Of all the Spring Games I watched and I actually watched probably every one of them, I am not sure anyone had a better fan turnout than the Kentucky Wildcats.
Somebody must have tricked them into thinking a basketball game was going to take place at half time. Either that, or excitement is really high in Lexington, Kentucky.
The best time in the history of college football to be a Kentucky Wildcat football fan was the 8 years that Bear Bryant was the Head Coach from 1946 to 1953. Bryant had the Wildcats in the top 20 for the last 5 years of his coaching time in Lexington. He left after the 1953 season to become the new head coach at Texas A&M. http://collegefootballcrazy.com/580/
But, then, there was the 1977 Kentucky Wildcats.
Kentucky was 2-8-1 in 1975, but then they went 9-3 in 1976. In 1977, the Kentucky Wildcats football team went 10-1 and finished up #6 in the country.
Here’s the catch, they weren’t allowed to go to a bowl game because they were on probation. There wasn’t a lot of SEC bragging in those days and only 4 teams in the conference had a winning record. Alabama finished with a 7-0 conference record and Kentucky with a 6-0.
Kentucky’s sole loss came to Baylor of the SWC, 21-6.
The heart and soul of that team was Defensive End, Art Still, the future #2 pick in the entire NFL draft and QB Derrick Ramsey. Ramsey played Tight End in the NFL and had 188 career receptions. At 6-5, 230 he was something of an early day Vince Young or Cam Newton. Those guys just weren’t going to be NFL QBs back in the 1970s.
After losing to Baylor in the second game, the Wildcats won 9 straight games and finished up 10-1. Alabama fans say they were screwed over in 1977 and should have been national champs, but who knows if they were even the best team in their conference that year.
By 1978, Kentucky was back at 4-6-1 and by 1982 the Wildcats were 0-10-1, and it was back to normal for them in football.
Could there be another 1977 type year in the near future for the Kentucky Wildcats?
Maybe, but probably not in 2014.
The Wildcats have a strong defensive front four. They have a little bit of speed at the skill positions.
But, they have little else as the 2-10 record in 2013 would indicate.
2013 was the first season at Kentucky for the youngest Stoops brother, Mark. Mark Stoops attempts to accomplish at Kentucky what no other man has been able to do since the days of Bear Bryant and that is win consistently.
Kentucky may be the toughest football job in America and there is a reason that the Bear is #1 on my all time football coaching list.
The Kentucky Wildcat Defensive front four looks impressive, actually. Bud Dupree (6-4,255) and Za’Darius Smith (6-6, 255) look great at the Defensive Ends. Jason Hatcher (6-3, 250) is a future star at Defensive End and a great pass rusher.
Za’Darius Smith should be a star in the NFL after this season. He never played football until his senior year of high school but was a basketball player from Greenville, Alabama.
Mike Douglas (6-4, 290) and Regie Meant (6-4, 280) are a couple of Floridians that look pretty good at Defensive Tackle. Meant is new to football but runs in the 4.6 to 4.7 range, supposedly.
In spite of some quality Defensive Linemen, Kentucky struggled to stop the run in their Spring Game.
The defense will struggle this season overall, but the offense looks better. Or, so it appears.
Patrick Towles is the probable starter at QB. Towles is a big, strong guy at 6-5, 235 with a big arm.
Drew Barker (6-3,215) and Reese Phillips (6-2, 220) are also in the mix.
Towles looked the most consistent on this day. He is the grandson of Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim Bunning and the former Mr Football for the state of Kentucky for what that is worth. He played a little in 2012, but redshirted in 2013.
Barker was a highly recruited QB also out of the state of Kentucky, and showed flashes of brilliance mixed in with flashes of inconsistency. In my opinion, he should redshirt if the Wildcats have the luxury of that.
Reese Phillips is a redshirt freshman that is also competing for the job. You don’t have to be Nostradamus to figure out that one of these guys will be the guy and at least one of the others will transfer out.
The other thing the Wildcats have going for them in 2014 is super explosive speed at the RB and the WR positions.
JoJo Kemp (5-10, 190), Braylon Heard (5-11, 190), Josh Clemons (5-10, 210), Mikel Horton (6-1, 235) and Ryan Timmons (5-10, 185) are all quality looking guys at their positions and dangerous with the ball in their hands.
Keep an eye on #85 Tight End Steve Borden, a senior out of Waxahatchie, Texas. He looks poised to have a big year at Tight End for the Wildcats and it doesn’t hurt in my book that he is the son of Pro Wrestler Sting.
The Kentucky Wildcats recruited well this year. Most of the experts have them ranked in the top 20 with 8 4 star recruits for 2014.
If you like to pull for the underdogs, Kentucky should be your team for 2014. If things happen to get out of hand, look for Sting to come down out of the stands and put somebody in the Stinger Splash or the Sleeper hold.