By LARRY VAUGHT
Many Kentucky football fans were disappointed that the Wildcats finished 7-5 last season and lost their last three games, including the Music City Bowl game to Northwestern.
Former Kentucky quarterback Freddie Maggard, now an analyst for the Kentucky Radio Network as well as Kentucky Sports Radio, has a different opinion.
“I said Kentucky overachieved by going 7-5, and I am sticking by that,” said Maggard.
He believes running back Boom Williams leaving for the NFL, receiver Jeff Badet transferring to Oklahoma, offensive lineman Ramsey Meyers opting to give up his final year of eligibility, receiver Dorian Baker and offensive lineman Cole Mosier going down with preseason injuries and defensive lineman Alvonte Bell being put off the team took a bigger toll on UK in the 2017 season than most understood.
“All that created a big hole,” Maggard said.
Kentucky doesn’t figure to have nearly as many big holes to fill going into next season. Key players that debated leaving for the NFL all came back to UK. No one has given up a final year of eligibility. The December signing class has players that can help next season.
Maggard thinks two Michigan standouts — linebacker DeAndre Square and defensive lineman Marquan McCall — were the two top signees.
“To go into Michigan and get McCall was incredible,” Maggard said. “He was rated the No. 1 (offensive) guard in the midwest. I like that he is a technician already. He has the frame and skill that he could play guard now but he wants to play defense, and I like that. He can run and he is a plug and play nose tackle. He could play behind Quinton Bohanna and there would not be a significant drop off. We saw how much better Kentucky was when it had a healthy Quinton Bohanna, and McCall is the same kind of kid.
“DeAndre Square is out a Cass Tech. It’s a school a lot like Oak Hill Academy putting out (basketball) players for top colleges every year. He had a LSU offer. He was the top defensive player in the state of Michigan.
“That’s why to me, getting those two kids out of Michigan was the storyline for this signing class.”
The next biggest storyline in Maggard’s opinion that was mainly overlooked by most was signing offensive linemen Darian Kinnard of Cleveland, Kenneth Horsey of Florida and Quinton Wilson of Cincinnati.
“Kinnard was an all-American, Horsey can really play and Wilson is my sleeper pick for the class. He’s a top five center in the country and 4.0 (grade-point average) student. He played tackle in high school. All three of these guys are elite in the classroom,” Maggard said.
Wilson reminds Maggard of a “better version” of Kentucky senior Bunchy Stallings coming out of high school. Stallings was not a high profile signee in 2014 but Maggard predicted then he would be a big-time player — and he has been.
“You could argue two years ago that UK had a better offensive line than Georgia and Alabama,” Maggard said. “This year not so much. But these are the kind of signees you want in your offensive line to win in the SEC.”