Who will take over the starting job now?
True sophomore Alvin “Bud” Dupree is expected to take on the starting role. On the bright side, Dupree was a stand out performer last season in limited time. He came to Kentucky as an ‘Athlete’ that had some potential at several positions. He started camp out last summer as a tight end and was predictably moved to the defense after a week or so. Dupree quickly shot up the depth chart and went from being the number two guy at the OLB/DE position at the beginning of the season, to a part-time starter with Wilson. Dupree was so impressive, that many thought he might beat our Wilson for the starting job this season anyway.
Are there any other options?
Several other players expected to compete at the OLB/DE hybrid position have shown real promise as well. Justin Henderson had a phenomenal spring last year and Farrington Huguenin and Trevaughn Paschal have both drawn praises from the coaching staff as well.
How does this affect the rest of the defense?
The biggest question on defense, is finding out who the leader of the unit will be. Only safeties Martavius Neloms and Mikie Benton and defensive linemen Mister Cobble, Donte Rumph, and Collins Ukwu will return as incumbent starters. With linebackers typically being charged with making play calls and coverage changes, Kentucky will have to decide whether to put this responsibility on a new starter or delegate it to another position.
What does losing Wilson mean in the grand scheme of things?
The reality of losing Wilson is that Kentucky has lost it’s only experienced player off of the line of scrimmage. Neloms is still only a year into playing safety, Benton started for the first time this season and is far from a lock to retain his starting job, and every other linebacker or defensive back from last season is gone. Wilson was supposed to be the bridge that gave the young linebackers on the roster a little bit of veteran help and guidance in 2012. Now, junior Avery Williamson and sophomore Alvin Dupree will be the team’s most experienced players at linebacker and will be responsible for providing the veteran presence.
Can Kentucky overcome this loss?
Absolutely. Lets be realistic. Wilson was a very good player, but in three years of playing time he has never been a standout. Maybe it was being in the shadow of guys like Micah Johnson, Sam Maxwell, Danny Trevathan, and Winston Guy, but he never became a star. The potential was certainly there for him to have a breakout season, but truth be told, Dupree may have a higher upside anyway.