With the departure of thousand yard rusher and Kentucky Wildcats legend Benny Snell, AJ Rose appears to be the heir apparent.
But a redshirt freshman running back could give him a run for his money as the best option in the Wildcat backfield. While he didn’t get a ton of carries in 2018, Kavosiey Smoke gave us some highlights that did indeed raise our eyebrows.
- Position: Running Back
- Class: Redshirt freshman
- Measurements: 5-9, 225 pounds
- Hometown: Wetumpka, Alabama
- School: Wetumpka High
- Recruit Ranking: No. 55 ranked Athlete, No. 23 player in the state of Alabama via 247 Sports Composite
Benny Snell left gigantic shoes to fill and it’s going to be difficult, even for a player of AJ Rose’s caliber, to attempt to fill them. More than likely Mark Stoops is going to have to rely on multiple running backs this season and Smoke is an intriguing player to fill that void.
He’s a big back but with more speed than Benny Snell. He only appeared in one game last season but he made his presence known. He rushed for four attempts, 45 yards, and a 37-yard touchdown during the beat down of the Louisville Cardinals.
Kavosiey Smoke picks up his first career touchdown for the Wildcats. (2018) pic.twitter.com/jZw2Uv4LVP— KY Clips (@KY_Clips) November 26, 2018
That was a very Benny Snell-like play by the young Smoke.
While we haven’t seen much else from Smoke in actual game action, he did put on a sow in the Blue-White Spring game this year, leading all rushers with 132 yards on just five(!) carries:
We don’t have much else to go on outside of his high school football reels, but Mark Stoops was very complimentary of Smoke during SEC Media Days, saying this about the running back:
“Benny Snell is a hard guy to replace I think mostly because of his competitive nature and his desire and his drive, fantastic player for us, but we have really good options at running back. It’s now time for guys like A.J. Rose to step up. Kavosiey Smoke is a young guy that we are very high on. Chris Rodriguez, so we have players there that are ready to step up and fill in.”
With Rose and Smoke, Stoops will have two guys with size and speed. Christopher Rodriguez is more of a battering ram type of player that the Cats could use in short yardage situations.
What makes Smoke so intriguing compared to Rose and Rodriguez is that he looks like a back that has that rare combo of power and speed. I expect to see Smoke in multiple packages as versatile as he is.
It’s a long season and the more running backs you have, the better your team will be. The Snell Era was more of an outlier as Kentucky mainly relied on just one guy at running back. Rose would come in a give Snell a breather for a series or two and then that would be it. I expect to see more of a running back by committee with Rose being the starter and the primary ball carrier and Smoke the next man up.
There may be a game or two where Smoke is just feeling it more or his size is more appropriate against whichever defense the Cats may be facing. He will have opportunities to shine this season and by it’s end we may be talking about a new rising star for the Cats.