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Kentucky Wildcats Football: Analyzing the 16 underclassmen on the depth chart


Much has been made about the level of talent in the past two recruiting classes, and with the recent release of Kentucky’s two-deep, the level of athlete the Wildcats have brought in is becoming even clearer. The depth chart posted on Kentucky’s official website shows four true sophomores, five redshirt freshmen, and seven true freshmen either starting or serving as the primary backup at their position. Here’s a quick recap of the guys that Kentucky fans should get to know quickly.

#11 – Maxwell Smith – QB – FR – 6’4 / 220 – Van Nuys, CA

It already feels like Smith has been around forever, but he’s still just entering his true freshman season. He actually committed to Kentucky in 2010 and sat out with a grayshirt before enrolling this past winter. He was able to participate in limited bowl practices and complete the spring practice sessions and currently sits at number two on the depth chart. Smith has all the physical tools you look for in a quarterback and he has a very bright future ahead of him at Kentucky. Look for the Cats to work him in on Thursday if they can get a decent lead on the Hilltoppers.

#4 – Raymond Sanders – RB – SO – 5’8 / 205 – Stone Mountain, GA

Sanders came into the program with a great deal of hype after playing the game of his life on ESPN in front of the entire country. It took him almost no time to ascend the depth chart and he even started last season when Derrick Locke was injured. He finished camp as the starting running back for the Cats and part of the reason he might be so tough to unseat is his ability as a receiver out of the backfield. Look for Kentucky to utilize him through the passing game just as much as they do through their rushing attack.

#20 – Josh Clemons – RB – FR – 5’10 / 201 – Fayetteville, GA

When the Georgia bulldogs put all their eggs in the Isaiah Crowell- basket, Kentucky had Clemons fall into their laps. Clemons is the prototypical every-down back that teams covet and in addition to his ability to get the tough yards between the tackles, he’s also been clocked at sub-4.4 speed. After losing Derrick Locke to graduation and Donald Russell to a transfer, it was important for Kentucky to add another running back to the rotation and it’s looking like Clemons will pay immediate dividends for the Wildcats. Clemons is currently listed as the number two running back on the depth chart.

#39 – D.J. Warren – FB – FR – 6’0 / 230 – Alcoa, TN

The Alcoa-to-Kentucky pipeline started with Kyrus Lanxter, then went to Randall Cobb, and then to Tyler Robinson. Warren was a little bit of a head-scratcher when he signed with Kentucky as a last minute addition to the class, because he was listed as a six-foot tall defensive end by most recruiting services and didn’t receive a rating higher than two stars. A couple of months later, the move makes perfect sense. Warren has the prototypical body of a fullback and has made enough of an impact this summer to leave camp as the starting fullback for UK. For those wondering, Alcoa high School is 4-for-4 on having their alumni play as true freshmen for Kentucky.

#9 – Demarco Robinson – WR – FR – 5’10 / 159 – Ellenwood, GA

It’s hard to mention Robinson without bringing up all of his accomplishments in Georgia. He holds just about every major record for receivers and got those by playing against the top competition in the state. His task will be much taller now though, and speaking of taller, if he were 6’1, he would have probably been offered by every school in the SEC. Despite his size, Robinson is a proven playmaker and has worked his way into one of the backup receiver positions behind Gene McCaskill on offense, and is a backup punt and kick returner on special teams. He knows how to produce, and Kentucky will need him to hit the ground running.

#89 – Tyler Robinson – TE – SO – 6’3 / 252 – Alcoa, TN

Pretty much every UK fan out there assumed that heralded recruit Alex Smith would play as a true freshman and maybe even win the starting tight end job. Tyler Robinson was as much of an afterthought as any player to sign with the Cats in the 2010 class and the majority of speculators predicted a move to defense or the offensive line. Things didn’t play out that way. Robinson came into camp and proved himself at every opportunity, eventually leading to him starting by the Tennessee game. Robinson is currently listed as the number two tight end on the depth chart, but with the emphasis the Wildcats are expected to put on the two tight end sets, he should be on the field plenty.

#77 Darrian Miller – LT – FR – 6’5 / 297 – Lexington, KY

Miller committed to Kentucky early in the process last season, and might have been the most under-appreciated member of the 2011 class. Considered a top-20 offensive tackle nationally by, he had early offers from Alabama and Tennessee, but stuck with the Wildcats to the very end. After arriving on campus, he performed so well in camp that Eatmon-Nared was moved to right tackle and Miller is currently listed right behind senior Chandler Burden at left tackle. The sky is the limit for Darrian and we may be talking about him leaving for the NFL going into his junior year.

#76 – Teven Eatmon-Nared – RT – FR – 6’7 / 332 – Bucyrus, OH

After playing tight end in high school, Eatmon-nared was moved to tackle shortly after arriving in Lexington. A year and about 50 pounds later, he has transformed into a mammoth of a man and is situated as the backup right tackle. Eatmon-Nared should see plenty of playing time, as Kentucky has traditionally rotated guards and tackles in and out a lot, so he should go into the 2012 spring practices as the projected starter at his position.

#99 – Donte Rumph – DT – SO – 6’3 / 308 – St. Matthews, SC

A lot of teams would have given up on Rumph when he failed to qualify originally. Then, when he failed to qualify out of prep school, even fewer teams would have held out hope. Not Joker and his staff though, and their patience was rewarded. Rumph was able to play his way into the playing rotation as a freshman last season, and finds himself atop the depth chart this fall as one of Kentucky’s starting defensive tackles. He will be one of the most versatile members of the defensive line unit, as he will likely be required to play defensive end when the Cats switch to a 3-man front, but Rumph has overcome so much already, I doubt he has an problems. He could be one of Kentucky’s most dominant defensive performers this season and into the next few years.

#50 – Mike Douglas – DE – FR – 6’4 / 250 – Largo, FL

If there really was a ‘Look” test, Douglas would get an A+. He came to Kentucky a little bit light to play defensive end in the SEC, but used his redshirt season to beef up to an athletic 250 pounds. Expect Douglas to see plenty of time on the field this fall despite being listed as a backup defensive end. He Douglas will have to add even more weight and strength if the Wildcats ever make the move to the 3-4 defense out of their current hybrid scheme, but he has the type of versatility that will allow him to contribute in different ways. As Kentucky’s most athletic option at defensive end, he should be wreaking havoc in opponents’ backfields for years to come.

#2 – Alvin Dupree – OLB – FR – 6’4 / 229 – Irwinton, GA

Dupree said from day one that Kentucky was recruiting him as a defensive prospect, but many fans (and Jon Davis) refused to believe that based on the fact that all the recruiting services listed him as a tight end. Now it’s obvious that Joker wasn’t pulling anyone’s leg and after a very brief stint on offense, Dupree is listed as the backup to Ridge Wilson at Kentucky’s linebacker/defensive end hybrid. With a rare blend of size and speed, Dupree is sure to be one of Kentucky’s best defenders as his career progresses.

#40 – Avery Williamson – MLB – SO – 6’1 / 229 – Milan, TN

When he first arrived on campus, all the coaches could talk about was how ridiculously strong Williamson was for a freshman. He was able to work his way into the backup middle linebacker job and onto the special teams units and will fill both of those roles again this year during his sophomore campaign. However, if senior Ronnie Sneed falters, the staff should have no problem inserting Williamson into the lineup after Sneed narrowly beat him out this summer.

#54 – Malcolm McDuffen – OLB – FR – 6’3 / 217 – Hopkinsville, KY

After playing too many different positions to count in high school, McDuffen has really taken to weak-side linebacker and is currently listed as Danny Trevathan’s top backup. McDuffen used his redshirt season to settle in to his role and he has continually been praised by the coaching staff as one of the breakout performers of this offseason. Realistically, he might even be starting if he weren’t behind a player of Trevathan’s caliber. While he will still need to add some weight to his frame before he’s a full-time starter, McDuffen has a sky-high ceiling and should see extensive time on special teams this year.

#34 – Dale Trimble – CB – FR – 5’10 / 160 – Gadsden, AL

Trimble was not cleared to join the Kentucky football team until just before the start of camp last summer and he probably would have played as a true freshman (in lieu of redshirting) if he had. Not making it at first might end up as a blessing in disguise in the long run though, because now he will have four years of eligibility remaining and will be a projected starter from his sophomore season on. Trimble has the type of speed and athleticism needed to be a shutdown corner in the SEC, but will need to add a couple of pounds to help him hold up against the bigger receivers. He will see extensive action on special teams this season though and should be on the field whenever the offense goes to a four or five receiver sets. He will be a projected starter at cornerback going into spring practices next year.

#32 – Miles Simpson – S – FR – 6’2 / 214 – Independence, KY

When Simpson committed to Kentucky on national signing day last year, he did so as a running back prospect. But as time passed, Kentucky saw depth build at running back and weaken on defense. Since signing with the Cats, Simpson was moved to the safety/linebacker hybrid position behind Winston guy and where he would have likely been buried at somewhere between fourth and seventh on the depth chart on offense; he’s catapulted up to second string in only his redshirt-freshman season on defense. The hybrid role should allow him to utilize his blend of sped and strength to terrorize offenses for years to come.

#5 – Ashely Lowery – S – FR – 6’1 / 200 – Cleveland, GA

He drew attention to himself hurdling defenders as a running back, but Lowery was set to play in the defensive backfield before ever arriving on campus. While fellow classmate Glenn Faulkner was fighting through clearinghouse issues, Lowery took advantage of the extra practice reps and worked his way up the depth chart at safety. Now additional roster attrition has thinned out the rotation at safety and Lowery is in the mix for playing time as a true freshman this season. If Taiedo Smith’s recent injury is more serious than coaches are letting on, there’s a chance we could see Lowery starting against WKU. Regardless of whether he starts or not, there’s little doubt that Lowery will be tough to keep off the field for years to come.

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