All of the freshmen are enrolled and participating in Kentucky’s training camp right now, and all are doing their best to work their way up the depth chart. Typically, Joker starts true freshmen out in the depth chart in the third spot and lets them work their way up or down. There are some players that will have to start higher than that as well. Here are the top five guys that I think will make a big impact in their first season here this fall.
Fred Tiller – Cornerback
You could really insert any of the cornerbacks here. We all know about Marcus Caffey and all that by now, so it will be imperative that some of Kentucky’s young corners step up to play. Jonathan Reed and Cody Quinn look like talented players, but I’m picking Tiller to stand out above all the rest due to his blend of size and athleticism. Tiller has the size to match up with perimeter receivers in the SEC and the jets to run with them. Even though it’s partially due to abysmal depth at his position, I don’t know if anyone will have as good of a chance to make an early impact as Tiller.
Demarcus Sweat – Wide Receiver
The receivers were not impressive last season, and losing Randall Cobb a year early ended up hurting much more than originally anticipated. Sweat comes in at a time when there is plenty of playing time up for grabs and has quickly turned heads in camp. It seemed like every recruiting analyst that watched him all year said he was rated too low, but he never seemed to get bumped as high as he deserved. I think Kentucky has happened upon a real sleeper here, and fans may not really understand yet. When a sophomore quarterback requests to room with a freshman receiver, that’s really saying something.
Khalid Henderson- Linebacker
I don’t know why, but I don’t think Malcolm McDuffen has a stranglehold on the weak-side linebacker job. It seems like the staff is really looking for someone to wow them, and they’ve gotten solid-if-unspectacular play so far from the guys already on the roster. Well, replacing Danny Trevathan is going to be no small task and whoever fills the role will need to hit the ground running,. Henderson is a clone od Danny, so he’s got that going for him, and he has the skill-set that made Trevathan so valuable and versatile early in his career. Even if Henderson doesn’t win a starting job, he has a great chance to play early on special teams and situationally.
Jordan Swindle – Offensive Tackle
I also don’t think the staff is overly enamored with Kevin Mitchell and/or Trevino Woods at the right tackle position. Both guys are under 290 pounds and are considered undersized for the job by SEC standards. Additionally, the staff hasn’t ever seemed to glow when talking about either. If Swindle can come in and prove that he has the physical strength to hold up in this conference, he could snag the job away from a junior and a senior in his first season. Keep in mind that he’s already taller and heavier than both Mitchell and Woods. If there’s a weak link in the offensive line, it’s got to be the right tackle spot, and Swindle could be the guy that strengthens it.
Landon Foster – Punter
This is sort of cheating, because everone and their mom knows Foster will be UK’s starting punter. Joker has been hinting to this since he coimmitted and the dissappointing spring/summers of Joseph Mansour and Jay Whilmot at punter have left the door wide open. It’s not like punting in the SEC will be easy for the true freshman, but the learning curve is much shallower for specialists than it will be for the quarterbacks and other positions. If Foster can play to even half of the level that Ryan Tydlacka did last season, Kentucky will be in good shape moving forward.