By LARRY VAUGHT
Kash Daniel has a lot of lofty goals for himself during his sophomore season at Kentucky and has them posted on his apartment wall so he sees them every night.
He wants to bench press 405 pounds and squat 550. He wants to play on every special team UK has. He wants to start at linebacker even though UK returns linebackers Jordan Jones and Courtney Love, its top two tacklers from last year.
Daniel also wants to make a national name for himself after making 19 tackles in 13 games last year.
However, the former Paintsville High School standout has one other major goal. He wants to have at least a 3.0 grade point average.
“I think if you are a smart athlete in the classroom, then you will be a smart athlete on the field. I think those two coincide,” Daniel said. “I really busted on my academics this semester and I want to keep being strong on academics.”
He now realizes how much he had to learn as a true freshman about playing in the Southeastern Conference after playing for a small high school.
“It is night and day different for me now. That’s why I am looking forward to fall camp already,” Daniel said. “The way I take on blocks is growing. My eyes are growing. My gap responsibilities are growing. I definitely came to the forefront in the spring compared to last fall.
“I think the flow of the game is slowing down and I can read my keys better. You don’t want to get too fast, but overall I am seeing the blocking schemes better and getting in better position.”
Another standout 2016 in-state signee, Woodford County offensive lineman Drake Jackson, was redshirted last year. Does Daniel ever think maybe he should have done the same thing?
“I have ave contemplated that a few times. I think for me not redshirting has helped me get to where I am right now. I got experience on special teams and experience in some games. I know what speed of games will be like in the SEC,” Daniel said.
He says 15 extra practices UK got in December by getting a bowl bid helped, too.
“It was kind of like spring ball. Three days technique, then prep stuff. Practices helped not just me but everybody, especially those that redshirted or had not played a lot,” Daniel said.
He understands the experience Kentucky returns at linebacker along with the talent of several freshmen players who will add to the mix. But he came to UK to play, not watch.