blue/White Game. "When's the last time Kentucky's had a linebacker fast enough to return kicks?" Brooks said.

Chip Cosby covers UK football for the Herald-Leader. This article includes his opinions and observations. He can be reached by e-mail at ccosby@herald-leader.com.

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