The Kentucky football offensive-line is maybe the strongest unit on the team. Among that group, native Kentuckians like center Drake Jackson and left tackle Landon Young stand out as key components, but another up-and-comer out of the Bluegrass State that is due to see a lot of action is junior left guard Austin Dotson.
Dotson grew up in Belfry, KY, where he watched the Cats and always dreamed about suiting up in the blue and white. Now that his dream is reality, the offensive guard is ready to take advantage.
“It’s finally a dream come true, and I finally get my shot, can’t look back from here,” he said.
The Belfry native is used to playing smash-mouth football even from back in his high school days, and wished he could have played a little bit in the almost exclusive run offense UK had last season. With that said, he is ready for a more balanced approach on that side of the ball this year.
“I really wish I could have gone in, but I don’t feel like I was up-to-par with the people in front of me. It would’ve been awesome to get in there and just rumble on every play,” he said. “Now…I gotta do it all. Just gotta work and keep improving.”
The starting center for the Cats — senior Drake Jackson — has played at that spot since his freshman year. With his experience and solid play at the position, Dotson looks to him as a leader during practice and games.
“Having Drake (Jackson) there — it’s kinda just gives you a reassurance,” he said. “He’s been here for a while, played a lot of snaps for us. I know if I was to get in a game and have a question, or if I was to do something wrong, at least I know that we’re gonna get that corrected right then and there. He’s a real leader on the o-line, and he’s somebody I look to.”
Dotson said someone else he can look to is Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman for advice not just on the field, but in real life, as the coach is a cancer survivor.
“I feel like he’s really a player’s coach, and I feel like he’ll do anything to help you out and make sure you know what you need to be doing on and off the field,” he said. “He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had.”
The Belfry native said the team is ready to get the season started as they have watched other conferences hit the field. He and his teammates will get a chance to relieve that adrenaline in just a little over a week as the Cats open the season at Auburn next Saturday.