By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer
UK Football: Three Freshmen That Are Better Than Advertised
August is here and that means the college football season is just around the corner. With UK’s Fall football practice going on now seemed like a good time to consider which true freshmen players might make an impact for the team this season. Here are three that could be huge for the Wildcat Football Team and the reasons why.
McCall is a 6’3″ 368 lb lineman out of Oak Park High School in Michigan. He was rated the best player in Michigan in 2017 and listed as a four-star player by 247Sports. He played on both the offensive and defensive line for Oak Park but at UK he will be a defensive lineman. He’s what he had to say about why he loves playing defense. “I really love beating up the center, that’s what I do best,” McCall said. His Oak Park High School Coach Greg Carter had this to say about McCall, “For a guy his size, he’s extremely quick and athletic and has great hands. He’s really, really physical and has a lot of experience, starting as a sophomore for us, and he’s just been a dominant player ever since.”
With the loss of Denzil Ware and Josh Paschal as edge rushers off the defensive line UK will need an additional athletic big-bodied player to help fill the gap at nose tackle and apply pressure up the middle on the opposing quarterback. A guy that weighs 368 lbs and has the nickname “Bully” should perfectly fit the bill.
As an early enrollee Square was able to participate in Spring practice and used that time to show his toughness and athleticism. With several linebackers nursing injuries Square stepped in and filled the spot admirably.
Here’s what Defensive Coordinator Matt House had to say about Square’s performance. He’s progressing well,” said defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Matt House. “The thing that I like about DeAndre, you don’t necessarily know until you get him here, is he loves contact. He’s not scared to mix it up and he’s really serious about his craft, about getting better. I’ve been not surprised, but pleasantly surprised with his actions on the field this early.”
Not only was Deandre impressing the coaches this past Spring with his performance on the practice field but he was also impressing his teammates. Here’s what middle linebacker and Kentucky native Kash Daniel had to say about Square.
“It’s unbelievable. The kid’s got athleticism that I’ve never seen before,” middle linebacker Kash Daniel said. “He’s got speed and a jolt that I’ve never seen before as a linebacker.” Seems like a player that could really provide some great fill-in reps on the field, especially in third down passing situations.
Last but not least is a player that plays a critical offensive and defensive position at the same time. I’m talking about UK’s new freshman kicker and punter, Chance Poore.
Poore, from the state of South Carolina, was rated the No. 1 kicker in the nation in last year’s recruiting class. He is truly a multi -purpose kicker in that he can perform as a kickoff specialist, place kicker and punter. As a senior in high school he made 6 of 12 field goal attempts with the longest being 48 yards. He also kicked off for his team and placed 63% of his kicks into the end zone. As a punter he averaged 44 yards per kick. Here’s what Rick Sang, Program Director at Prokicker said about Poore, “Chance is the No. 1 ranked kicker in the nation for 2018 class.
An exceptional punter too. He can kick and punt for any college in the country at any level – right now. A very talented athlete who dominates his position and has shown great work ethic. He is already capable of launching NFL caliber kickoffs and punts!”. With the graduation of Austin Mcginniss Chance Poore could prove to be beneficial to special teams with his ability to place kickoffs in the end zone along with his field goal kicking and punting abilities.
These three freshmen players could be significant backups to the starters or if an injury occurs to one of the starters at the positions mentioned these three could be the players that step up to help fill the gap. Experience is no substitute for talent and as Mark Stoops continues to recruit at a high level it’s talented players like these that could help Kentucky move into position to contend for the SEC East crown in the future.