Dec 2, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops spoke to reporters during a press conference at the Nutter Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcat Football: Predicting Red-Shirts

With all of the buzz regarding Kentucky’s 28th ranked recruiting class and new coaching staff under Mark Stoops, many fans can’t wait for football season to start. Consider for a moment that this is February, the home stretch of basketball season. A combination of the excitement surrounding Stoops, the great recruiting class and the basketball team’s struggles have the BBN abuzz with the Spring Game and possibilities for the 2013 season.

Kentucky fans love three things: winning, recruiting and Twitter. Most UK fans are relative newcomers to football recruiting but played a major part in the 2013 class, impressing many prospects and dispelling the “basketball school” reputation among recruits. Numerous recruits have been said how surprised they were by the Kentucky fans. Now that 22 new players are set to join the program this Fall, fans have high expectations for them. So which ones will see the field this fall? A lot of it depends on how the veterans develop during Spring practice and Summer workouts but here is an early prediction on who plays and who redshirts.

  • Za’Darius Smith (plays)- He was signed to not only play but step in and start right away.
  • Jason Hatcher (plays)- Part of the reason Hatcher chose the Wildcats was the opportunity for playing time. He is simply too talented to ride the pine.
  • Marcus McWilson (plays)- Another example of talent being hard to ignore, expect McWilson to be no worse than 2nd string this Fall.
  • JoJo Kemp (plays)- Kemp was sold on playing time during recruiting and he can contribute in some many ways that he will likely be on the field early and often.
  • Alvonte Bell (redshirts)- A few months ago, there was no way Bell wouldn’t play as a frosh, but a combination of injury and the Hatcher and Smith signings should allow him to redshirt.
  • Jaleel Hytchye (plays)- Hytchye could really use a year to bulk up but he is very talented and confident. He won’t start but he could contribute in sub-packages and on special teams.
  • Kyle Meadows (plays)- Offensive linemen should almost always redshirt but a combination of Meadows size, talent, and Kentucky’s lack of quality line depth should help him avoid sitting out.
  • Alex Montgomery (plays)- Montgomery is a rarity in Lexington this year as a big-bodied outside receiver. That alone should guarantee him playing time.
  • Khalid Thomas (redshirts)- Thomas was thought to be the gem of this class when he committed, but if he stays at running back expect him to redshirt with all of the depth UK has.
  • Ryan Timmons (plays)- Expect Timmons to be all over the field this fall as a runner, receiver and return man. He is dynamic in a way no other player on the roster is.
  • Javess Blue (plays)- Much like Smith, Blue was signed to be a starter. After watching his highlights, it’s easy to see why. Blue might lead the team in receiving this year.
  • Nick Haynes (redshirts)- Haynes has only played two years of football. And he has never played his likely college position of guard.
  • Jacob Hyde (redshirts)- Hyde certainly has the size to hold up in the SEC as a freshman but he is a bit raw and Kentucky has a lot of depth at DT, so expect him to redshirt.
  • Blake McClain (redshirts)- McClain may be transitioning to safety, after playing corner in high school. If he stays at corner expect him to fight it out with Hytchye to see who plays.
  • Nate Willis (plays)- As long as his academics hold up, expect Willis to step into a starting role right away. Very confident, he expects to play well enough to weigh pro options next offseason.
  • Jeff Badet (plays)- Badet needs to bulk up, but the Air Raid requires a lot of receivers to run smoothly and Kentucky only has ten. He should show enough in the slot and on returns to play.
  • Justin Day (redshirts)- The coaches, especially Schlarman, are very high on Day but he is very raw and needs as much development as possible.
  • Austin MacGinnis (plays)- Usually a freshman place-kicker wouldn’t be favored to beat a senior to start but Joe Mansour has had three years to prove he can be effective and hasn’t.
  • Ramsey Meyers (redshirts)- Meyers could probably contribute as a freshman, but there simply isn’t a need at this point. Again, it’s always a good idea to redshirt lineman.
  • Reese Phillips (redshirts)- Phillips will go through Spring ball as an early-enrollee but has little chance to win the starting job. He is transitioning from the Wing-T to the Air Raid.
  • Steven Borden (redshirts)- This one is based simply on depth at the position. Kentucky has six tight ends and if Borden doesn’t take the starting job, he may as well redshirt.
  • Regie Meant (redshirts)- Meant is the mystery man of this class. Very unheralded he could use a year to refine his skills. Expect him to contribute down the road though.

Tags: Football Kentucky Wildcats

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