Kentucky football offensive line preview: Experienced group returning

SEC Country is taking an early position-by-position look at Kentucky’s roster for 2018. A new position preview will publish every Sunday. Up next: Offensive line. 

Offensive line overview

Newcomers: 4-star tackle Darian Kinnard, 3-star center Quintin Wilson, 3-star tackle Nick Lewis, 3-star guard Kenneth Horsey

Departures: Tackles Kyle Meadows and Cole Mosier, guard Nick Haynes

Offensive line coach John Schlarman shouldn’t have a lot to worry about this offseason. Right tackle Kyle Meadows, who started 35 consecutive games to end his career, is the only departing full-time starter. Cole Mosier missed all of 2017 with an ACL tear in his right knee and Nick Haynes didn’t play in the second half of the season as he struggled to keep weight on.

Last year’s Kentucky line wasn’t the juggernaut it was in 2016, but the group started to figure things out as the season wore on.

Kentucky was eighth in the SEC in rushing, averaging 162 yards per game on the ground. It was a significant regression from the 234 rushing yards per game the Wildcats averaged in 2016. Part of that was not having Boom Williams and Jojo Kemp in the backfield with Benny Snell, part of it was the shuffling Schlarman had to do after Mosier’s injury and Haynes’ unavailability.

Starting five

The offensive line lacked continuity early last season, but things stabilized when Drake Jackson took over at center. Bunchy Stallings was struggling with bad snaps and Haynes was no longer an option, so Jackson took over and started Kentucky’s final seven games.

Jackson, now a sophomore, will anchor Kentucky’s offensive line in 2018, and he’ll be flanked by experienced teammates.

Left tackle Landon Young, left guard Logan Stenberg and right guard Stallings should all return to their starting positions alongside Jackson.

Senior George Asafo-Adjei is a safe bet to take over Meadows’ starting spot at right tackle. Asafo-Adjei can play any guard or tackle position on Kentucky’s O-line, but he was listed at right tackle on the depth chart to end the season.

Redshirt freshman Naasir Watkins and sophomore transfer E.J. Price could be other candidates at right tackle, or to fill in behind Young on the left side.

Coaches raved about Watkins in fall camp and throughout the season, but they ultimately decided to redshirt him.

Price is a former 4-star prospect who was ranked 85th overall in the 2016 class. Price briefly attended USC, but never played a snap. He sat out all of last season due to transfer restrictions and has three years of eligibility left.

Despite his potential coming out of high school in Lawrenceville, Ga., Price is a bit of an unknown entity having not played a competitive snap in two years.

Rotational depth

Everyone is back. Junior Mason Wolfe and sophomore Luke Fortner will add depth at guard and maybe tackle.

Sebastien Dolcine, Austin Dotson and Watkins all redshirted last season and could compete for spots in the two-deep rotation.

Kinnard, a U.S. Army All-American, is the true freshman most likely to play. Wilson, Lewis and Horsey could compete for spots, but they’re likely to redshirt.

Projecting the position group

Left tackle

  1. Landon Young (Junior)
  2. Naasir Watkins (Redshirt freshman)

Left guard

  1. Logan Stenberg (Junior)
  2. Luke Fortner (Sophomore)

Center

  1. Drake Jackson (Sophomore)
  2. Bunchy Stallings (Senior)

Right guard

  1. Bunchy Stallings (Senior)
  2. Mason Wolfe (Junior)

Right tackle

  1. George Asafo-Adjei (Senior)
  2. E.J. Price (Sophomore)

More in our Kentucky position preview series: 

The post Kentucky football offensive line preview: Experienced group returning appeared first on SEC Country.

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