Jordan Nevels is making his way to the University of Kentucky campus soon. And that in itself is something that Nevels wasn’t sure would happen as his high school career closed. Yes, he knew Kentucky wanted him. But when did they want him? That word “greyshirt” had reared its ugly head, and even though he wanted to help the team, he didn’t really want to miss a season, even if he just dressed and stayed on the sideline for a redshirt. The 5’10”, 185-pound safety out of Fort Thomas Highlands will now be needed to play because of the numbers game at Kentucky. And he can’t wait.
Nevels had a great season at Highlands, a surprise to very few. But all through his high school career, he didn’t have to do too much during the off-season to keep him in shape. That all changed once graduation rolled around, and Kentucky was calling. “This summer has been unlike any other,” said Nevels. “I never really had to push or work that hard. But I know coming in this year, it is going to be a different level of play. So I have stepped up my workout, been lifting everyday, been eating right, and making sure I get enough sleep. I’m just doing things I need to do to prepare my body and mind, to get ready to play at this next level.” Nevels is not expecting anything when he arrives for fall camp. He’ll just let the chips fall where they may. “I am coming in just as any other player, seeing what happens in practices coming up, as to how much playing time I get this year, or redshirt, or whatever. I am just going to play the best I can and just let whatever happens fall into the coaches hands.”
Nevels raised many eyebrows with a solid performance at the Kentucky-Tennessee All-Star Game this summer at Papa John’s Stadium in Louisville. He logged 3 tackles, a pass breakup or two, but really came up big with good pass defense in the red zone. Tennessee had 322 yards passing in that contest, but a lot of those yards were between the twenties. Nevels knew it was an opportunity to show those who thought Kentucky may have wasted their time by going after him that they were wrong. “Coming into that game,” began Nevels, “I realized that Tennessee had just as good players as Kentucky. Those were going to be the players that I would face the in the next few years. So coming in, nobody really knew too much about me. They just saw my size and had never really seen me play. I took that as a chance to play and show what my talents and strengths are.” In that game, Nevels played both corner and safety, something he wouldn’t mind doing at Kentucky…if it will get him on the field more. “I think safety is maybe my normal position. That’s the position I have played all my life and that is probably the position I will play here soon. That is where I am most comfortable. But whatever I need to do, I can play both of them, so it doesn’t matter really. As far as right now, the UK coaches are seeing me as corner starting off, and then I guess we will see if I make the transition to safety. As long as we put more wins up this season, that’s all I’m about this year.”
So does the prospect of redshirting bother Nevels? Not at all. “Everyone would like to come and play as a true freshman,” said Jordan. “But I think a redshirt is just a good opportunity to gain experience. Not out there playing, but developing your body. You get bigger and you get stronger. You get mentally smarter. So I see that as an opportunity to get better.” But Nevels would love to be on the field on September 4, to take part in the grudge match that is Kentucky versus Louisville. “That rivalry is going to be something great to experience. I can’t wait.”