The 2012 Kentucky Wildcats suffered through numerous injuries, adding to what what a miserable season in the Bluegrass. Now former coach Joker Phillips had to play 19 freshmen, including 13 true freshmen, during the 2012 campaign.
Phillips, of course, was fired after the 2-10 season he endured during his final year in Lexington. However, the effect of those 19 freshmen could very well be felt during the upcoming 2013 season under new head coach Mark Stoops.
Some of the freshmen that were forced into action last season showed some promise. A pair of true freshmen saw time at the quarterback position, with Jalen Whitlow getting most of the snaps on the season. Patrick Towles, a former Kentucky Mr. Football, also saw time behind center. Those two players will compete with last season’s starter, Maxwell Smith, for the starting quarterback job in 2013.
Dyshawn Mobley, another true freshman, got 41 carries at tailback last season. Mobley was able to rush for 184 yards, but the previous staff had high hopes for him.
True freshmen made an impact for Kentucky last season primarily on defense. Due to so many injuries, true freshmen were forced into action, and there were some glimmers of hope during the terrible season.
Kentucky was only able to intercept five passes all season in 2012, which is hard to believe. However, true freshman J.D. Harmon had two of those, both in the Wildcats’ loss against the Missouri. Tigers.
Also on defense, defensive back Fred Tiller had 27 tackles to lead all freshmen for Kentucky. Khalid Henderson had 26 tackles and a fumble recovery, Cody Quinn had 25 tackles and five pass breakups. Harmon had 24 tackles and four pass breakups, in addition to his two interceptions.
Freshman twins Zack and Daron Blaylock, sons of former NBA player Mookie Blaylock, had 15 and 14 tackles respectively in their initial season in Lexington.
Stoops is hoping that the experience earned by these players last season can help build the depth of the UK defense in 2013.