Returning eight starters and 17 of the top 22 players on the depth chart, the Wildcat defense is…
Kentucky staff nailing others' misses
All of that brain power and brute strength could combine to overpower opponents and prove he is a viable first team All-Sec defensive end.
"We don't always recruit on height and weight at Kentucky," Brooks said on the podium at the SEC meetings. He evidenced this fact by pointing out Jeremy Jarmon and Derrick Locke.
Neither Jarmon nor Locker were considered to be prototypes for their current positions coming out of high school.
Jarmon came out of high school as a 220-pound player and is now 285-pounds. In the case of Locke, from Oklahoma, who was being recruited by Big Eight schools as a defensive back, he played the running back position very well as a true freshman last season gaining over 500-yards.
Jarmon had to overcome some early injuries in his career to get to the position he has elevated himself to at Kentucky and in the SEC. Jarmon injured his shoulder coming out of high school when he played on the Tennessee high school all-star football team, which precipitated a redshirt at UK. Later that year he was home for Christmas break when injured his ACL while he working out.
Brooks alluded to the fact that he feels he has several starters on the defensive side of the football that could start on a lot of big time schools in the SEC. It would follow that Jarmon feels good about that situation as well, knowing he has plenty of help on defense, especially at his position. The defense is the unit that's expected to keep Kentucky in position to challenge for bowl competition.
As with any football team looking to continue to move up the ladder in the SEC and to prove they will be reckoned with on a regular basis, recruiting classes have to be layered with good football players that can compete at the highest levels in the SEC. The people who have the best feel for who can play at the highest level of the SEC are the players themselves on the team. And to that end Jarmon feels that he has some help coming from a couple incoming freshmen. He likes the prospects of former Louisville St. X. freshman Matt Smith and Cincinnati LaSalle freshman Chandler Burden.
"Matt is strong and Chandler is very, very strong," said Jarmon of the help he expects to receive in the defensive line.
"We've got guys that belong in the SEC," Brooks said. "We have SEC type football players on the defensive side of the ball."
Jarmon was asked if they are the defensive unit that's going to be operating on pride that they can live up to the expectation of being the side of the ball that will lead the Wildcats.
"Yeah, I guess it's going to be pride because they (last years offense) had a lot of pride knowing that they were going to put up a lot of points with the kind of weapons they had," Jarmon said. "So we feel we are going to be able to prevent teams from putting up a lot of points this year. That's our goal that our offense, which isn't as high powered as it was last year, that it still has weapons that will still be able to put up enough points to win the game. The only way that that's going to happen is if we go into every game with the mantra that we are going to shut guys down.
Jarmon said he still maintains a good relationship with former defensive end Dennis Johnson though he's only talked to him a couple times this summer; which bodes well for establishing a defensive tradition at Kentucky.
One Tennessee writer asked me quizzically as to whether Jarmon was recruited very high out of high school in wonderment as to how he got out of Tennessee not being recruited by Phil Fulmer. This may be a question Fulmer will be asking his staff this season, if he hasn't already done so
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