The 2022 Kentucky football camp has been running for three weeks now as Mark Stoops is preparing his 10th team in Lexington for battle. The Wildcats enter the season as a top-20 squad and have high expectations with some important pieces returning to the roster.
Due to returning pieces combined with key adds in the transfer portal, most positions were accounted for heading into fall camp. After taking in spring ball, a few more spots were finalized. However, there were still some starting spots available.
A few of them are still undecided with a huge scrimmage looming on Saturday.
Left tackle is the last piece remaining along the Big Blue Wall
All signs point to former junior college transfer Jeremy Flax entering the season as the starter at right tackle. After a solid spring, the redshirt junior has had a good camp, and offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello double downed on that on Tuesday.
“I’ve been really happy (with) Flax on the right side. He’s had a really good camp and I’m excited about the way he’s playing,” said Scangarello. “There’s four guys taking a lot of the reps. One of them I know for sure, and the other three we’re gonna find out.”
That other spot has to be at left tackle. Redshirt sophomore Deondre Buford left the spring as the starter, but the former top-500 recruit has had an up-and-down camp. Redshirt freshman David Wohlabaugh Jr. and true freshman Kiyaunta Goodwin are also competing for time. With redshirt freshman Jager Burton emerging at guard, sliding three-year starter Kenneth Horsey out to tackle could be an option.
Regardless, Kentucky must find a guy at left tackle. We might see a committee approach at this spot early in the season if no one separates themselves from the pack.
Heated competition at Z receiver
In the spring, true freshman wideout Dane Key emerged and took over one starting spot at X receiver playing into the boundary. That seemingly has stayed the same throughout fall camp. At slot, Virginia Tech transfer Tayvion Robinson is still the guy.
Both of those were known. The biggest competition was at Z receiver.
DeMarcus Harris is now in year four in the program, but the veteran is being forced to hold off some young guns. Redshirt freshman Chris Lewis has been making a push, but true freshman Barion Brown continues to make a lot of noise throughout fall camp.
The wide receiver spots, as a whole, will have a healthy rotation. But who gets the first snaps against Miami (Ohio) is still unknown. If Brown continues to progress, it will be very difficult to keep the top-100 recruit on the sidelines.
Little details are known about the No. 2 cornerback
Carrington Valentine is returning for his junior season, and the Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller cornerback is one of nine players on defense returning who started a game last year. Kentucky needs the veteran to step up and be a dependable coverage player in the defense’s zone-heavy scheme this season.
Valentine will be a starter. His running mate is still unknown.
After spring practice concluded, Kentucky went to the transfer portal and added a pair of outside cornerbacks. Ole Miss transfer Keidron Smith is now a super senior and the South Florida native was brought to Lexington to compete for a starting spot with redshirt sophomore Andru Phillips.
Since camp began, true freshman Alex Afari has made some noise, and there will be a role somewhere for him on defense. We just aren’t sure if it will be in the box as Kentucky’s hybrid defender or outside at cornerback.
The safe bet is that this spot is currently a battle between Phillips and Smith. The coaching staff has been mum on who has the inside track. A platoon could happen early in the season.