Zach Yenser believes in offensive line he’s leaving behind at UK

Published 3:34 pm Friday, February 9, 2024

Zach Yenser was excited about the potential for UK’s offensive line next season and is “extremely disappointed” he won’t get to coach that unit after being fired despite signing a contract extension in December.

“We battled for two years to get to this point. We have four guys back. We have been building depth with two high school recruiting classes,” Yenser said. “Both Marques (Cox) and Eli (Cox) coming back is huge so that we did not have to rely on young guys and could play other guys so they are ready when their turn comes.”

Yenser said transfers Jalen Farmer of Florida and Gerald Mincey of Tennessee added needed daily competition and depth.

“Farmer brings some competition to the middle and Mincey will provide great competition at tackle that is great to have,” Yenser said. “I think we were going to be as close to the 2021 offensive line and felt like we were going to have that kind of front again.

“I just keep telling myself I left it (the offensive line) better than I found it and I know (former UK offensive line coach John) Schlarman would be happy with what I did.”

Yenser said he told 2024 offensive line signees Hayes Johnson, Marc Nave and Aba Selm they were at Kentucky for a reason.

“I told them it was not just me that wanted them here but other people (coaches) in the building did too,” Yenser said.

He felt 2023 signees Koby Keenum, Austin Ramsey and Malachi Wood all made “huge strides” last season.

“They were all kind of beat up when they heard the news (about his firing). Hayes and Abe just got here a few weeks ago but they will all be fine,” Yenser said. “I told them they were in a great spot and that they came here for more than me. They came to be part of the Big Blue Wall and it will all work out.”

Yenser said UK coach Mark Stoops told him he was leaving the offensive line room better than it was when he arrived from the San Francisco 49ers after the 2021 season.

“He kept telling me I was a NFL guy but I kept telling him I wanted to be here,” Yenser said. “I really don’t know what I will do now. My first initial thought is to get back in the NFL and continue on the path I was before I came to Kentucky. I did enjoy being back in college and the relationships I built but it is crazy with the transfer portal and NIL. It’s nuts with NIL and often with recruits it’s more ‘What do I get for coming’ rather than come prove yourself.

“Making sure I do what is best for my boys is a big priority. My oldest understands some of this and the first thing he said was, ‘Are we going back to the NFL?’ I told them I will get to be home and be dad more than I usually can and let’s just take advantage of that and see where it takes us.”

Yenser said before offensive coordinator Liam Coen decided to leave Kentucky that he was confident Kentucky would continue to be successful.

“Kentucky has a great vision for how they are doing it,” Yenser said. “Coach does a phenomenal job with it. The whole building does and they do a good job taking a lot off position coaches so you can do your job.”