Last night I talked about how fans shouldn’t expect too much from the incoming freshmen and their impact on the 2013 season. I mentioned that several current players could surprise people who had written them off. The coaches have already said that they will have an open competition for every position this Spring and allow the freshmen to compete in the Fall. With no favorites (a common Joker Phillips complaint) or pre-conceived notions about players, everyone has a clean slate. Here a few players that under-achieved who could flourish under the new staff.
- Glenn Faulkner Sophomore Safety- This one is easy to guess. Faulkner is a former Army All-American who barely played as freshman because family issues forced him to enroll late, then redshirt last season due to injury. Assuming his ankle has healed, there is no reason to believe that Faulkner can’t finally capitalize on his vast potential. He could be the starting free safety this season.
- Eric Dixon Junior Cornerback- Dixon showed a lot of promise as a freshman but disappeared last season for some reason. He is considered a cornerback-safety “tweener” who likely fits best at safety in the new defense. Dixon has shown the instincts and tackling ability to be a solid contributor and possibly starter depending on how Faulkner turns out and where Ashley Lowery ends up.
- Jabari Johnson RS Sophomore Linebacker- Don’t lie, you probably forgot that Johnson was on the team before you read this. Johnson grey-shirted, then redshirted last year because of a shoulder injury. He has potential as a run-stuffing middle linebacker or a pass-rushing outside ‘backer like former Cat Johnny Williams. If his shoulder is healthy he could crack the two-deep and become a key situational player.
- Bookie Cobbins RS Sophomore Receiver- Any fan with a Twitter account knows Cobbins and his flamboyant personality. After struggling to transition from quarterback as a freshman, Cobbins got into academic trouble that caused him to miss last year. If he can get his grades in order Bookie has the athleticism to contribute in Neal Brown’s receiver-friendly offense. And as a former passer he can add a trick-play element.
- Anthony Kendrick RS Senior Tight End- Kendrick has always teased fans with his potential, usually putting together a great game near the end of the season. Last year he was another academic casualty, but wasn’t expected to be a major contributor anyway. In the past Kendrick’s downfall was his blocking, a must for a Pro-Style tight end. The Air Raid uses the tight end as a jumbo receiver instead, which plays right into Kendrick’s wheelhouse. Position coach Vince Marrow has already started praising Kendrick and if he can stay eligible, expect him to contribute in the passing game.
- Raymond Sanders Senior Running back- You are probably wondering how a part-time starter and last year’s leading rusher could surprise people with his performance next year. Well Sanders came to Kentucky with a lot of hype and high expectations. He battled injuries for two seasons before staying mostly healthy last season. Even so, he was always a poor fit for Randy Sanders’ offense, but that changes now. With excellent speed and soft hands, Sanders is custom-built to play in the Air Raid. If he can hold off freshman JoJo Kemp in fall camp and stay healthy, he should put up career numbers in the running and passing game.