Players to Keep an Eye On

The Kernel takes a look at eight players who could enjoy breakout seasons.

Moncell Allen No. 30

Position: Fullback

Taking the reins from: John Conner

2010 Outlook: Allen spent his first three years at tailback, but was moved to fullback in the spring after the Cats lost their top three fullbacks to graduation. Conner was an underrated cog in the Cats’ attack and a team leader before being drafted to the New York Jets, giving Allen plenty to live up to.

Randall Burden No. 24

Position: Cornerback

Taking the reins from: Trevard Lindley

2010 Outlook: Lindley was one of the best corners in the country in 2008 and 2009 before an injury slowed him. But even when he was just a sophomore, teammates claimed the LaGrange, Ga. native had the tools to be better than Lindley, now with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Ricky Lumpkin No. 53

Position: Defensive tackle

Taking the reins from: Corey Peters

2010 Outlook: UK has had strong play from the defensive tackle position in recent years, producing NFL players Peters and Myron Pryor. Lumpkin was pushed around at times in 2009 as he fought to keep from losing weight throughout the season, and will have to be more disruptive in the trenches this year.

Matt Smith No. 69

Position: Center

Taking the reins from: Jorge Gonzalez

2010 Outlook: He’s only had a limited amount of playing time, but Smith has shown the ability to be a starter on the line. The tougher task for this group will be replacing the leadership of departed seniors Zipp Duncan and Jorge Gonzalez, who combined to start six seasons.

Jacob Dufrene No. 57

Position: Linebacker

Taking the reins from: Sam Maxwell, Micah Johnson

2010 Outlook: Seniors aren’t often considered to be taking the reins for the next generation, but Dufrene is the exception. He’ll be the oldest starter at his position group after beating sophomore Ridge Wilson for the starting spot. The defense will look to him for consistency in an area hurting from the loss of two All-SEC players last year.

Ryan Tydlacka No. 9

Position: Punter/kicker

Taking the reins from: Lones Seiber

2010 Outlook: Few expected Tydlacka, last season’s punter, to beat the highly touted freshman Joe Mansour for the placekicking duties. But Tydlacka was recruited to eventually kick as well, and went 3-for-6 on field goals in 2008. He has all the ability he needs, but if he falters, the fans will call for Mansour.

Winston Guy No. 21

Position: Safety

Taking the reins from: Calvin Harrison

2010 Outlook: UK head coach Joker Phillips has said the Cats’ safeties are mostly interchangeable, so his position change is only minor. He’s shown the ability to play against the run and hit receivers across the middle, but he’ll need some interceptions on his resume this year to be a complete playmaker in the secondary.

Jordan Aumiller No. 86

Position: Tight end

Taking the reins from: T.C. Drake

2010 Outlook: Jacob Tamme was UK’s last big-time tight end, and the passing game hasn’t been the same since. Aumiller entered last year as a linebacker before converting to tight end and winning a start in the Louisville game following the injury to walk-on Nick Melillo. Someone has to emerge here to help out quarterback Mike Hartline.