Jul 16, 2011 7:04 PM by Brent Carney
The loss of Derrick Locke to graduation makes running back one of the most unsettled position on the field for Kentucky heading in to the fall.
The starter's job will be Raymond Sanders' to lose. The sophomore rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns last year and caught 16 passes for 114 yards and another score. The bulk of his work came when he filled in for an injured Locke against Georgia and Mississippi State.
While Sanders has plenty of promise, at 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, he's small. The bruising SEC schedule that awaits the Cats can wear down even the biggest backs. That makes finding depth behind Sanders a top priority.
Sophomore Jonathan George played a season ago but never carried the ball more than three times in a game. Junior Coshik Williams began his career as a walk-on but rushed for 95 yards and three touchdowns last season against Central Michigan, though the bulk of his work came late in a lopsided UK victory. Freshman Brandon Gainer will also be an option after redshirting last season.
According to Joker Phillips, the buzz around the program this summer centers on the skill level of the incoming freshmen class. That includes a pair of three-star running backs from Georgia. Marcus Caffey and Josh Clemons are unknowns but will step on the field with high expectations. Sanders use last season proved that Phillips is not afraid to trust a freshman running back and both of these players have the potential to quickly climb the depth chart.
Whoever earns the carries will have a decided advantage in front of them. Phillips believes the Cats' biggest strength is in their offensive line.
"With the offensive line we have coming back all our guys got to do is run to day light and I feel comfortable that we have enough quality backs that are upperclassmen and again those young freshman backs, the buzz is going around with those guys, also." Phillips said.