Freshmen battle up Phillips’ depth chart



As position battles continue on both sides of the ball, UK head coach Joker Phillips and the rest of his coaching staff are becoming more confident in the depth of their squad.

Phillips said his new crop of freshmen have impressed him in practice and have begun making their way up the depth chart, adding to a team that lost many of its most explosive playmakers from a year ago.

“As a group, this is a very talented group,” Phillips said. “There’s no doubt about that.”

On offense, Phillips said  most of the freshmen seeing time this summer are the ones playing at the same skill positions those playmakers inhabited in 2010.

“A couple of wide receivers have made their way onto the two-deep, a couple of the skill guys on defense also. It’s just hard for guys up front. Most of the guys who made their way onto the two-deep are skill guys,” Phillips said. We have to count on one offensive lineman, maybe one defensive lineman to give us some help as far as depth. But whether they be the two or the three is yet to be seen.”

Defensively, coaches and veteran players have been impressed with how quickly the freshmen have adjusted to the speed of the SEC and have picked up co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter’s new defensive system.

“When it comes to learning the defense, of course the older guys catch on a little bit faster,” senior linebacker Ronnie Sneed said. “Some of the young guys, it takes a little longer to come along because they haven’t been learning it as long as we have. But they’re catching on and coming along and we’re all excited.”

At tight end, Phillips said Jordan Aumiller has established himself atop the depth chart, as one of the most consistent workers on the team. Behind him, Phillips said competition at the position has fueled a battle for a spot on the second team.

Competition at the running back position has also heated up like the humid August air. Raymond Sanders still looks to be the starter week one, but a number of other backs, including freshmen continue to compete for a chance to rotate in and see the field on Saturdays.

“We have a solid group at running back,” Phillips said. “There is a lot of depth there. Raymond Sanders has done a really good job, but after him one of the freshmen is in the mix along with some of the older guys. CoShik Williams has been as solid as we have had around here and is a guy that practices at a different speed than everybody else. He has a chance to help us here also.”

So how confident is the UK football team about the depth on its roster?

“I’m pretty confident, man. From the ones down to the fours, everybody can play and everybody is thirsty,” Sneed said.

“I think all of our freshmen guys that came in have been doing really well at learning the plays and just learning technique-wise,” said senior defensive back Randall Burden. “And I’m pretty sure any freshmen that they decide to let play they will make a name for themselves.”