Christmas is on Tuesday, but Kentucky received some early presents when Steven Borden and Za’Darius Smith signed on to give some support to two of Kentucky’s weakest positions. Coach Stoops and his staff have their work cut out for them, but here are the top five gifts they should all be hoping for.
1. Another pass rushing defensive end
You could argue that the two best players in Kentucky’s 2013 signing class are defensive ends Za’Darius Smith and Alvonte Bell and very few would argue with you. Still though, Bell will only be a true freshman, Smith will be a junior, and the Wildcats’ only other pass rusher of note is junior Bud Dupree. Finding another junior college end for depth or another high school prospect to develop should be priority number one.
2. A junior college wide receiver
Kentucky has only six receivers on its roster heading into next season and many of them shouldn’t be counted on. Sweat and Legree are both finishing up promising but unproductive freshmen seasons, Cunningham played very sparingly, and Bookie Cobbins didn’t play at all. Demarco Robinson is undersized and hasn’t taken the reigns in his first two seasons and Daryl Collins has looked good in flashes, but has only one season of experience. The freshmen coming in will need some time to develop, so adding a JUCO receiver that is ready to go from the moment he steps on campus.
3. An outside receiver that is ready to play
It doesn’t really matter if this guy is a JUCO or a skilled freshman, but finding an outside receiver is crucial. Robinson and Collins are the teams two most polished receivers and both are really better fits for the slot. I have to think that one of Sweat, Legree, Cunningham, or Cobbins will emerge ad an outside threat, but just incase two don’t emerge, it would be beneficial to have a big target on the outside that’s ready.
4. A junior college corner
The epic mismanagement of the defensive backfield by the last staff led to the team having four (that’s right 4) sophomore corners and two redshirt freshmen. With the upperclassmen unlikely to be heavy contributors, adding a junior college corner will add depth to the roster without adding to the depth chart’s youth. If nothing else, a JUCO corner helps balance the classes out.
5. A pass-catching tight end
Adding JUCO Borden is great and all, but the fact remains that his addition just means that Kentucky has four senior tight ends and two juniors on the roster. As much as I like Darren Dowdell, he isn’t exactly as dangerous as a receiver as you’d hope for, so getting an athletic (even if undersized) complimentary player should be a priority.