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ESPN’s updated college football rankings include Kentucky

The transfer portal is still active, and the Cats are filling holes.

Wildcat Mascot Isamu Haynes-Sunayama - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats have been building something special in Lexington over the past half a decade. Since Mark Stoops took over the program, the Wildcats have continued to improve their football program.

The exodus of Will Levis will leave a void in the Cats' offense as he was often the focal point for opposing defenses, but there was a bigger concern for Kentucky than who will replace Levis.

They needed to right the wrong that is their offensive line, and that could be drastically improved this season.

Couple that with the addition of NC State quarterback Devin Leary, who threw for 35 touchdowns and five interceptions as a sophomore, and the Cats have bounced into the top 25 for this upcoming season.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach compiled the rankings.

Post-spring outlook: While much of the attention this spring might have been on the transfers replacing quarterback Will Levis (former NC State starter Devin Leary) and tailback Chris Rodriguez Jr. (former Vanderbilt starter Ray Davis), rebuilding a porous offensive line was a primary focus for coach Mark Stoops and new offensive coordinator Liam Coen. The Wildcats ranked 112th in the FBS in scoring (20.4 points) and 116th in total offense (324.7 yards) in 2022. Kentucky surrendered 46 sacks last season, the most by any Power 5 program. Northern Illinois transfer Marques Cox was working at left tackle and Eli Cox moved back to right guard from center. Jager Burton was working at center. Last week, the Wildcats received a commitment from USC’s Courtland Ford, who could fill a hole at right tackle.

If the Cats can make their offensive line a formidable part of their roster, they should have a chance to compete in the SEC, a conference with arguably the nation’s best pass rushers, especially this past season with several top picks from Georgia and Alabama’s defense.

The SEC totaled six teams in the updated rankings, with the reigning champion Bulldogs coming in at No. 1.