LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky linebacker Courtney Love knows what to expect when he sees No. 71 running downhill toward him. Fellow linebacker Denzil Ware says there’s a mean streak behind the man who used to rock a ponytail. Josh Allen, another linebacker, is just happy he can stay out of the way.
The player they’re talking about is Logan Stenberg. The sophomore left guard has become Kentucky’s “punisher” and “enforcer” on the offensive line, as Ware put it.
The 6-foot-6, 318-pound sophomore from Madison, Ala., has the attention of teammates who have to face him every day, but outsiders have noticed as well. Stenberg was named to the SEC Coaches’ All-Freshman team last season.
When SEC Country asked SEC Network analyst Cole Cubelic which Kentucky player he was most looking forward to watch this season, Stenberg was his answer. It was surprising at the time, but Ware, Love and the Wildcats’ linebacker corps don’t have to be convinced.
“He’s got a ton of power,” Cubelic said. “I went back and watched the Alabama game a couple weeks ago and he’s moving some guys around, pushing some guys around. It’s not something that you expect to see against that group.
Stenberg didn’t start last season, but he was a key rotational piece for a Kentucky offensive line that helped running backs Boom Williams and Benny Snell run for 1,000-yard campaigns.
Now a redshirt sophomore, Stenberg is listed on the preseason depth chart as Kentucky’s starter at left guard. He said the whole offensive line has to step up in the absence of former starting left tackle Cole Mosier.
“I like being in the interior,” Stenberg said after practice Friday. “I like down blocking, pancaking. I like being the one that they want to run behind to get a yard or two.”
Stenberg takes pride in being the so-called enforcer, but he hadn’t heard Ware call him that before. As for the ponytail, Stenberg’s hair is growing back to the point where he could sport it again. The hair style isn’t meant to deceive. It’s no more than a cost-cutting measure.
“I’d rather pay for a ponytail holder than haircuts,” he said.
Stenberg has the unique ability to make Ware laugh and fear for his life at the same time.
“It makes me laugh, man, because he’s a big dude with a ponytail, so it’s hard to take him serious,” Ware said. “But you know, when he put his hand down and comes off the ball, it’s a big train coming to hit you. So you just gotta be careful what you say to him, because he might can end your life.”
Love got in a recent scuffle with Stenberg during practice. The senior linebacker laughed it off Friday, and said the Cats need someone “nasty” like Stenberg.
But Love is just happy another team’s going to be on the receiving end of the pony-tailed punisher on Sept. 2.
“You just gotta be careful when you see No. 71,” Love said. “He’s a big dude, and he’s trying to eat.”