The Kentucky Wildcats 2017-2018 football team had a tremendous season last year with a historic 10-3 record (5-3 in the SEC) and impressive Citrus Bowl win over Penn State on January 1st. Initially, when you think of last years team, two names come to mind: LB Josh Allen & RB Benny Snell Jr. Of course, both Allen and Snell Jr. will go down in the University of Kentucky history books, however, one of the most impressive parts of last years team that is overshadowed is the defensive secondary.
Just in the secondary alone, UK is losing 5 well known players due to graduation and it is very likely that we will be watching a couple of these guys on Sunday’s.
Mike Edwards – Strong Safety/ Nickelback Derrick Baity – Cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. – Cornerback Chris Westry – Cornerback Darius West – Free Safety
With this much talent and experience leaving the program, we take a look at the next man up.
Despite losing majority of their starters on defense, the defensive secondary still has a lot of talent and Mark Stoops is known for his development of defensive backs and safeties. This dates as far back to his coaching days at Miami, Arizona, and Florida State before becoming head coach at UK. (You may have heard of Ed Reed from the U.)
The cats will have to lean on senior safety Jordan Griffin (26 solo career tackles and 1 career interception), redshirt junior cornerback Davonte Robinson (42 career solo tackles and 4 pass deflection), and senior cornerback/JUCO transfer Dominique Williams. Williams transferred last year from Highland C.C. where he totaled 49 tackles, 10 pass breakups, and 3 interceptions. Aside from the seniors, UK will lean on a plethora of underclassmen and incoming freshman.
Names to remember/Returners: Cedrick Dort Jr. (redshirt junior) – Cornerback Tyrell Aijan (redshirt sophomore) – Safety Yusuf Corker – (redshirt sophomore) – Safety Jamari Brown – (sophomore) – Defensive Back/Cornerback Stanley Garner – (sophomore) – Cornerback
Incoming Freshman/JUCO Transfers (2019 Recruiting Class): **** Moses Douglass – Safety (son of UK legend Maurice Douglass) *** MJ Devonshire – Cornerback *** Taj Dodson – Cornerback/Athlete *** Quandre Mosely – Safety (JUCO) *** Brandin Echols – Cornerback (JUCO) *** Jalen Geiger – Cornerback
Vince Marrow, the lead recruiter for the cats, did a tremendous job of bringing in talented defensive backs for the 2019 recruiting class. By adding a couple of junior college transfers, it helps with the lack of experience from the younger more raw corners and safeties. It will be fun to watch this young group grow over the course of the next few seasons, but I suspect there will be some growing pains/learning curves involved. It will be very hard to fill the shoes left behind by the group mentioned above, however, the potential is there. Get ready BBN!