Kentucky Football: The Wildcats’ offensive line depth was built through great recruiting

Michael Hickey, Getty Images
Michael Hickey, Getty Images /

Kentucky Football has built themselves a very respectable offensive line.

Mark Stoops has put an emphasis on recruiting the trenches on the offensive side of the football. The Kentucky Football offensive line is one of the best in the SEC. In 2016, an offensive line unit led by center Jon Toth, lead the way for two 1,000 yard rushers. Benny Snell and Boom Williams benefited from a stout unit up front.

Now, in the past few recruiting cycles, the Wildcats have loaded up on top of the line offensive line talent.

The Inaugural 2013 Class

Mark Stoops very first haul of players included three eventual starters on the offensive line. Ramsey Meyers, Kyle Meadows and Nick Haynes all came to campus in 2013. Meadows and Haynes will enter their redshirt senior seasons atop the preseason depth chart. Meadows will hold down the right tackle starting spot entering the fall. Also, Haynes, who along with Meadows as well as Meyers, played a significant role in the huge offensive rushing attack in 2016. Haynes enters the fall as the top spot on the depth chart at right guard.

The 2014 Class

In 2014, Stoops and company reeled in Jervontius “Bunchy” Stallings from Birmingham, Alabama. Now, Stallings will enter the fall as the starting Center in his redshirt Junior season. Stallings played a ton of snaps at right guard in 2016 in a common offensive line rotation.

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The 2015 Class

Backup offensive linemen Logan Stenberg and George Asafo-Adjei were apart of the 2015 recruiting class. Those two individuals also see a significant number of snaps in John Schlarman’s rotation. Asafo-Adjei has played in nearly every game since his freshman season. In 2017, there isn’t any reason to think that would change. Stenberg saw some time in relief of Nick Haynes at Left guard. He enters the fall as the starter at the left guard spot counted on to contribute heavily in the offensive line depth. Haynes will move to the right side after Ramsey Meyers called it quits after Kentucky’s loss to Georgia Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

The 2016 Class

The 2016 haul was one of the most talked about offensive line classes to date. Considering the fact that the two highest rated recruits were offensive lineman was significant. Also, those two offensive lineman were in-state products.

Landon Young is the highest rated recruit in the stoops era according to 247Sports. As a five star recruit, he was rated at a 98 and the third ranked offensive tackle of his class. Young was awarded a fifth star by multiple recruiting services. Landon saw a ton of time at left tackle in his true freshman season. With a few starts, including a start in Tuscaloosa against the Alabama Crimson Tide, Young played very well. He will see a lot of action this season playing alongside Cole Mosier at the left tackle position.

Drake Jackson is also going to be entering his redshirt freshman season in 2017. He is currently listed behind Bunchy Stallings at the Center spot, but could also spend time backing up the right guard spot currently being held by Nick Haynes. He finished his prep career as the second best center prospect in the country.

The New Wave

The new wave of offensive lineman recruits consists of some big bodies. The 6-foot-6 Austin Dotson from Belfry High School in Eastern Kentucky will enter his freshman season in the fall. One would assume a redshirt year is inevitable. I look for Dotson to step in later on in his career and be a staple in another tough offensive line. Also, Nassir Watkins, a 6-foot-6 tackle from Good Counsel in Maryland will also big for a redshirt season in 2017.

In addition to the size of the 2017 class, Mark Stoops and his staff are hard after some big time lineman in the 2018 class. Currently, the Wildcats have pledges from Marquan McCall, the top rated player in the state of Michigan. He is a four star prospect who will step in immediately and compete for a starting spot. McCall is currently the fourth best guard prospect in the country.

To continue, Ohio prospect Darrian Kinnard is the real deal. At 6-foot-7 he’s a four star general who likes to bully people around from the tackle position. The nation’s eighth ranked center is quietly making a move to the Wildcats as well. Cincinnati, Ohio’s Quintin Wilson is a three star prospect who will add to great depth at the center position in the future behind Bunchy Stallings and Drake Jackson. One would assume a redshirt is headed his way once he gets on campus as well.

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Recruiting the Monsters

In the SEC, an offensive line must be big and physical. The Kentucky Football program has definitely achieve those accolades. In 2017, Kentucky will boast one of the best offensive lines in the SEC once again. Blocking and leading the way for Benny Snell will be their key job. But, pass protection for Stephen Johnson will be key for the Wildcat getting over the seven win hump in 2017.