Much of the attention in the 2014 recruiting class has been paid to guys like Drew Barker, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Darius West, and Denzel Ware. To an extent, that’s fair. Those four are all near consensus four-star players and, along with a couple of other guys, are some of the highest rated recruits Kentucky has ever gotten. For the most part these guys have also formed the nucleus for the class.
All that considered, someone has been forgotten.
Linebacker Dorian Hendrix is Kentucky’s first commitment in the class. We could probably count Denzel Ware as the first commit, but his decision to back off and then come back on board makes Hendrix the longest tenured commitment in the class. And he’s one hell of a starting block. Like every other year I can remember though, Kentucky fans start to forget the guys that committed first. Time dulls all things and the luster of a football recruit in the top 25 at their position is unfortunately no different.
The reality is that the Kentucky defense needs a lot of work. The transition from the 3-4r defense to the 4-3 has left a couple of positions undermanned and a couple of players that don’t really fit in. After the new staff declined to sign a single linebacker in the 2013 class, it was imperative that they find a good crop of players in the 2014 class, and even more so that they found a quality middle linebacker to build the defense around.
Hendrix could very well be that guy.
To have a great team you need balance. For every great quarterback there’s got to be a great defensive player, often a linebacker. We seeing guys like Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher completely take over games and lead their teams as what is essentially a quarterbacks on defense. Hendrix is not necessarily the biggest linebacker but he is still very very talented. He has ideal strength and speed for the position and what he lacks in height he makes up for an intellect. He’s so good, that it is a very real possibility that he is the leading candidate to start at middle linebacker in 2014…as a true freshman. Maybe more importantly, he can be the center of what is undoubtedly the most talented defensive class Kentucky has ever put together.
So don’t let the luster wear off. As Kentucky received more and more commitments, don’t forget the guy that started it all.