For the last few years, one of the strengths of the Kentucky Football team has been the offensive line, known as The Big Blue Wall.
The group has paved the way for guys like Benny Snell and Chris Rodriguez to be among the most prolific running backs in UK Football history.
But this coming year, Mark Stoops and Offensive Line Coach Eric Wolford have a challenge ahead.
Kentucky is losing three starters along the offensive line, including two who have been key pieces for the last few seasons.
Right tackle Darian Kinnard and center Luke Fortner have been cornerstones of the Big Blue Wall during their time at Kentucky.
Kinnard had 38 consecutive starts on the O-Line, while Fortner had 35. You can’t just easily replace that kind of experience.
And then came news this week that Dare Rosenthal, the junior left tackle who transferred from LSU, will be putting his name in the NFL Draft after one season in Lexington. This didn’t come as much of a surprise, but there was still some hope that Rosenthal would return for another season.
So now, Kentucky is tasked with replacing its two tackles and its center.
With the loss of Rosenthal especially, Kentucky could (and probably should) evaluate options in the transfer portal.
One name that jumps out is tackle Mason Brooks from just down the road at Western Kentucky University. Brooks was first-team All Conference USA for the Hilltoppers and was great in pass protection. Brooks looks to have the talent to be a plug-and-play guy at a Power 5 school.
Or Kentucky could work on evaluating their options in-house while leaving the possibility of a late transfer opening up, like Rosenthal did prior to last season.
Kenneth Horsey and Jeremy Flax filled in for Rosenthal in the Citrus Bowl, but the results weren’t the best.
And Quintin Wilson figures to be in the running to take over as starting center, but he has limited experience.
Auburn transfer Tashawn Manning figures to be a piece Kentucky will hope to utilize along the line as well.
But make no mistake, Kentucky’s coaches have a challenge in rebuilding the Big Blue Wall for next year. A lot of talent exists in the offensive lineman room, but not so much in terms of experience.
It’ll be interesting to see if Mark Stoops and Co. utilize the transfer portal to help with this transition.
Tweet of the Day
Dear @UKFootball , please bring back the “POWER K” helmets. I promise you they’re so fresh, and can guarantee you that #BBN would appreciate & love it so much. The POWER K for KENTUCKY is loved, cherished, & admired across The Bluegrass State! @everythingkyfb @vincemarrow pic.twitter.com/DG2PioL9lP— Blake Hoagland (@BlakeHoagland) January 12, 2022
I’m here for it.
The transfer portal figures to play a role.
And rightfully so.
We’ll find out a lot about this team over the next week or so.
Continuing to be an inspiration.
What a time to jump back in.
Jokic, Steph, or Giannis?
You just have to look at the recruiting dominance.
But a great season nonetheless.