Can the 2008 captains be great leaders?

Can Braxton Kelley be a great leader?

The leadership for the 2007 edition of the Kentucky Wildcats is currently attempting to carve out a niche for themselves in the big business world of the NFL's big contracts and meat markets. The 2007 Wildcats had tremendous leadership in Andre Woodson, Keenan Burton, Wesley Woodyard, and Jacob Tamme. Who will provide leadership for the 2008 edition of the Wildcats?

Recently Kentucky coach Rich Brooks announced the naming of offensive and defensive captains Tony Dixon and Braxton Kelley respectively. They were voted the positions by their teammates. This obviously is a tall order for those players to assume. But let's not forget, the leadership roll doesn't fall squarely on those two guys, alone.

For instance, recently Micah Johnson said he intends to assume a leadership role on the team. Johnson said he came in with the hype deservedly or undeserved. It was virtually impossible to live up to the expectations of the fans.

On the offensive side of the ball, Garry Williams is cast in the role of leader because he is doing a lot of teaching amongst fellow young offensive linemen. He is even telling linebacker Johnny Williams, who is splitting much of his time at defensive end as a speed rusher. "Garry is a real good guy to go up against," Johnny Williams said. "He's talking to me and letting me know some things that I could do different and he's really helping me out."

As for as leading by example, Dixon has for the most part shown that he can be the lead running back because he can block, he can run especially between the tackles, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.

"I think I've been taking that role ever since fall camp began," Dixon said. "It's a big responsibility, you getting down; you can't let the other players see it. You've got to keep them rolling and keep it positive for the team."

Does it mean a lot for you to be named team captain, he was asked?

"It does, I've been here for a long time and I feel like it's my time to carry the team."

Keeping the team rolling and keeping them positive demonstrated itself in 2007 with come back wins over Louisville, Arkansas, and LSU. The staple of the Wildcats over the last two seasons is the never say die attitude. A lot of that has to be chalked up to the leadership qualities of many of the players.

Dixon was asked if he could be a vocal guy?

"Again I think I have been during this camp. I've held a team meeting and talked to the guys about this season and keeping everybody going because their body is feeling down and out."

What about the offensive line that's been heavily scrutinized for it's less than stellar performance? They have performed before and will they perform again in the next couple of weeks?

"Oh yeah definitely," Dixon said, "We've got an experienced line and they'll get it together. We need to have couple offensive meetings to talk about it in general but I think they are going to come around."

Braxton Kelley said it means a lot to be named Captain. He is assuming the role that Wesley Woodyard had, and this means stepping into some big shoes. Woodyard was seen many times exhorting his teammates on the sideline during a game and was seen chastising players on the field during a game for a mistake. Can Kelly be a vocal leader?

"Me and Wes are, like buddies, best friends, we talk just about everyday. We play the same position. Me being able to follow in his footsteps means a lot, being the kind of player he was and the things he's trying to accomplish in the NFL. He's still a leader to me right now in my life and figure if I continue to follow in his footsteps that I can be doing great things in the future."

Kelly said he's lot different in personality than Woodyard in that he will not be a holler guy; but will point out their missed assignments so that they can be the best defense they can possibly be. But he relishes the idea of leading this team on the field with performance.

AllWildcats.com Recommended Stories