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First Down Kentucky: New Names to Watch in the Transfer Portal

Nick Roushby:Nick Roush04/24/24


Transfer Portal Latest - April 24, 2024

We are just about 24 hours away from the start of the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit. Before the lives of football players across America are changed forever, the Kentucky football coaching staff is hard at work in the transfer portal.

A day after Peny Boone entered the fold, we learned about a new name who could join the Kentucky offense. New offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan is hosting Collin Schlee for an official visit, a quarterback who’s played at Kent State and most recently UCLA.

Most Kentucky fans expected the Wildcats to hit the portal hard for defensive linemen and cornerbacks. The Cats now have seven cornerbacks on scholarship following the departure of Jordan Robinson and a dozen defensive linemen, although it’s unknown how many of those on the DL will be healthy this fall. Take a closer look at the offense and you’ll see that only two quarterbacks are on the roster and four healthy tailbacks, two of which are freshmen. That helps explain why Hamdan feels this is a need that must be addressed.

One additional thing to consider: Hamdan prefers to play multiple running backs and will not hesitate to pull a quarterback. QB Taylen Green, now at Arkansas, was benched in the middle of last season, while Hamdan deployed two running backs who each tallied 100+ carries to combine for more than 2,000 rushing yards.

Intrguing Entry Into the Transfer Portal

Just because we haven’t talked much about cornerbacks and defensive linemen, doesn’t mean Kentucky isn’t doing its homework. Some cakes just take a little longer to bake.

On Wednesday evening DJ Waller Jr. entered the transfer portal. Remember him? The Youngstown native was recruited by Kentucky up until signing day before he ultimately committed to Michigan. It’s one of the last Marrow vs. Clinkscale recruiting battles that went in favor of the Wolverines. Now Clink is coaching the Chargers and Waller needs a new home, just when Kentucky could use a talented cornerback. Waller played in 11 games for the National Champs as a true freshman, tallying a dozen tackles and a pass break-up.

Kentucky Appears Out on a Defensive Lineman

Last week Kentucky was one of a dozen or so schools that contacted Brandon Lane once he hit the transfer portal. The FCS transfer was intrigued by the idea of playing in the SEC, but it appears he is heading for Big Ten country. He visited Washington and is now on a trip to Michigan State. Kentucky does not expect to get a visit from Lane.

Michigan State is attractive to Lane because departures from East Lansing have opened up a spot for playing time. Derrick Harmon, who initially entered his name into the transfer portal before withdrawing in the winter, is another name to monitor for Kentucky. The defensive tackle started in ten games last fall as a redshirt sophomore. In his career he has 71 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, and 3.5 sacks (18 yards), with two pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Anonymous Coaches Like Cats in the NFL Draft

Bruce Feldman has a wide range of sources in the coaching world. Ahead of the NFL Draft, he uses anonymous quotes to paint a picture of how the event will unfold. It’s not meant just for the top guys. Some of these coaches are big fans of former Kentucky Wildcats.

“He has great upside. Not a very good player now, but really athletic,” one coach remarked to The Athletic about Trevin Wallace.

“Really bright kid. He can play NFL nickel. Very good feel for zones,” one defensive back coach said about Dru Phillips. Another added: “I’ve got love for him. I think he’s got some of the best change of direction in the draft. My only knock on him was the tackling when he was inside there at nickel wasn’t great. But I think he can improve it. I do think he can cover the high-level slots in the league.”

A Playoff for the Group of Five?

The college football news that everyone is going to be talking about is that Reggie Bush is finally getting his Heisman Trophy back. His appearance at the Nissan Heisman House will be delightful, but it’s not going to change the sport. Administrators are cooking up something that could add a new, more defined tier to college football.

According to Chris Vannini of The Athletic, Derek Dooley is in discussions with private equity firms to fund the creations of a G5-only Playoff or potentially form a Group of Five Super League. The latter idea is more radical, but it might be the first thing that’s made sense in conference realignment. Rather than have teams from all over the country in the AAC, teams would receive larger TV payouts than they currently do while playing more opponents within their geographic footprint.

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