Just like Jarmon, Cats have to move on

No clear front-runners to fill holes on the line

Herald-Leader Staff WriterMay 24, 2009 

The news of Jeremy Jarmon's career-ending positive test for a banned substance undoubtedly sent shock waves through the Wildcats community.

To the media, Jarmon has been one of the most affable and personable Wildcats to deal with, and in an era when many professional athletes run and hide from such situations, let's give Jarmon credit for facing up to his mistake at Saturday's news conference.

But for Rich Brooks and company, the show must go on. And now the Kentucky coaching staff must spend the next few months figuring out what to do at a defensive end position that figured to be thin even before Jarmon was ruled ineligible by the NCAA.

In addition to Jarmon, the Wildcats also lost three key players to graduation: Liberty Bowl hero Ventrell Jenkins, who started alongside Jarmon; top reserve Nii Adjei Oninku; and Johnny Williams, who moved up from strongside linebacker in passing situations.

UK doesn't have a defensive end on its roster who has made a tackle, much less a sack, in a collegiate game. Chandler Burden did see limited action in six games as a true freshman.

Here's a list of possible candidates to fill the voids next fall:

DeQuin Evans: A four-star recruit and the nation's 15th-ranked junior-college prospect by Rivals.com, Evans was being counted on to challenge for a starting job before Jarmon was ruled ineligible. The 6-foot-3 260-pounder had 71/2 sacks in 15 games over two seasons at Los Angeles' Harbor College and will arrive on campus in June.

Chandler Burden: A mammoth 6-4, 294-pounder who's one of the strongest players on the team, Burden struggled with technique during his backup stint as a rookie. There had been talk of eventually moving Burden inside to tackle, but Jarmon's departure probably means he'll remain outside for the time being, especially after an impressive two-sack performance in the Blue-White Spring Game

Collins Ukwu: Athletically, Ukwu fits the bill as a speed rusher off the edge. He's a long and lean 6-foot-5, and he put on more than 30 pounds during his redshirt year to get up to the 250 range. Ukwu is still very raw and has yet to play in a college game, so there will probably be growing pains. Had a forced fumble in the Blue-White game.

Taylor Wyndham: The former high school linebacker is tall and rangy at 6-4, 224. He still needs to get stronger, but he showed enough in the spring that he should compete for a rotation spot.

Donte Rumph: The three-star prospect out of high school who received offers from Clemson, Virginia Tech and Tennessee is a wild card. He signed with Kentucky in 2008 but spent last year at Fork Union Military Academy. Rumph still must get a qualifying test score to become eligible to report to UK this summer, but if he makes it, expect him to see him on the field this fall.

Greg Meisner: He has missed two seasons at UK because of shoulder injuries but was a pleasant surprise in the spring. A bit undersized at 6-1, 233, Meisner plays with a high motor and solid leverage. He had three tackles, a pass breakup and a sack in the Blue-White Spring Game.

Patrick Ligon: Like Jarmon, Ligon is from the Memphis area. He already has the size to contribute at 6-4, 265 and had 21 tackles for loss and eight sacks as a high school senior. Originally thought to be a redshirt candidate, he might have to play as a true freshman, especially if Rumph doesn't qualify.

Lindley, Johnson in SEC top 30

Cornerback Trevard Lindley and linebacker Micah Johnson were listed among the Southeastern Conference top 30 players by Chris Low of ESPN.com.

Lindley was rated No. 8 among the league players, including all positions. Lindley was a second-team All-American last season and a consensus first-team All-SEC pick. He made four interceptions and 11 pass breakups, leading the SEC in total passes defended per game.

Johnson was No. 28 on the list. He was a first-team coaches' All-SEC choice last year, totaling 93 tackles despite missing 21/2 games because of injury.

Gonzalez on Rimington Watch List

Senior Jorge Gonzalez has been named to the pre-season watch list for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the top center in college football. Gonzalez was named the team's most improved offensive player last season. As a unit, the offensive line ranked fourth nationally and led the SEC in fewest sacks allowed.

Four to play as graduates

Four Kentucky football players will play their senior season in 2009 having already received their bachelor's degrees at last weekend's graduation ceremonies:

■ Tight end Ross Bogue, community and leadership development, will work toward a second major or begin studies toward his master's in business administration

■ Offensive tackle Zipp Duncan, kinesiology, will work toward a second major

■ Cornerback Trevard Lindley, art studio, will work toward a second major in Family Studies

Mikhail Mabry, kinesiology, will work toward a second major.

Dennis Johnson Football Camp

The annual Dennis Johnson Football Camp will be held July 1-2 at the Nutter Field House. The camp will be from 8 a.m.-4 p.m and is for ages 7-14. Lunch will be provided. Among those appearing at the camp this year include former UK standouts Jared Lorenzen, Keenan Burton and Craig Yeast, along with ex-Eastern Kentucky star and NFL tight end Jason Dunn. Those interested can register and get more info at dennisjohnsonfootball.com. Early registration (by June 1) means a 10 percent discount. The cost is $100 per camper (25 percent off for multiple family members).

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

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