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
Quintin Wilson with the block. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Eli Cox and Jager Burton are young but freakish athletes at Right Guard

The biggest concern on the wall was who would occupy the right guard position as there is very little experience, but it quickly became strong competition between a pair of stellar home-grown Bluegrass athletes in Eli Cox and Jager Burton.

Cox gets the nod to start in week one with Burton challenging him daily. Cox, who hails from  Nicholasville (Ky.) and played for West Jessamine has excelled for new offensive line coach Eric Wolford.

He considers himself a bit small at 6-4, 293-pounds but the Kentucky kid who had no power 5 offers jumped at the chance to play for the team he and his family have watched in person every season.

Lacking confidence coming in and bulk he leaned on Jackson and Fortner for the intangibles you can’t see on film and in yourself. He also benefited from the strength and conditioning coaches and hitting the weight room hard.

That has paid off along with a big encouragement from Wolford he told Larry Vaught.

"“One thing he has told me from the get-go is you have to prove you can play in tough and stressful situations and he puts me in those every practice so Saturdays will be easy. He takes pride in making practices tougher than games. He makes things very intense. He is all about getting stuff done.”"

Challenging him for playing time is super true frehsman Burton, who won the Paul Hornung Award last year which is given to the top player in Kentucky. Backup quarterback Beau Allen won it the previous year.

The 6-4, 305-pound stud out of  Fredrick Douglas will undoubtedly be a huge presence on the field this year and years to come. He came in already a great athlete, but after enrolling in January he has put on 35 pounds.

Burton has all the skills, has added the bulk, and is now adjusting to the speed of the college game.  Now it’s a matter of executing it consistently. 

"“It’s hard to adjust to the speed of the game in college, where in high school you’ve got like five seconds to figure out what you’re going to do before the play. Here it’s like two. You’ve got to really think. They can move one second before the snap and you’re still supposed to know what to do, so it’s really getting to where I can automatically know what I have to do without having to be like, ‘Am I sure that’s what I’m supposed to do?’”"

Something tells me you will quickly see a lot of Burton on the field.

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