Jojo Kemp is one talented tailback among many in a crowded Kentucky backfield, all competing for playing time in an offense predicated on throwing the ball.

UK managed to give four tailbacks between 59 and 74 carries a year ago, but it also ranked 11th in the SEC in rushing offense. Three of those tailbacks, including Kemp, are back for another go-round in 2015, but will there be enough carries to go around?

The answer to that question remains to be uncovered, and it likely won’t be until the regular season kicks off in September. Nevertheless, even when paths leading to starting jobs in other places presented themselves, Kemp remained loyal to Kentucky and head coach Mark Stoops.

“Of course I got phone calls from different people — you know I can’t go into that, though — I got phone calls from different people and a lot of people were putting that in my head,” Kemp told the Lexington Herald-Leader regarding the prospects of him transferring last winter.

“To me, thinking about leaving at that point in time was almost like giving up on my teammates. That’s not right. That’s selfish in my eyes.”

So Kemp stayed, even though there’s no guaranteed role for him in Kentucky’s offense. On the bright side, new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson appears to be giving every player on the offense a second chance to make a first impression as he decides UK’s starting lineup for himself, giving Kemp a chance to overcome his woeful end to last season.

The high point of Kemp’s sophomore season in 2014 was Kentucky’s win over South Carolina on Oct. 4. Trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter on their home field, the Wildcats enlisted Kemp as their Wildcat quarterback. Not for one play or one series, but for most of the fourth quarter.

Despite trailing by two touchdowns, Kemp carried the ball on direct snaps 14 times for 116 yards and two scores to lead Kentucky to an upset victory. He was carried off the field and appeared to be a superstar in the making for the Cats.

But in UK’s final seven games after topping the Gamecocks, Kemp rushed for just 37 yards on only 20 carries, an average of fewer than 2 yards per carry. Kemp’s season may as well have ended in early October. His late-season struggles were a major reason many thought he might transfer.

Instead, he’s determined to work even harder to impress Dawson and earn playing time in the backfield. Rising sophomore Boom Williams, the team’s leading rusher a year ago and the player perceived as UK’s most explosive playmaker, won’t make Kemp’s path onto the field any less treacherous.

But if Kemp wanted the easy way out, he wouldn’t be at Kentucky anymore.

“Basically, I just wanted to work and reclaim my spot,” Kemp told the Herald-Leader. “I want to outwork everybody. I want to do everything it takes.”

For starters, Kemp is healthier than he was during the second half of last season, which should allow him to raise his explosiveness on the field as a runner capable of busting between the tackles or getting to the edge in a hurry.

He has a history of ankle injuries in both ankles, and according to tailbacks coach Chad Scott, he needs to regain confidence in his ankles to regain his swagger on the field.

Luckily for Scott and the rest of the Wildcats, Kemp isn’t backing down from the challenge. And with that work ethic and passion for his team, Kemp is going to make UK better in 2015 no matter what role he earns on offense.