Notable Absences at the Kentucky Football Spring Game

Nick Roushby:Nick Roush04/13/24

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The Kentucky Football Spring Game transformed into a Kentucky football spring practice after injuries decimated the defense. Mark Stoops said he had eight defensive linemen out, but who actually is stuck on the sideline this spring? We learned the names Saturday afternoon at Kroger Field.

Before reading too much into this, a disclaimer: tons of players undergo surgery as soon as the season ends, sending them to the sideline for the duration of spring practice. A player’s absence now does not mean there will be lingering issues once fall camp starts.

Deone Walker sported his No. 0 jersey while walking the sidelines in shorts. To be frank, Kentucky’s All-American defensive lineman doesn’t need spring practice. What he needs is an offseason of conditioning to prepare him to play as many snaps as possible. That’s why in an interview he told the Kroger Field crowd that he’s trying to get down to 330 pounds after playing most of last year at 345.

Kentucky is thin at nose guard. Keeshawn Silver did not dress and Josaih Hayes was not spotted from the crow’s nest at Kroger Field. Redshirt freshman Kendrick Gilbert and Octavious Oxendine did not participate in Saturday’s practice.

The secondary is just as banged up. Starting safeties Jordan Lovett and Zion Childress were unavailable. At cornerback the Cats were without second-year transfer JQ Hardaway and two true freshmen, Quavo Marshall and Terhyon Nichols. The latter was one of the highest-ranked recruits in the 2024 class. There was a hope that he could use this spring to compete for immediate playing time this fall, but that no longer appears to be the case.

The final defensive absence identified: former four-star prospect Jayvant Brown, a redshirt freshman linebacker. Another linebacker, D’Eryk Jackson, made some plays before he got rolled up on. He spent some time on the turf before limping to the sideline.

The offense was not immune from injuries. As previously noted, offensive tackle Courtland Ford and wide receiver Ja’Mori Maclin have not been participating in practices. Running back La’Vell Wright announced his intention to enter the transfer portal this week, but was hanging out with his teammates on the sideline. Ben Christman missed the entire 2023 season with a knee injury. Today the Ohio State transfer was dressed and going through drills, but did not play live reps during the 11-on-11 team period.

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