UK FOOTBALL | Transfers denied, linebacker depth takes another hit
08/25/2015 06:04 PM
LEXINGTON — Kentucky Football lost two more players for the 2015 season on Monday — this time thanks to the NCAA.
After defensive players Jaleel Hytchye and Dorian Hendrix both announced they are transferring out of the program on Monday, UK learned that two incoming Nebraska transfers Greg Hart (TE) and Courtney Love (MLB) have both been ruled ineligible by the NCAA and can’t play for the Wildcats this season.
The Wildcats were already thin at linebacker entering fall camp, and losing Hendrix and Love this week only complicated matters further.
Both were listed as middle linebackers on the depth chart, and their absences leave Josh Forrest (Sr.) and Nico Firios (Fr. RS) as the only players left at the position. After missing a few days with an illness, Forrest was fortunately able to return to practice participation on Monday.
The strongside linebacker position isn’t looking any better with the top two players already ruled out for the first several games of the season.
Projected starter Jason Hatcher (Jr.) is serving a two-game suspension for a violation of team rules, and backup Kobie Walker (Fr. RS) is expected to miss at least three games while continuing to recover from offseason ankle surgery.
At weakside linebacker, Ryan Flannigan is listed as the first-string starter, and after missing more than a week with an unspecified shoulder injury, he also returned to the field yesterday for non-contact drills.
Flannigan’s backups are Khalid Henderson (Sr.) and Jordan Jones (Fr.), both of whom have survived fall camp unscathed up to this point.
“There’s certainly a little bit of concern,” head coach Mark Stoops told the media after Monday’s practice. “If we can get Flannigan and [Forrest] 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.
“But again, we just got to develop all those guys. We’re gonna need them at some point in time, so we’re gonna continue to work with all the backers and work some different combinations and get the best guys on the field.”
Counting all injuries, transfers, and suspensions, a total of five linebackers from the original fall depth chart are scheduled to miss Kentucky’s season opener against LA-Lafayette on Sept. 5.
KSTV discussed the dwindling linebacker depth issues on Tuesday’s show, explaining whether or not the Wildcats will have enough healthy players to compete in the SEC.