Kentucky football: Up to eight true freshmen could play against Southern Miss

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky’s 2017 class was one of the best in Mark Stoops’ tenure, and it sounds like several newcomers could help the Wildcats right away.

Stoops said Monday that up to eight true freshmen could play in the opener Saturday against Southern Miss: outside linebacker Josh Paschal, defensive tackle Quinton Bohanna, defensive back Cedrick Dort, offensive tackle Naasir Watkins, running back Bryant Koback and receivers Lynn Bowden, Isaiah Epps and Josh Ali.

Stoops later added that freshman wide receiver Clevan Thomas will definitely play.

“Might be the first one in,” Stoops said of Thomas.

All were names the coaching staff mentioned in preseason camp, outside of Dort. Not much had been said about the former 3-star corner from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Dort was an early enrollee in January.

“He was here in the spring and he’s gotten better,” Stoops said of Dort. “He’s one of those guys that he is consistent. He’s just out there, kind of quietly going about his business every day, but he’s taking the medicine, as I like to say.”

Now entering Year 5 in Lexington, Stoops has a different way of measuring which freshmen to play.

No longer is Kentucky playing freshmen out of necessity.

“The nice thing about playing freshmen is because they jump out at you, not because you need them,” Stoops said. “So that’s the big difference. If a freshman can come in and help because he jumps out at you, that’s what you’re looking for.”

Running back Benny Snell was one of those players last season. Kentucky’s breakout freshman could come on the opposite side of the ball this year. Freshman outside linebacker Josh Paschal, at 6-foot-3 and 270 pounds, is listed as Kentucky’s second team outside linebacker behind Denzil Ware.

“Make us not play you,” Stoops said of the message to the freshmen. “If you jump out and produce then we have to play you. He’s a guy I think that fits that role.”

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The post Kentucky football: Up to eight true freshmen could play against Southern Miss appeared first on SEC Country.

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