"They all worked hard in the offseason and are ready to go," said Ortmayer. "Grinter had some surgery, but he seems well now. Bogue is more solid and consistent. T.C. is better. We have three senior tight ends we think can play well for us."
Ortmayer says playing a year rather than backing up Tamme is the biggest reason they should all be better as seniors.
"Experience against all the defensive fronts they faced last should help them," Ortmayer said. "They will know more about that than they did last year. That was really the first year for any of them to play extensively with Jacob gone. I think they will have more savvy about them now, or at least I hope they do."
Ortmayer admits their play was "very spotty" last year and part of the reason the Kentucky offense struggled.
"I think they have the skills to make plays, but I think that they were not consistent both in their perception of what was going on in the game and in their run blocking execution and being able to get it done," the Kentucky assistant coach said. "I don't think they helped our run situation as much as they should."
Will they be better in the passing game this year?
"They can be. It depends on other things. Our passing game last year was so inexperienced that it didn't give anybody a chance to really step up," Ortmayer said. "All those young receivers were feeling their way and trying to learn the game. We are ahead of where we were last year in the passing game, and that includes the tight ends."
Appreciation: Senior running back Alfonso Smith hopes to have a 1,000-yard rushing season and lead the Kentucky offense this season. However, he knows what it meant to Kentucky's team to have end Jeremy Jarmon, linebacker Micah Johnson and cornerback Trevard Lindley return to UK rather than jump to the NFL.
"It was huge. As far as leadership, experience and talent, those guys all have potential to go to the next level and they chose to stay here and help build on these three bowl wins we have," Smith said." I appreciate that because they are going to be helping me. We all have to lead this team together."
Smith said he was not that surprised all three came back.
"All of them can be even better with another year of experience. Those guys are great guys and they have their education in mind, too," Smith said. "I believe that good things happen for them after this season."
Improving: Kentucky coach Rich Brooks can be harder to please during spring practice at times than he is during the course of a regular season. That's because he insists spring practice plays such a key role in determining what happens during the regular season.
"Spring practice is not only important for the young guys. It's important for the old guys, too," Brooks said. "You can't be happy with what you did last year. You have to keep improving.
"It's my job to remind not only the young guys, but also the seniors. If they're not doing that, then I better rattle their cages a little bit or we will pay the price when next season gets here."