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It’s a “jumble” at the center position for the Kentucky football team right now, at least according to offensive lineman and occasional center Max Godby.
Godby is an option at center once he gets completely healthy. Zach West is recovering from shoulder surgery and has been taking snaps at multiple positions, including center. Two redshirt freshmen – Jon Toth and Zach Myers – round out that so-called jumble.
In a time like this, where there is no set starter or backups, flexibility is key for the linemen under coach John Schlarman.
“I played at left guard and then our original o-line coach moved me to center…and then I got moved back to left guard again, swapping out at center a little bit,” Godby said. “It is a little bit more difficult because you have to change your stances and stuff but the good thing is you get a whole lot better grip on the offense… If you learn what other guys are doing, it makes your job a whole lot easier.”
Learning multiple positions might help the eventual starting center perform his duties there that much better. In offensive coordinator Neal Brown’s offense, the center must be able to evaluate what is going on and be a leader on the field.
“Those guys make calls,” Schlarman said of the centers. “They set tempo for us. They’re very vocal. They handle our cadence for us. The center is very important in this offense. Guys are going to have to improve and really step up at that position for us because it is such a big part of what we do up front.”
So far, Myers has been the one that has stood out to the coaching staff, according to Schlarman. The 6’3, 289-pounder says he has a picked up the offense pretty well so far, which has helped him get a better grasp on the position.
“This year it seems like I’m really learning the offense well,” he said. “I have a good concept of what’s going on. I think learning the offense was a little easier for me this year after having a year under my belt.”
Schlarman said that Myers has made the most progress so far of all the players taking snaps at center. His pad level, however, is something the youngster needs to work on.
“I think he’s gotten a lot better from day one to 13,” Schlarman said. “He’s got to play with great pad level. At that position, you’re in the A-gap and you go against some war daddies in there for some other teams, some great defensive tackles. If you play high, it’s not going to be a good thing”
While Myers concentrates on how low he is, another guy on the line has to worry less about pad level, and more about what’s under the actual pads. West has been limited during spring practice because of a shoulder injury he had to have surgery for.
His desire to get on the field during the spring, however, has not been hampered by injury.
“I’m proud of him, just coming off a surgery, getting out here in spring ball, and getting some work,” Schlarman said. “There are a lot of guys that could have just kind of gone through non-contact in the spring and probably no one would have said anything. But Zach’s not that type of guy. He wants to get out here and get work in.”
That kind of quality is what the coaches are looking for out of their “jumble” of potential centers. The ability to dig deep in the trenches and hit people is another one of those must-have qualities.
“I truly just love the game,” he said. “I love offensive line. I love just popping people a little bit. Whatever position I wind up at, I’m going to be fine with it.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @AshleyScoby. Until then…
By ASHLEY SCOBY
Jon Toth is one of five offensive linemen in the class of 2012, representing Joker’s focus this year on bringing in young talent on the line to make up for those graduating in the near future. Toth himself is a big boy with a lot of athleticism – exactly what you want out of someone playing in the trenches of the SEC.
At 6’5 and 290 pounds, the word “athleticism” probably wouldn’t automatically come to mind for the average person, but nearly every scout who has watched Toth play uses the word frequently. According to ESPN’s scouting report, Toth has long arms (perfect for pass protection), but some concerns as far as technical ability goes.
My thought on this? Technical stuff can be taught – that’s what coaches are for. But athleticism? That’s something you’re born with. And by all accounts, Toth was.
Toth was rated the 11th-best player in the state of Indiana and the #33 offensive guard in the country by 24/7 Sports. Scout.com had the Indianapolis player ranked as the #60 offensive tackle and a three-star. He had offers from Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Toledo and Western Michigan – a list that might raise a bit of a red flag to anyone who follows SEC football. Many players get a bad rep if they are not recruited by the Alabamas and LSUs of the world. But Toth had a very strong showing at UK’s camps, and the coaching staff believed in him. There is a reason you and I don’t make recruiting decisions for an SEC football team, after all.
Toth chose UK based on playing time availability and the chance to play in the SEC – it’s what UK coaches continue to sell, and it’s what continues to bring talented players to Kentucky.
“The fact I might get to play a lot (early) is certainly good because UK has a lot of older linemen,” he said. “Kentucky came to see me in the spring and let me know they were going to be short on offensive linemen and were taking more guys than usual in this class.”
Again, it shows how much emphasis Joker was putting on the line in the 2012 class, and that is sure to pay off in the long run. Once these guys develop (size-wise and strength-wise) and learn the ins and outs of playing SEC-level football, there is no doubt that someone like Toth could contribute. It’s often a lot harder to gauge how good an offensive lineman will be – they’re the most likely to switch positions (maybe even multiple times) and the slightest difference in size or strength could make a world of difference in the trenches.
Toth is most likely looking at a position switch from tackle to guard at the college level, and that will need some adjustment time. Expect a redshirt year out of Toth (as most linemen need), but don’t forget about the Indianapolis product anytime soon.