The Kentucky Wildcat Spring Football Game is finally here. After a full year on the job, now is when we should begin to see the impact of Mark Stoops and co. will have on this program going forward.
While this is essentially a glorified scrimmage, it also provides us a preview of things to come in the upcoming season.
Last year, some of the biggest performers from the Spring Game were Jalen Whitlow, Za’Darius Smith and Bud Dupree, all three of which went on to become key players in the 2013 season.
We also saw the emergence of Reese Phillips, once though to be nothing more than a third or fourth-stringer, looked like a SEC quarterback, and one year later, is now in the thick of the race for the starting job.
With that said, we gathered the KSC staff to get their thoughts on who will be the players to watch in this year’s Spring Game.
Jason: Defensive tackle Cory Johnson
With UK graduating defensive tackles Mister Cobble, Donte Rumph and Tristan Johnson last year, UK head coach Mark Stoops had to find a player capable of making an impact on the interior for his defense.
That is where Johnson comes in. The 6’3″, 282-pound d-lineman was regarded as one of the top JUCO DT prospects, and has been on campus and part of the offseason weightlifting program as he gets acclimated to the team.
Johnson came to UK after two years at ASA Junior College where he had 49 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks.
With senior defensive ends Za’Darius Smith and Bud Dupree coming off the edge, Johnson will be getting a lot of favorable matchups and opportunities to make a play while Dupree and Smith are the ones opposing offenses will be focused on blocking.
I am just looking forward to seeing the growth of the team from last season to this year. A good preview of the next season is what I am hoping for. I am also excited to see all the new players already on campus, plus the transfers that had to sit out last season. It’s going to be a lot more exciting and we hope to have a lot of fun. Be sure to cheer on my Fantasy Team. Go Team TJ!
Brad: Running Back: Braylon Heard
It’s been a long time since UK had a dynamic playmaker like Braylon Heard. A former 4* rated running back that originally committed to Nebraska, Heard has now had a year off from being redshirted, and is ready to make a contribution for UK this fall.
With the lack of depth at wide receiver, and the plentiful depth at running back, I expect the running backs to have a huge impact on the passing game this season, led by Braylon Heard. He’s big, fast, and can absolutely hit the home runs that this offense needs heading in to the fall. If UK is going to come close to getting to a bowl game this year, it starts with Braylon Heard being the type of dynamic back that can get UK in to the end zone consistently.