Kentucky football: George Asafo-Adjei’s versatility key for offensive line
LEXINGTON, Ky. — George Asafo-Adjei has been a consistent contributor on Kentucky’s offensive line over the past two seasons, but his position has been anything but consistent.
Asafo-Adjei’s impact at Kentucky was immediate. The former 3-star prospect from West Chester, Ohio, was physically ahead of his 2015 class signees. Instead of redshirting as most offensive linemen do, Asafo-Adjei was listed as Kentucky’s second-team left tackle and he made three starts at right tackle.
A year later, Asafo-Adjei was listed as Kentucky’s second-team right guard heading into the 2016 season. Fast forward one more year, and Asafo-Adjei is again Kentucky’s offensive lineman without a permanent home. The preseason depth chart pointed to a camp competition between him and Kyle Meadows for the starting right tackle spot, but Adjei might be on the move given Nick Haynes’ situation.
Haynes, Kentucky’s starter at right guard, has dropped to 260 pounds as a result of Type 1 diabetes. He’s working his way back to a playable weight, but his reps are being monitored. It was Asafo-Adjei who was working several reps in Haynes’ place at right guard during Kentucky’s open practice Saturday.
Not even Asafo-Adjei knows where he’ll end up this season.
“Wherever they need me, honestly,” he said. “We don’t know what the depth chart is so I might be at guard, I might be at tackle. I don’t know.”
But it’s not a concern for the 6-foot-5, 315-pound offensive lineman.
“I feel comfortable at both,” Asafo-Adjei said. “I started out as tackle and they moved me to guard. I’ve been taking a lot of guard reps, but when I go back outside to tackle, it’s just natural. I know what to do. I know all the calls. I like what they’re doing. It’s making me more versatile.”
Versatility has been a hallmark of coach John Schlarman’s offensive lines. Bunchy Stallings has moved from guard to center. Haynes could potentially see reps at center, as well. But Asafo-Adjei can play just about anywhere along the line.
Asafo-Adjei has played in 23 of Kentucky’s 25 games in his first two seasons. He didn’t earn a starting gig last season, but he said he has a different mindset heading into his junior season.
“Football IQ has skyrocketed,” Asafo-Adjei said. “I can read defenses. I can read when they’re blitzing inside, outside, wherever it is. I feel way more comfortable.”
Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran has noticed.
“He’s had his best camp so far since he’s been here,” Gran said. “Less mental errors. … He’s really been locked in and doing a great job.”
Schlarman said Asafo-Adjei is big and physical enough to move bodies at guard while being athletic enough to play tackle. A flip through Kentucky’s media guide will often show a player’s specific position on the offensive line: guard, tackle or center.
Turn to Asafo-Adjei’s profile and the description is understandably vague: offensive lineman.
No matter the position, a breakout campaign could be in store for the versatile Asafo-Adjei.
“I prayed on it because I feel like this is the most comfortable I’ve ever been,” he said. “I expect better things. Bigger things.”