ROUNDTABLE: What should we take from spring football?

CatsIllustrated.com, Staff
Cats Illustrated

How much did we learn about Kentucky's football team this spring?

The CatsIllustrated.com discusses that at the roundtable.

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What should our big takeaways from spring football be, and how valuable was the spring in terms of telling us anything about UK's next team?

Derek Terry, Beat Writer: Spring football certainly has value to players both young and old, but in my opinion the biggest value was no one was seriously injured outside of Kendall Randolph. If there's a silver lining with Randolph's injury, it allowed other players like Jordan Griffin and Mike Edwards to take reps at the nickel position. Perhaps those two would've seen reps there anyway, but Randolph's injury made it a necessity.

Time will tell, but it seemed like Kentucky found some talented young guys on defense. Kordell Looney and Jamar Watson were both talked about quite a bit by the coaching staff during the spring. Both of them looked good in the spring game, especially Watson who was in the backfield seemingly all night. Watson will probably hit road bumps during the season like most young players, but the defense can use another pass rusher along with Denzil Ware and Josh Allen.

Offensively, Clevan Thomas impressed me this spring even though I only saw him in one open practice and then the spring game. He's not the biggest or fastest guy in the world, but he runs good routes, and from what the coaches say, is eager to learn more about the position. He strikes me as the kind of kid who will go on to play a lot of football at Kentucky the next four years.

As far as quarterback, the best news is Gunnar Hoak looks like a capable quarterback. I'd be surprised if Stephen Johnson isn't the starting quarterback when the Wildcats take the field against Southern Mississippi, but Hoak will see action at some point this season. His spring performance was encouraging, especially if Drew Barker never returns to what he was before his back injury.

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: I never go bonkers over spring football. A decent chunk of the team isn't involved in the game, we are closer to UK's last 2016 game vs. its next 2017 game and so much can change over the next 4.5 months.

But, with all that being said I was very impressed with Kentucky's depth. Depth has usually been an issue for Mark Stoops at UK. There's been times where second or third teamers looked better than the starters, but sometimes that was when the second or third string players picked UK over MAC schools. Now, you see some young guys on the second team that picked Kentucky over big time powers. That gives you hope in their development and that they will be able to contribute sooner rather than later, and it's not because the first string player is bad but instead the talent across the board is improving.

Kentucky's starting to have the depth of an SEC team and that should make for an exciting 2017 season.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: I think we learned some things, but what we learned has a limited value. There's still a lot that's TBD and a lot that's going to change. My biggest remaining questions are about the running back depth (how Koback will affect that, whether Rose or King becomes the primary backup to Snell), whether incoming grad transfer punter Matthew Panton can unseat Grant McKinniss, how the receiver depth chart is going to shake out, and which young players will step up on the front seven.

But there are some serious takeaways from the spring. Kentucky avoided major injuries, and that's the most important thing. Clevan Thomas looks like he's ready to play in his first year. The offensive line appears to be as deep as most people hoped it would. Kordell Looney is probably ready to become a serious contributor. And Boogie Watson and Jamin Davis mean the linebacking corps has a very bright future.

Finally, Stephen Johnson is probably more like the Stephen Johnson we saw last year than a totally different player, but I'm not reading much into his struggles in the spring game because he's a guy who does better when the pressure of a real game is upon him.

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