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Kentucky Football: Let's Give Some Thought to our Walk-ons

Walk-ons are an important part of every college football team.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Every team has walk-ons and most people might assume that these players are not very good. The truth is that most want to play football in college and they may have been overlooked by Division I teams due to size or lack of speed.

Mark Stoops and his staff have been using walk-ons to increase the Wildcat talent pool since their arrival, if you haven't already noticed. You might see some results from these unsung players beginning this season. Here's a list of walk-ons by recruiting cycle from our Spring roster:

(if you click on the players' names, you will go directly to their profile in the Spring Media Guide)


TE Thaddeus Kazunas, Louisville Trinity HS - redshirt FR

DB Keron Wakefield, Louisville DuPont Manual HS - redshirt FR

RB William Mahone, Cincinnati Lakota East HS - redshirt FR

OL David Baumer, Cincinnati LaSalle - redshirt FR

LS Matt Howard, Berea (KY) Madison Southern HS - redshirt FR

OL Cole Mosier, Walton-Verona HS - redshirt FR

WR Cameron Fogle, Hebron Conner HS - redshirt FR

DB Patrick Sermersheim, Louisville St. Xavier HS - redshirt FR

LB Robby Irgang, Wilmore West Jessamine HS - redshirt FR

LS Connor Itani, Vienna, VA McLean HS - redshirt FR

WR Miles Thompson, Louisville DuPont Manual HS - redshirt FR


P Bryan Kirshe, Sarasota (FL) Out of Door Academy

QB/WR Ryan Kendall, Waxhaw (NC) Cuthbertson HS

P Jake Ryan, Lexington Tates Creek HS

LB Blake Spencer, Betsy Lane HS

RB Charles Walker, Louisville St. Xavier

Carson Whitehead, Harlan County HS

WR David Bouvier, Lexington Catholic HS

Kentucky and Stoops have retained several of the walk-ons from the previous coaching staff. Here's that list:

Hold-Overs from the previous regime:

RB Jerry McCray, Detroit Romulus HS - redshirt SO

K Max Strong, Louisville Trinity HS - redshirt SO

FB Jeff Witthuhn, Bowling Green Greenwood HS - redshirt SO

WR Austin Sheehan, Ft. Thomas Highlands HS - redshirt SO

DB J.D. Harmon, Paducah Tilghman HS - redshirt SO

Holder Jared Leet, Powell (OH) Olentangy Orange HS - redshirt JR

DB Rodney Cox, Louisville DuPont Manual HS - redshirt JR

LS Kelly Mason, Rockton (IL) Hononegah HS - redshirt JR

OL Max Godby, Louisville Christian Academy - redshirt SR

OL John Gruenschlaeger, Newport (KY) Central Catholic HS - redshirt JR

DL Zane Williams, Lexington Paul Laurence Dunbar HS - redshirt SO

Several of these players have already made an impact on the team, most notably J.D. Harmon. However, Jack Gruenschlaeger has also seen a lot of duty on the field as has Jared Leet. Max Godby has also been a contributor.

The 2013 walk-ons were all redshirted and a few should see some game action this year. Stoops has been impressed with Cole Mosier and I've hear Cameron Fogle might see some game action as well.

Our latest is Punter Bryan Kirshe. He's been ranked the # 1 HS Punter in the country. You can read Paul Jordan's interview with him at Wildcat Blue Nation.

Ryan Kendall may, however, be the most interesting and also the most strategic of the walk-ons since his younger brother, Austin, is a coveted 2016 quarterback. Ryan, for whatever reason, did not receive a Div. I offer. Here's his profile at Scout. Brother Austin is a 247 Sports and Scout 4* entering his junior season and Kentucky is a school of interest. Apparently, he favors Tennessee and Kentucky. Perhaps, Ryan's commitment to the Cats will be the tipping point.

Even if these players don't see playing time on the field, they contribute to the program on the practice field. It seems to me, however, that our coaching staff is looking to have walk-ons that serve as more than cannon fodder. With Erik Korem's high performance strength and conditioning program, we may have some "ugly ducklings" turn into full fledged swans. Korem has already increased the size and strength of several players and if the walk-ons dedicate themselves, we may very well see some of them on the field during the games. For me, it will be exciting to watch these players develop.