Kentucky Wildcats Football: Linebackers Preview

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Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Brause (SR) – Originally signed as a quarterback, Brause made his way to linebacker and has remained there for the past two seasons. While he is talented and he has great size at 6’4 and 240, he hasn’t been able to get a foothold on anyone position and his prospects of starting are slim this season. He should continue to be a standout on special teams and a top backup in the middle of the defense.

Daron Blaylock (JR) – Most fans assumed that Blaylock would be a linebacker the second the ink on his letter of intent dried. It took a while, but two years and plenty of on-the-field experience as a safety later and he’s finally in a more natural position. When it comes to coverage ability, Blaylock has to be considered one of Kentucky’s top options simply due to his times spent as a safety. He has an outside chance at winning a starting job, but it would seem unlikely at this point. Instead, expect to see Blaylock as part of the Nickel and Dime packages to help protect the defense from athletic tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. As with most of the linebackers, Blaylock has the tools to continue to be a special teams standout.

Dorian Hendrix (FR) – Hendrix was able to enroll in classes early and his ability to participate in spring practices can only help him. He has the right size to play as a true freshman and his best attribute might actually be his intelligence and ability to read plays. Hendrix immediate future is still up in the air as it is unclear exactly where he will fall on the linebacker hierarchy. He could win a starting job as a true freshman, or he could wind up redshirting if the staff thinks they have enough depth. Either way, his long-term future is extremely bright and fans should expect to see him in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

Nico Firios (FR) – While he certainly wins the award for coolest name amongst linebackers, Firios is a long shot to start this season. It’s not the 6’2, 220 pound freshman doesn’t have the skills, but that Firios didn’t arrive on campus until this summer and is behind classmate Hendrix as far as learning the schemes. While a redshirt season would certainly do him good, the staff may have to play Firios this season if he can learn quickly and excel on special teams early on.

Kobie Walker (FR) – Another freshman linebacker, Walker is one of the most unique players in this signing class. He was athletic enough to play safety in high school despite his linebacker-ish size and he should prove to be a weapon for defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot in time. While he could certainly have an early impact, a redshirt season could possibly do more good here than anywhere else as Walker would be allowed a year to learn the position, the defense, and to further fill out his already impressive frame.