Sophomore defensive lineman Quinton Bohanna burst onto the scene last season, earning playing time throughout the season at the nose tackle spot, spelling Naquez Pringle and Matt Elam.
But around midway through the season, Bohanna took over as the starter and is now looking to build off of that solid freshman campaign entering into his sophomore season, where he is expected to once again be the starting nose tackle and play a major role on a Wildcats defense that, on paper, should be the best defensive group the Wildcats have put on the field during the Mark Stoops era.
Position: Defensive lineman
Measurements: 6’4”, 320 lbs.
Hometown: Cordova, Tennessee
School: Cordova High School
Recruit Rankings: No. 69 defensive tackle in the Class of 2015
Bohanna’s numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet. He totaled just 14 tackles last year, and had one pass break up. Solid numbers, but nothing eye-popping. At that position though, numbers don’t tell the full story.
The key is being strong in the middle, and Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops loved Bohanna’s aggressiveness at the point of attack last year. He often drew extra attention in the middle of the line, which helped free up things more for the other linemen and for pass rushes from the outside linebackers.
You could tell from the get-go that Stoops loved what he was seeing from the freshman.
“I’m very grateful that he’s here,” Stoops said following the Tennessee game, in which Bohanna secured the starting job. “I love his attitude. Our players like him. He’s got a great demeanor. He’s very focused. He’s on a mission and I just like the way he handles his business. If he continues to progress he has a chance to be a really good player.”
With a full offseason to continue to work on his technique and become more familiar with opposing offenses, Bohanna could be in line for an even stronger sophomore campaign. If Kentucky wants to make a splash in the SEC, the defensive line will be critical and Bohanna could be arguably the biggest piece to the puzzle.
This year, Kentucky has maybe its best depth at defensive line that it has had in quite some time. The linemen on the roster have a lot of versatility to play multiple positions and there are several guys who can contribute.
But the best SEC defenses have a man in the middle that can wreak havoc on opposing offensive lines and create dozens of matchup problems. Kentucky needs Bohanna to be that guy, and it certainly seems like he is up to that challenge, even if it means doing the work that often goes unnoticed.
“I am real excited. I can’t wait for this season,” Bohanna said recently to Larry Vaught. “It feels so good knowing the season is coming up and the work we have put it as a whole, but specifically the defensive line, will show. We grew up. We have a tighter bond. Work hard, work together. We are really looking forward to the season... I could really care less about the stats or media. As long as they (coaches, teammates) know what I am doing and we are winning is all that matters.”
With the regular season drawing closer, Bohanna has had a good training camp and continues to look primed for a breakout season in Lexington. He’ll have to for Kentucky to survive another daunting schedule, which includes four teams that finishing in the top 36 nationally in rushing offense a season ago, while Kentucky finished 79th against the run.
If Bohanna can take a big step forward, it will go a long way toward making Kentucky’s front seven one that can survive SEC play.