In less than a week, media members will all get together in Hoover to talk ball for four long days in The Wynfrey Hotel. While there, all 14 SEC head coaches will stop by to go along with 28 football players. A lot of discussions will be had before predictions are made at the end of the week.
The SEC standings and all-conference teams will be tabulated. Kentucky will likely find itself at third or fourth in the SEC East, but don’t be surprised if the program has the third or fourth most All-SEC selections. Mark Stoops has some questions to answer, but the Wildcats have some serious star power in 2021.
The party gets started with the Big Blue Wall and preseason All-American Darian Kinnard. The Cleveland St. Ignatius product is one of the best offensive tackles in college football and potential first-round talent. Meanwhile, LSU transfer Dare Rosenthal is good enough to receive second-team honors while super senior Luke Fortner is one of the best guards in the league. Once again, Kentucky’s offensive line will lead the way.
In the backfield, Chris Rodriguez Jr. is back for his redshirt junior season and the former low three-star recruit out of Metro Atlanta might be the best tailback in the SEC. Rodriguez led the Wildcats in rushing yards (785) and rushing touchdowns (11) last season while averaging 6.6 yards per attempt. Meanwhile, Rodriguez’s efficiency numbers have been off the charts. The 224-pound running back has All-American potential.
At wide receiver, former top-100 recruit Wan’Dale Robinson returns home to play for the in-state school after spending his first two seasons at Nebraska. With 91 career receptions, Robinson is one of the most experienced wideouts in the SEC and there is no way a conversation could be had discussing the league’s best slot receivers without bringing up the high-profile transfer.
On the other side of the football, Josh Paschal sets the tone on the line of scrimmage. Playing the jumbo defensive end spot in Kentucky’s 3-4 front, Paschal has produced 15 tackles for loss over the last two seasons and played through a knee injury last season. The former blue-chip recruit out of the DMV is one of the league’s best defensive linemen this season.
In the secondary, Yusuf Corker is a redshirt senior that was a four-star recruiting win for the program in Metro Atlanta. A team captain, Corker has started 24 consecutive games for Brad White’s defense while finishing second on the team with 77 tackles last season. The six-foot defensive back will be an NFL Draft pick and one of the best safeties in the SEC this season.
There is an abundance of optimism surrounding the program heading into the season. The Wildcats have a very manageable schedule with a monster home game against LSU in October. Meanwhile, rebuilds are taking place at three SEC East schools — South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. Kentucky could conceivably be a betting favorite in eight or nine games this fall. If offensive coordinator Liam Coen can fix the offense, this is a team that has a great chance at a big season.
If that occurs, the star power on the roster will lead the way.