BBL: Linebacker continues to be a concern

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Big Blue Links for Tuesday:

Landon Young makes Rivals 100 list, reports Ben Roberts of Next Cats. The Lafayette offensive tackle has committed to Kentucky for 2016. If his ranking holds, Young would be Kentucky’s first Rivals 100 signee since Micah Johnson in 2003.

Kentucky is fast running out of linebackers, reports Jennifer Smith of Herald-Leader. “Jason Hatcher’s listed backup on the depth chart, redshirt freshman Kobie Walker, is expected to miss the first couple of games while recovering from ankle surgery in the offseason.”

Patrick Towles is a confident guy, writes Mark Story of the Herald-Leader. “If 21st century Kentucky quarterbacking history holds, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound redshirt junior from Fort Thomas Highlands should be sitting on a big year. At UK, QBs with talent — and the strong-armed Towles qualifies there — have tended to hit their stride in their redshirt junior seasons.”

NCAA denies Hart and Love waivers, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. Tight end Greg Hart and linebacker Courtney Love transferred to UK from Nebraska. UK is appealing the Love ruling. Meanwhile, linebacker Dorian Hendrix and defensive back Jaleel Hytchye are transferring.

Kentucky’s offensive line returns experience, reports Jon Hale of the Cats Pause. “Outside of George Asafo-Adjei, Kentucky boasts impressive experience along the line. Left tackle Jordan Swindle, left guard Zach West and center Jon Toth have combined for 77 starts in their careers and right guard Ramsey Meyers returns after starting all 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2014.”

Five bold predictions for UK in 2015 from Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal. “1. UK will have a top-25 pass defense. The Cats jumped from 64th to 44th nationally last season in passing yards allowed per game. With a deep and talented group of safeties and two senior corners (with 47 career starts between them) trying to fend off potentially elite freshmen (Chris Westry and Derrick Baity), the secondary is due for a major jump.”

Kentucky’s linebacker depth is a mixed bag, reports Brett Dawson of Cats Illustrated.
“There’s certainly a little bit of concern (at linebacker),” Stoops said. “If we can get Flannigan and Josh back completely healthy, that’ll obviously help with the experience inside. And Jabari (Johnson) outside played a lot of football last year. So hopefully we’ll keep it to one position in the starting four with not too much experience, game experience.”

Fran Fraschilla believes Jamal Murray will flourish, reports Zagsblog. “I think he’ll slide right into the backcourt with Isaiah Briscoe and Tyler Ulis,” Fraschilla said. “I think you’ll see a lot of 3-guard offense at times because I think those three guys are three of their best five players. I think Jamal Murray can play both on and off the ball. I think he’ll have absolutely no trouble playing with the other two guards I mentioned.”

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist signs an extension with Charlotte, reports Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. The former Kentucky star signed a four-year, $52 million deal. “Kidd-Gilchrist is considered the Hornets’ defensive stopper. Coach Steve Clifford has called him one of the best individual and team defenders in the league. However, he lacks offensive prowess. He averaged 13.4 points and 9.4 rebounds and took no 3-point shots last season.”

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Callum Irving is Kentucky’s last line of defense, reports Joshua Huff for the Herald-Leader. Irving is rated as the best goalie in America by some. “You kind of lose yourself in the moment,” said UK’s goalkeeper. “You’re out of your own head, just playing and trying to react so that when I see a guy running at me, it’s all subconscious.”

Ottawa University is thrilled with opportunity to play UK, reports All Ky Hoops. “This is a tremendous opportunity for our program to play the highest winning Division I program in the history of men’s basketball,” said head coach Aaron Siebenthall. “Playing against Kentucky in Rupp Arena will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and coaches. We are truly honored and would like to thank Coach (John) Calipari, DeWayne Peevy and especially Mitch Barnhart for the opportunity.”

Not all believed Monday was a better practice, reports Nick Roush of KSR. Stoops told the media he thought it was better work than Friday’s practice and Saturday’s scrimmage. Still, you did not get the feeling he was overly thrilled.

Here is the Stoops video from Monday post-practice:

Photos of UK linebacker Josh Forrest and UK keeper Callum Irving by Pablo Alcala/Herald-Leader

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