For the second straight season, Kentucky has lost its starting left tackle to injury before the first game.
Landon Young, a former Lafayette High School star, suffered a right knee injury during practice on Friday and will miss the rest of the season. Kentucky’s first game is on Saturday against Central Michigan.
The 6-foot-7, 305-pound junior had started in 15 games and played extensively in 26 of them. He was part of a team that had to replace Cole Mosier, who was supposed to be UK’s starting left tackle a season ago before a knee injury in a preseason scrimmage ended his Cats career. The news first was reported by Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio.
Unlike Mosier last year, Young does have a redshirt season that he can use and he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Together with Logan Stenberg, Drake Jackson, Bunchy Stallings and George Asafo-Adjei, Young was returning as part of a veteran offensive line that was expected to be a stabilizing force for UK as it breaks in a new quarterback this season.
He also is part of an offensive line unit that has been dealing with an unspecified health issue for position coach John Schlarman this preseason. Defensive lineman Josh Paschal has been out of preseason camp while battling a malignant melanoma found in his foot.
Possible candidates to step in for Young include right tackle George Asafo-Adjei, who has been discussed as having a strong preseason camp, as well as listed tackle backups including transfer E.J. Price and Naasir Watkins, a redshirt freshman.
Price did not participate during an open practice on Tuesday, with UK Coach Mark Stoops noting that the offensive lineman had some “lingering issues going on with both of his hands.”
Stoops added that it was “nothing that should keep (Price) out too long. It’s been off and on. He’s been out there and it’s bothered him again and he’s kinda had some setbacks.”
A release sent out by Kentucky confirming the Young injury said Stoops will discuss the situation more at his regularly scheduled news conference to preview the season opener against Central Michigan on Monday.
After Tuesday’s open practice this week, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran discussed the prospect of the Cats being able to go as deep eight or nine players this season on the offensive line.
“I think you’ve got a chance for nine. I really do,” Gran said. “Right now we think nine are playing winning football. We’ll see how that goes here in the next couple of days. The evaluation process never ends. We’re evaluating every day.
“So guys move up, guys move down. We just want to make sure winning football. 20 snaps a game, it’s huge. If we can do that like we did two years ago then I think we can really help ourselves.”
Young, a Rivals five-star recruit, was a multi-sport star. He won state championships in wrestling and track and field.