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Kentucky Wildcat football: Post spring depth chart: Defense


By Kyle

With spring practice wrapped up, the depth chart is a little more solidified now. I’ve been keeping a running account of who’s moving up or down and things should be set for the time being. Here’s my final take on the depth chart and this is assuming the season started tomorrow.


Left End – DeQuin Evans – SR
Evans had a solid season in 2009 but needs to work hard to increase his sack totals for the upcoming year. While depth has been built up at his position, he still should have the upper hand on the younger players. Keep an eye on red-shirt freshman Tristian Johnson to emerge as a top backup and situational pass rusher behind Evans. He had one of the better springs of the position group.

Right End – Taylor Wyndham – SO
He could have really used spring practice to help build on a good freshman year, but Wyndham sat out to recover from injury. If he’s fully healed up, he should remain the starter at the right End position. Collins Ukwu has mad strides and has clearly physically benefitted from coach Oliver’s training program. Wyndham can still be considered the favorite to start for now, but not by much.

Defensive Tackle – Ricky Lumpkin – SR
Lumpkin isn’t the most impressive defensive lineman that Kentucky has fielded over the past few years but he brings experience and a high football IQ to the table. This spring he had some great days and should build on an up-and-down junior season. Shane McCord should offer a battle-tested backup if Lumpkin were to go down with injury.

Defensive Tackle – Mister Cobble – FR
I’m usually not a fan of pegging redshirt freshmen as starters after spring practice because so much can happen between spring and summer to give the upperclassmen the upper hand. Watching Cobble play this spring makes me wonder why his offer list wasn’t significantly longer. He clearly has the talent to disrupt the offensive plays in the backfield and it’s hard not to notice his superb footwork that he undoubtedly gained from wrestling as a high school athlete. His lead on junior Mark Crawford is slight, but I can’t help but wonder if he’ll be the next great Defensive Tackle for Kentucky that hails from Louisville.

Weak-side Linebacker – Danny Trevathan – JR
This is probably the easiest position on defense to call. Trevathan played well as a sophomore despite multiple injuries and has done nothing to lose his job. He appears to have taken a leadership role with the defensive unit and his explosive speed allows him to chase down runners and stay with backs and Tight Ends.

Middle Linebacker – Qua Huzzie – FR
Again, not a fan of pegging a red-shirt freshman as a potential starter, but Huzzie’s talent is immense. He had one of the best spring sessions of anyone on the team and it’s hard not to be reminded of a young Wesley Woodyard when you watch him play. It’s easy to see why coaches were so high on him before his injury last year. Still, Ronnie Sneed is a talented player and shouldn’t be counted out of the competition just yet. You can expect a wrench to be thrown into the gears when freshman Avery Williamson arrives this summer and throws his hat in the ring.

Strong-side Linebacker – Jacob Dufrene – SR
After the success Sam Maxwell saw as a senior (after playing predominately special teams for most of his career), there’s no reason to believe that Dufrene can’t see success in his first shot at the full time starting job. He provides a veteran presence in what could be an extremely young corps of linebackers, and makes up for what he lacks in size with good speed and anticipation. Of all the defensive positions, this one is the most up in the air though. If things click for sophomore Ridge Wilson, he could be one of the best Kentucky has had at this position in years, but he should see the field as a pass rusher regardless of whether he can beat out Dufrene as the full time starter or not. The dark horse might be sophomore William Johnson. He’s the smallest of the group, but was a special teams standout this past season and brings speed and athleticism that the other two don’t appear to have.

Cornerback – Randall Burden – JR
Burden had a good but injury filled campaign in 2009. He should have a good year in front of him and looked (by far) like the most confident corner of the group this spring. His playing style reminds me a lot of Trevard Lindley’s, but he brings a swagger that you want the defensive backs to have to the table.

Cornerback – Paul Warford – SR
With the younger players really coming around, it might be harder for Warford to hold onto his starting spot than most had initially thought. Cartier Rice was one of the surprise standouts this spring and Martavius Neloms looks to have solidified his spot as one of the top four corners as well. Warford has had some ups and downs in his career, but it would take a ridiculous showing during camp this summer for Neloms or rice to unseat him. With the defense so stocked with young talent, Warford’s experience and leadership should prove to be the deciding factor.

Strong Safety – Josh Gibbs – JR
The expectations for Gibbs were pretty high this spring and he certainly lived up to them. He showed more athleticism than UK fans have seen from his position in a while and should provide a ball-hawking option to compliment his defensive back teammates. This is far from a done deal though as Taiedo Smith and Jarvis Walker both looked great as well. Adding Mychal Bailey to the mix this summer should make this one of the most intense position battles on the team.

Free Safety – Winston Guy – JR
It has been well documented on this site and others that Guy has a history of missing open field tackles because he attempts to deliver the big hit instead of wrapping up. Donald Russell showed that this problem isn’t quite fixed during the spring game when he broke through an attempted tackle by Guy for a huge gain. As the best athlete of the safeties, Guy didn’t have to worry too much about losing his job this past season. With the emergence of Smith and Walker, plus the addition of Dakotah Tyler to the defensive backfield, things aren’t going to be so sure for him. I still think it would take a near miracle for guy to lose out to someone else, but it’s a lot more likely now that quality depth has been built at safety.

So that’s it folks. The roster should be shaken up a bit more this summer and a lot of players tend to step up and make a name for themselves during camp, so even the most secure job could be at risk. One thing is for sure though, and that’s that this team is as talented as any we’ve seen since 2007 and probably the deepest since Brooks took over.

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