The top 10 players returning to the Kentucky Wildcats for the 2020 college football season.
Important to note that this list is based upon last year's data and film from on each specific team as well as judgment based upon the player's position both his skill and the level of talent around him at the said position and influential cohorts. Positional value also plays a large factor in these rankings as does the offensive or defensive scheme.
1. Terry Wilson, QB
2. Boogie Watson, LB
3. Landon Young, T
4. Darian Kinnard, T
5. Cedrick Dort, CB
6. Brandin Echols, CB
7. Quandre Mosely, S
8. Drake Jackson, C
9. DeAndre Square, LB
10. Yusuf Corker, S
Honorable Mention: Luke Fortner, G; Chris Oats, LB; Josh Paschal, DE; Asim Rose, RB; Josh Ali, WR
The Wildcats have a strong case for best offensive line returning to college football this season -- and fortunately for them -- they also have the best returning quarterback from an SEC offense from 2019. Wilson, if healthy, presents more than just a matchup nightmare for defenses. He represents a terrific passer with an incredible set of wheels but also represents an incredible uptick in the quarterback position than what they saw without him. It's no doubt that they would have won more games with him in the lineup last year, than with Sawyer Smith or Lynn Bowden having to fill in.
Wilson is a great college quarterback and has a tremendous situation ahead of him with the services of Young, Kinnard, Jackson and Fortner, each who represent a player near the top of his position. Young and Kinnard are dominant in the passing game while Fortner and Kinnard represent some of the best run-blockers in the game. Jackson is perhaps the best all-around on that line and they're a group that just isn't going to allow a ton of pressure and is going to get after it in the run game.
If their offensive line is good, then man, so is their secondary. With Dort and Echols leading the charge at cornerback, and Jamar 'Boogie' Watson rushing off the edge, this is a supremely talented, front-loaded defensive unit as a whole.
Watson had 10 combined sacks and hits but a bevy of other pressures as he consistently got after the quarterback a year ago. He plays great in run defense and like his predecessors in the Kentucky defense, has plus-coverage skills as well.
Speaking of coverage, Dort is by every definition of the word: A lockdown cornerback. According to multiple advanced analytics sites, Dort was targeted 21 times as the primary coverage defender and allowed all of six receptions! That's just 28.6%. He had four pass breakups and allowed just 60 total yards into his coverage with a long of just 22.
Add in Echols, who also allowed fewer than 50% of the passes thrown his way to be caught and you have one of the better CB tandems in college football. Then there's Square who is an underrated pass-rusher when called upon and can cover just as good as he can stuff the run.
This team has the legs to go far in 2020, especially if those legs carrying them are Wilson's.