Kentucky football: Wildcats foundation that makes Cats go is the Big Blue Wall

UK offensive lineman Darian Kinard.
UK offensive lineman Darian Kinard. /
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Kentucky football
Offensive lineman Darian Kinnard (70) and offensive tackle Luke Fortner (79) (Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) /

The offense begins at the center and Luke Fortner snapping the ball

Kentucky lost its monster in the middle after last season when Drake Jackson headed off to the NFL. Jackson played four years and 44 consecutive games for UK at the center position.

While there wasn’t a true backup behind him, Kentucky found his successor and a ton of leadership and experience in sixth-year senior Luke Fortner.

At 6-foot-6 297-pounds Fortner and Jackson were tight and Jackson has instilled lots of wisdom and confidence in his replacement who moved over from starting at right guard last season. He feels he has settled in at the position.

"“It feels really good. Ihave some great guards next to me and some great tackles, so that helps. I’ve watched Drake (Jackson) do it enough that I can take their experience and kind of mold it into my own style.”"

Fortner has been a steady part of the Big Blue Wall for 42 career games, including 23 consecutive starts played at right guard. Dependable and consistent are the two words that best describe Fortner so what more does a team need.

Behind him is Quintin Wilson, a 6-1, 291-pound junior from Cincinnati that has played in 11 total games for the Wildcats. He was groomed to be Jackson’s successor but will still wait with Fortner returning for a sixth season.

Wilson though is very smart and has taken a lot of practice snaps with Jackson these past three years so he is ready to go at any given moment. He came to UK listed as the fifth-ranked center in the nation by Rivals.