Kentucky defensive tackle Phil Hoskins was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the seventh round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Much like fellow defensive lineman Quinton Bohanna, Hoskins has been a mainstay along the Cat’s front seven. First, we’ll look at Hoskins’ career at UK and project how the Cats can potentially replace the newest Carolina Panther.
Phil Hoskins is a 6’5, 315-pound defensive tackle that played in 31 career games with 11 starts at Kentucky. He totaled 53 career tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 4 QB sacks, 7 QB hurries, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recoveries in just over two seasons. Hoskins came to UK from Highland Community College. He played on the 2018 Citrus Bowl Championship team as a junior before missing the majority of the 2019 season. Hoskins was granted a sixth year of eligibility and went on to have a productive senior season in 2020. Hoskins accumulated 30 tackles and 4 tackles for loss to go along with 5 QB hurries in his last year in Lexington. The Ohio native was consistent, twitchy, and possessed the preferred length at the position that created havoc for opposing offenses.
So, how will Kentucky replace Phil Hoskins? There are options for Anwar Stewart to develop into a starter. I can foresee the DT position being manned by a rotational committee based on situation more so than relying on a single player. I will say this. I over-emphasize the fact that Brad White must replace six defensive starters for a reason. Five of the six were drafted and Boogie Watson was signed as an undrafted free agent.
Defensively, Kentucky has a great deal of work to do in order to sustain its Top 5 status in the Southeastern Conference.
Back to defensive tackle. There are two players that will challenge for the starting role but the position could see more in the mix by the time that Louisiana Monroe rolls into Kroger Field. I’ve heard on many occasions that Isaiah Gibson flashed during spring practice. The 6’3, 302-pound sophomore totaled 5 tackles and a QB hurry in five games in 2020. Joining him is former 4-star prospect Octavious Oxendine. Oxendine is a 6’1, 318-pound redshirt freshman that has a plethora of potential. He appeared in three games in 2020.
What Does All This Mean?
Much like Brandin Echols, Phil Hoskins was an under-appreciated and key defender for the Wildcats. Replacing Hoskins will be a difficult challenge for coordinator Brad White. However, Anwar Stewart is a proven developer and has a bunch of youthful defensive linemen to work with going into the 2021 season. The one concern I have is that Hoskins and Bohanna are both listed at 6’5. There isn’t a potential starter at DT or NT that’s over 6’3. The Cats won’t have the length that it’s had in the past.
Isaiah Gibson and Octavious Oxendine are the next two up. However, defensive tackle will be a rotational position for the most part.