Sanders will be key to Kentucky offense

Losing do-everything wide receiver Randall Cobb was a major blow to Kentucky’s offense, but running back Derrick Locke’s departure stung a bit as well.

If not for a shoulder injury, Locke would most likely have surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in 2010 and he was a perfect complement to Cobb and quarterback Mike Hartline.

The good news for the Wildcats is that they should be able to plug someone right into Locke’s position.

Sophomore Raymond Sanders entered the spring as Kentucky’s starting running back, and with the spring game looming, he figures to leave that way.

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said Sanders gained 10 pounds before the spring and actually got faster. He’s the type of running back who can carry the ball on any down and can catch the ball out of the backfield.

Phillips said Sanders will be relied upon to not only run inside and out, but he’ll have to pick up blitzes and act like another receiver -- all things Sanders should be fine with.

“You have to be that type of back when you play in our offense,” Phillips said.

Sanders really started impressing coaches last summer when he came in and quickly picked up the offensive scheme and enhanced his footwork after working with Locke.

With the fundamentals down, Sanders saw time as a reserve, carrying the ball 68 times for 254 and three touchdowns.

Even better news for the Wildcats? Phillips said Sanders isn’t just a quality back, but he already has captain-like qualities.

“Raymond is a natural leader, so we expect him to be one of the leaders of our offense,”