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By ASHLEY SCOBY
For the rest of the football offseason, I’m going to be doing some previews here on Vaughtsviews.com for the UK football season – incoming players, position battles, etc. Want to learn more about a particular signee or want a preview of the long snappers next year? Shoot me an email with any ideas/suggestions at email@example.com or tweet me @AshleyScoby. Until then…
A lot has been said about Charlie Strong snatching Kentucky-based recruits out from under Joker’s nose, but the opposite could be said too. Defensive tackle Thomas Chapman is a pretty good example.
The Louisville native was a consensus top-5 recruit in the state of Kentucky and a top-40 defensive tackle nationally. Not so shabby. He was also one of the first guys to commit to UK in the 2012 class, and he stuck with that pledge, which is becoming more and more rare in today’s recruiting world.
Chapman is 6’4, 290 pounds, but has great speed off the line. He doesn’t have a recorded 40-time, but if you watch some of his highlight videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iDDtfhnUWs), you can see he has great speed and some great movement for a guy that big – exactly what you want to see out of a defensive lineman. Speed is important at any position on the line, offense or defense, but more so on defense. These guys have a minimum amount of time to react and to tackle a guy who is usually much smaller and more agile than they are (running backs, etc).
The big complaint around the Cats’ football program ever since Randall Cobb left has been the lack of a consistent “playmaker” on offense. What many usually forget, however, is that it’s also incredibly important that a team have playmakers on defense as well. The guys in the trenches are often overlooked, but Chapman could be that big playmaker the team needs – a Jeremy Jarmon or Ventrell Jenkins-type player.
Chapman’s comments about Kentucky and the coaching staff really make you want to root for this kid too. He tore his ACL during his junior year, and many schools backed off his recruitment, as they usually do after a nasty injury like a ligament tear. But Joker and the rest of his staff remained with Chapman, and that really stood out to him in his recruitment.
“Coach Phillips told me he and the staff had faith in me,” Chapman told Garrett Tucker of Nation of Blue. “Most teams didn’t pay attention to me because of my injuries, but they continued to follow me. That’s all I can ask for.”
There are some questions of whether Chapman will play at defensive tackle or end, but he has maintained the desire to play wherever the coaches want him (coachibility is certainly a nice trait to have these days). There are some pretty strong players in front of him at either position (guys like Taylor Wyndham, Collins Ukwu, Mister Cobble, Christian Coleman, Donte Rumph, etc). Add a position change in there, and we might see a redshirt go on Chapman. But, he’s not one of those sure-fire cases where he needs to sit the bench for a year before competing. He’s got what it takes, especially after some time in the coming weeks learning from Kentucky’s more experienced lineman and the coaching staff.