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Eric Wolford returning to Kentucky Football; Zach Yenser out

Big news for the Big Blue Wall.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOV 12 Alabama at Ole Miss Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats aren’t done just yet when it comes to finalizing the 2024 coaching staff.

According to Football Scoop’s John Brice, Kentucky is hiring Eric Wolford as the team’s new offensive line coach. Yes, the same Eric Wolford who served in that role for the 2021 season before bolting for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

“Sources said the deal was close to being finalized late Thursday afternoon,” wrote Brice.

KSR’s Matt Jones says current o-line coach Zach Yenser is being let go.

The report does not state what’s to become of current offensive line coach Zach Yenser, who was firmly on the hot seat going into the offseason before getting a contract extension, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The 2021 season was Wolford’s first and only year with the Wildcats program after coming over from South Carolina during the offseason. Wolford replaced the late John Schlarman, who passed away during the 2020 season after serving as Kentucky’s offensive line coach since 2012.

Wolford inherited a veteran group led by center Luke Fortner, who went on to be a third-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2022, and right tackle Darian Kinnard, a 2022 fifth-round selection of the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Big Blue Wall went on to have an outstanding season for the 10-win Wildcats, finishing as a finalist for the Joe Moore Award, awarded to the best offensive line in the country.

Following the season, Wolford was hired as Alabama’s offensive line coach. While his departure was controversial, you can’t fault someone for wanting to coach under the legendary Nick Saban, who retired this offseason, paving the way for Kentucky to bring back Wolford.

In 2022, Kentucky allowed 46 sacks, which was tied for the third-worst in all of college football.

In 2023, Kentucky seemed to improve after allowing just 22 sacks, tied for the 44th-best in the sport. However, Kentucky ran significantly less plays in 2023, leading to fewer opportunities for sacks. In 2022, Kentucky ran 802 offensive plays compared to 714 this past season.

It also has to be noted that Wolford has had much more success on the recruiting trail. He was actually one of Deone Walker’s lead recruiters. Walker has since become one of the best defenders the program has seen in recent memory. Wolford was also one of the lead recruiters for Barion Brown.

Yenser’s list of all-time commits is pretty bare compared to that of Wolford, even if you take away his Alabama recruits. It’s no secret that Yenser wasn’t doing much on the recruiting trail, while Wolford has been regarded as a strong recruiter.

All of this makes for an easy decision to give Wolford the nod over Yenser, even if it comes in surprising fashion.

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