Before an announced crowd of over 37,000, the annual spring game was a success for Mark Stoops and the Wildcats. The Blue beat the White 31-14, as two back-ups were the stars of the game.
Here are Four Takeaways From Kentucky’s Spring Football Game:
The Wildcats have depth at quarterback
If you look throughout the history of Kentucky football, the Cats have only had one player under center who is of SEC caliber. However, that is far from the case in 2017. Backup quarterback Gunnar Hoak was the star of the spring game throwing for 174 yards and three total touchdowns.
While incumbent Stephen Johnson struggled in the spring game from being “too greedy”, the redshirt freshman served notice that he is ready if needed. Johnson completed only eight of 18 passes for 106 yards and an interception. In comparison, Hoak looked very calm in the pocket. In fact, offensive coordinator Eddie Gran is confident the Cats can and will win with Hoak under center.
Along with Hoak, former starter Drew Barker had a very good spring after missing most of 2016 with a back injury. Johnson is still the leader in the clubhouse, but the coaching staff feels good knowing they have three quality quarterbacks.
They found their compliment to Benny Snell
After Stanley “Boom” Williams declared for the NFL Draft, Kentucky spent the spring finding a player to compliment Snell. That is where Sihiem King comes in. Running for 107 yards and a two touchdowns, King established himself as that player.
— UK Sports Network (@UKSportsNetwork) April 15, 2017
Right there with King is AJ Rose, who showed flashes of brilliance during the spring game before leaving with an injury. Heading into the rigors of the SEC, Kentucky will need all three to have a successful season.
The freshmen class is as good as advertised
Kentucky’s incoming class will go down as the best in Mark Stoops’ time so far in Lexington. True freshman Clevan Thomas made an immediate impact hauling in three passes for 28 yards and a touchdown.
Clevan Thomas said the early enrollees, "are nothing to mess with." https://t.co/GOWYFDKXo3
— Curtis Burch (@curtisburch) April 15, 2017
Leading tackler from 2016 Jordan Jones was suspended for the Blue-White game for missing a meeting. However, true freshman Jamin Davis stepped right in and had quite the game. He was the leading tackler with eight, including one for a loss. Kentucky is deep at the linebacker position, but it is going to be difficult to keep Davis off the field.
Quarterback Danny Clark and cornerback Cedrick Dort also played well during their time on the field.
Paying dividends in recruiting
The Cats had a huge turnout this past weekend for the spring game. Less than 48 hours after the game, Kentucky received a commitment from wide receiver Cadarius Gaskin out of Florida. The three-star receiver from out of Delray Beach picked the Cats over Illinois, West Virginia and Syracuse.
Gaskin ranks as the 136th best receiver in the 2018 class, and his commitment moves Kentucky to 20th in the team rankings. Look for more pledges to come in the next few weeks.
After their first bowl game in five years, expectations are high heading into 2017. If the spring game is any indication, Stoops and company are ready to live up to them.