Kentucky Wildcats Football: The BIG picture at defensive back

Nov 3, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores running back Kris Kentera (82) runs the ball against Kentucky Wildcats cornerback Cody Quinn (16) at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports


Kentucky received a commitment from Georgia defensive back Jared Tucker yesterday, the ninth pledge in UK’s 2014 class. Tucker hails from Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, a program Wildcat fans should be all too familiar with. He is a consensus three star player across all four primary recruiting databases although he does not sport the type of offer list you might expect from a typical three-star player. Tucker picked the Wildcats over Miami (FL) in the end but also had offers from Florida, Florida State, South Carolina, Ohio State, and numerous other high-profile programs. For more on Tucker’s commitment, you can read Darren’s article HERE, because today’s piece was triggered by Tucker’s commitment, but isn’t really about it.

On to the point… What does Tucker’s pledge mean in regards to Kentucky recruiting other defensive backs???

In a word: Nothing

In four words: Not a damn thing

You get the idea.

It’s important to remember that just about every defensive back in the roster will be needed this coming season due to a DIRE lack of depth at both cornerback and safety. To do a quick recap…

At corner, Kentucky had four scholarship players this spring. Junior Eric Simmons has yet to contribute in his time at UK but could break out this year due to a huge opportunity. Sophomores Cody Quinn and Fred Tiller played very well at times in their true freshman season and will be counted on to contribute big minutes this fall. Redshirt freshman Shawn Blaylock is coming off of a knee injury that forced him to sit out last season and is still an unknown at this point. Walk-on J.D. Harmon should contribute, but that is it at cornerback. Junior college transfer Nate Willis should make waves early and incoming freshmen Jaleel Hytchye and Blake McClain will need to be ready right away because that is it. That is only SEVEN total corners, so Kentucky couldn’t even fill out a two-deep in the dime package.

At safety, things are slightly better, with an emphasis on “slightly.” Junior Ashely Lowery is a huge question mark at this point after a serious car wreck earlier this spring. He is easily Kentucky’s most proven safety and has only been a part time starter this past year after playing as a reserve his freshman season. Daron and Zach Blaylock earned their stripes as true freshmen last season and should be very good this year, although Daron might be headed to the linebacker position soon considering he is 220+ pounds. Glenn Faulkner redshirted last year due to injury and has yet to make much of an impact on the field, and Eric Dixon has bounced back and forth between corner and safety so much that its hard to guess how much of an impact he might have. Redshirt freshmen Josh Harris and Sterling Wright wrap up the safety position and neither has taken a snap in college. Adding Marcus McWilson in the 2013 class was huge, but he just isn’t enough. Assuming Daron Blaylock stays at Safety and Ashely Lowery is 100% by this fall, there are still barely enough bodies to get by.

Now consider that there isn’t a single defensive back on the roster that has started a complete season, and you can start to understand the situation. Nabbing a JUCO corner, a big-time safety, and two promising corners in the 2013 class helped, but it really wasn’t even close to enough. With offenses moving towards multiple receiver sets and spreading the field out, defensive backs are crucial in today’s game. With a roster that does not contain a single PROVEN defensive back, it is imperative that Kentucky load up on defensive backs in the 2014 class.

So what does this mean for remaining targets? Well, that’s pretty simple. UK probably needs to sign 6 or more defensive backs in this class. At this point, they have only 1. There is so much playing time available for defensive backs at Kentucky it is painful.

Now competing schools will tell Kentucky targets that UK is recruiting too many defensive backs to sway them away from joining Stoops in Lexington. It is seriously a funny idea to think about. Can you imagine a school telling you not to go to another school because your position is the biggest need on the other team’s roster and they are targeting too many people? It’s silly. I mean imagine if the school suggesting this was a team like, I don’t know, maybe the Louisville Cardinals? Think about how preposterous it would be to have a team like, hypothetically, the Louisville Cardinals, tell you that you shouldn’t go play defensive back at UK because the Wildcats are targeting too many players (most of which are not as talented as you)? It would be even more silly…maybe borderline retarded…if that hypothetical school, like UofL, already had FOUR freaking defensive backs committed and Kentucky only had one. Right. I don’t know where I was going with that ridiculous idea because it would be asinine for a hypothetical school like Louisville to suggest anything of the sort to Kentucky recruits. Moving on…

I’m betting it doesn’t work anyway.

The DBs on the roster are promising, but most are unknowns at this point. If the Wildcats sign 6 defensive backs that are safety/corner hybrids, I would bet that at least five will play as true freshmen. The depth is just that bad at this point. Jared Tucker is an awesome addition, but he isn’t enough alone. Defensive backs considering Kentucky should actually be PRAYING that UK keeps recruiting other DBs. Otherwise, they may have to play on a defense that uses defensive ends and linebackers to cover receivers.

Kentucky is recruiting the best of the best this year and the best players want to compete. In my experience just about all of the defensive backs Stoops and company are after can take one look at the roster and get the picture.

In conclusion, adding Tucker was crucial and he fills a serious need…but he can’t cover four receivers and a tight end on his own. Kentucky will need all the help it can get at DB. Guys like Darius West and Mike Edwards can be critical cogs in the Kentucky recruiting class that is shaping up to be a top 10 class in the country.

Tags: Football Kentucky Wildcats

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