4 Intriguing Position Battles at Kentucky Football Fall Camp
Pads will soon be popping at the Joe Craft Football Training Facility. Kentucky football fall camp begins next week. Mark Stoops will not unveil the Wildcats’ week one depth chart until Aug. 29. Until then, a handful of positions are up for grabs, creating intriguing battles throughout the preseason.
LSU transfer Dare Rosenthal was an unexpected one-and-done at left tackle. He took a lion’s share of the snaps, and then some, in 2021, leaving plenty of question marks at the important position on the offensive line. Kentucky sought another replacement in the transfer portal, until Vanderbilt’s Tyler Steen ultimately chose to complete his college career at Alabama. Even without those two, Zach Yenser has some blue chip, albeit inexperienced, options.
Kiyaunta Goodwin is the most celebrated recruit in school history. The Louisville native was a top 20 prospect when he signed with the Wildcats in December. Goodwin arrived early for spring practice, but still needs to log as many reps as possible. David Wohlabaugh could also log significant snaps at left and right tackle in his second season on campus. The top candidate to start is former consensus four-star prospect, Deondre Buford. Even though we have not seen much from the Detroit native since he joined Kentucky’s 2020 recruiting class, Kenneth Horsey believes Buford is prepared to step into the role.
“I know what it’s like to not have much playing time and step out on the field,” Horsey said. “I take it as my responsibility to make sure that these guys know what’s in store for them because you can’t actually understand what to do and how you need to do it until you go through it. Being able to have older guys in the room to help you along the way is definitely helpful because I remember how helpful it was for me being able to play in between Landon [Young] and Drake [Jackson].”
Wide Receiver 2
Kentucky cannot replace Wan’Dale Robinson with one bell-cow receiver. Tayvion Robinson is expected to step into that role in the slot and act as Will Levis‘ primary target, but he cannot do it alone. Who else will step up for the Wildcats this fall?
Similar to left tackle, it’s an inexperienced, talented group. True freshman Dane Key popped during spring practice, recording a touchdown reception in the Blue-White Game. Another former four-star pass-catcher, Chris Lewis, is prepared to emerge after spending a year in the weight room. Barion Brown just arrived on campus, but his talent is undeniable. On the opposite end of the spectrum, DeMarcus Harris enters year four with a little momentum and his quarterback’s trust. Ideally, all of them find a way to contribute, but one must step up to clearly become WR2 for Will Levis.
Kentucky did not find an obvious answer at left tackle in the transfer portal. They did find one at cornerback. Former Ole Miss defensive back Keidron Smith will step right into the cornerback position opposite of Carrington Valentine. That does not settle the secondary equation for Brad White.
Cornerbacks do quite a bit of running. Finding a solid third option is imperative. Dru Phillips fits the billing, but he has competition. Jordan Robinson, Londyn Craft and a slew of underclassmen will get a crack at it in August.
Vito Tisdale was preparing to be an absolute game-wrecker for the Wildcats at nickel. Unfortunately, a spring knee injury will sideline him for the season. Kentucky found Zion Childress in the transfer portal to tag-team the position with former four-star signee Joel Williams. Either player should do just fine as a fifth defensive back in certain packages. If not, Kentucky has other schematic options.
Jalen Geiger will likely start at free safety, but he has experience at nickel. Against pass-heavy teams Geiger could slide into the box and let Jordan Lovett roam free at the back of the defense. Brad White also might not need to play nickel a ton. Injuries at edge forced his hand into playing more nickel last fall. This year JJ Weaver and Jordan Wright are back to 100%, with a couple of young four-star talents waiting right behind them. The Cats are always trying to get their best 11 players on the field and that might mean playing less nickel in 2022.