Kentucky football: 3 biggest offseason questions facing Mark Stoops’ Wildcats in 2021

Mark Stoops, Kentucky Wildcats. (Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)
Mark Stoops, Kentucky Wildcats. (Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Darian Kinnard, Luke Fortner, Kentucky Wildcats
Darian Kinnard, Luke Fortner, Kentucky Wildcats. (Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) /

2. Who steps up to fill the massive holes along the offensive line?

There is no way around it. Losing center Drake Jackson and offensive tackle Landon Young to the 2021 NFL Draft will be tough for Kentucky to overcome. These were homegrown products and ones who gave the Wildcats one of the best offensive lines in the SEC the last few seasons. Replacing them will not be easy, but it is an absolute necessity for the Kentucky football program.

What Kentucky does have going for it is three returning starters from this offensive line: Guard Luke Fortner, guard Kenneth Horsey and tackle Darian Kinnard. Odds are Kinnard may replace Young at left tackle. We should also expect Quintin Wilson to adequately replace Jackson at center. This leaves one book-end tackle job up for grabs with several players fighting for that last spot.

A pair of sophomores in Deondre Buford and Jeremy Flax could vie for that offensive tackle starting job. Having Kinnard switch sides could create an issue, but it may be easier to put the less experienced offensive lineman at right tackle as opposed to left. Regardless, Kentucky should be in good shape at four of its five offensive line positions, depending on who fills the other tackle spot.

Because he too is a homegrown product and one that enrolled early, four-star recruit Jager Burton could push for early playing time in the trenches. While he may only be a rotational offensive lineman in his true freshman season, his talent may push him towards the top of the depth chart once we have completed spring practice and fall camp. Kentucky must stay strong in the trenches.