Cats' depth chart skews young, but team's confident seniors will lead the way

jsmith3@herald-leader.comAugust 27, 2012 

  • UK depth chart

    OFFENSE

    Tight end: Tyler Robinson (Jr.) or Ronnie Shields (So.)

    Left tackle: Darrian Miller (So.); Jordan Swindle (Fr.)

    Left guard: Zach West (R-Fr.); Teven Eatmon-Nared (So.)

    Center: Matt Smith (Sr.); Max Godby (So.)

    Right guard: Larry Warford (Sr.); Jack Gruenschlaeger (R-Fr.)

    Right tackle: Kevin Mitchell (Jr.); Trevino Woods (Sr.)

    Wide receiver: La'Rod King (Sr.); Demarco Robinson (So.)

    Wide receiver: E.J. Fields (Sr.); Aaron Boyd (Sr.)

    Wide receiver: Gene McCaskill (Sr.) or Daryl Collins (R-Fr.)

    Quarterback: Maxwell Smith (So.); Morgan Newton (Sr.)

    Fullback: D.J. Warren (So.); Cody Jones (Jr.)

    Tailback: CoShik Williams (Sr.) or Raymond Sanders (Jr.)

    DEFENSE

    Defensive end: Collins Ukwu (Sr.); Farrington Huguienin (R-Fr.)

    Defensive tackle: Donte Rumph (Jr.); Mike Douglas (So.)

    Defensive tackle: Mister Cobble (Jr.); Tristian Johnson (Jr.)

    Defensive end/linebacker: Alvin Dupree (So.); Taylor Wyndham (Sr.)

    Middle linebacker: Avery Williamson (Jr.); Jabari Johnson (R-Fr.)

    Weakside linebacker: Tyler Brause (So.); Malcolm McDuffen (So.)

    Linebacker/safety: Miles Simpson (So.); Josh Forrest (R-Fr.)

    Cornerback: Cartier Rice (Sr.); Fred Tiller (Fr.)

    Safety: Ashely Lowery (So.); Daron Blaylock (Fr.)

    Safety: Mikie Benton (Sr.); Dakotah Tyler (Jr.)

    Cornerback: Martavius Neloms (Sr.); J.D. Harmon (Fr.)

    SPECIALISTS

    Punter: Landon Foster (Fr.); Joe Mansour (Jr.)

    Kicker: Craig McIntosh (Sr.); Joe Mansour (Jr.)

    Kickoff returner: CoShik Williams (Sr.); Raymond Sanders (Jr.)

    Punt returner: Demarco Robinson (So.); Gene McCaskill (Sr.)

There's no question that Kentucky is a young team.

In the latest depth chart, released on Monday as Kentucky makes its final preparations for No. 25 Louisville this weekend, there are 23 sophomores, redshirt freshmen or true freshmen listed as either a starter or his backup.

But Kentucky's seniors also would say that UK's a team with enough veterans to carry the Cats through some growing pains.

There were 16 seniors listed on the two-deep roster, which gives Coach Joker Phillips some comfort.

"I've been saying from day one when we first got back together, I like the leadership we have at the top," Phillips said. "Those guys at the top are starting to bring some other guys up with them."

Senior center Matt Smith said this group of seniors has done what it could from even before the pre-season camp started to build a better Kentucky team.

"As a senior class we kind of took it upon ourselves to kind of get things moving. When the coaches weren't allowed to be around this summer, we kind of took it upon ourselves to be the coaches and get everybody caught up and on the same page."

The coach was careful to put some seniors into key positions, such as an all-senior starting wide receiving corps in La'Rod King, E.J. Fields and Gene McCaskill.

But don't be surprised to see youngsters such as Demarco Robinson, Daryl Collins and others getting a lot of early action.

Phillips said a couple of those guys aren't in the starting group because he wants to help them ease into the game comfortably.

"Those other guys will play," Phillips said when asked about Robinson not being a starter despite being a reported star in fall camp. "You worry about those guys getting big– eyed right off the bat. But they'll play. They'll play a lot."

Notable newcomers in starting or backup roles include punter Landon Foster, left tackle Jordan Swindle, cornerbacks J.D. Harmon and Fred Tiller, as well as safety Daron Blaylock.

Phillips was asked specifically about Foster, who will have loads of pressure on him as a starting punter on the road in his first collegiate game. But the coach didn't seem bothered.

"He can handle the pressure," Phillips said. "He's a different breed. ... He's a relaxed guy."

UK's defensive backs will be especially young. But Phillips is trying to stay optimistic. The coach, who has declined to discuss the freshmen until they play, did offer some glimpses into their ability on Monday.

"Daron Blaylock is the No. 2 guy at safety," Phillips said. "He's a guy that's really smart, really physical. ... He came in here. He's more athletic than we thought."

Harmon, who started at receiver, has made a good transition to corner.

"He's done an unbelievable job," Phillips said. "He's a real physical guy. He's a real long guy. Stronger than most freshmen that come in here in the secondary."

Fred Tiller likely will see time at the other cornerback spot.

"He's a guy that is a really smooth athlete, he's long," Phillips said. "He looks lean, but he's thicker than he looks."

Injury updates

It was confirmed that sophomore running back Josh Clemons (knee scoped) will not play against Louisville, but UK has not determined whether he will redshirt.

■ Tight end Jordan Aumiller has been battling plantar fascia and is listed as day to day. ... La'Rod King and Mister Cobble have been sitting out to allow them to recover physically from overuse, but the coach seemed pleased overall with UK's health going into the Louisville game.

"We are as healthy as we've ever been around here, and that's the key to success in this, the 2012 season," he said.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com, ukwomen.bloginky.com

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