SEC: Justin Jeffries
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
With all the talk this spring about Mike Hartline getting the nod at quarterback and Randall Cobb spending most of his time at receiver, lost in the shuffle was the moving and shaking going on with Kentucky's offensive line.
The best news for the Wildcats is that they actually have some genuine competition. They've been able to redshirt some offensive linemen the last couple of years and haven't had to throw them to the wolves as true freshmen.
Joker Phillips, Kentucky's offensive head coach, said heading into the spring that the Wildcats were serious about getting their best five linemen on the field.
Judging by all the shuffling that went on and some of the position changes, it's still anybody's guess as to what the Wildcats' starting offensive line will look like when they open the season against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 5 in Cincinnati.
Senior Zipp Duncan is the likely starter at left tackle, but that's after starting 26 consecutive games at guard. Senior Justin Jeffries missed the spring with a shoulder injury after starting last season at right tackle, but he'll face challenges from junior Brad Durham and sophomore Billy Joe Murphy in the fall. Redshirt freshman Dave Ulinski also moved to tackle after starting the spring at guard.
Senior Jorge Gonzalez returns as the starting center, but sophomores Jake Lanefski and Stuart Hines along with senior Christian Johnson will battle it out for the two starting guard spots.
Lanefski started the last four games a year ago at right guard. Hines played in all 12 games in 2008 as a backup at guard and has added weight. Johnson redshirted last season after struggling with back and academic issues, but he started 15 games during the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
"We have great competition at all the positions up front, and it's never been that way since we've been here," Phillips said.
The biggest challenge for Kentucky's offensive line next season will be improving its run blocking. The Wildcats were solid in pass protection a year ago and allowed just 13 sacks, which led the SEC.