The Kentucky football secondary will be as deep as the program has seen in its history. Among the many players that are coming back in that position group, an important member is senior defensive back Brandin Echols.
The Tennessee native joined the Cats after two years at the JuCo level, and started 11 of 13 games last season in the secondary. He totaled 61 tackles last year, good enough for fourth on the squad, and had a team-high nine pass break-ups.
Echols met with the media after practice on Thursday to discuss the return of football, and said the team is anxious to get going on the field.
“We got three more scrimmages until it’s game day, and so far we’ve shown that we are ready,” he said.
The freshman class has received a lot of praise from coaches and veteran players on the team, and Echols is also a part of that bandwagon.
”The whole freshman group, to me, they’ve been the standout completely,” he said. “They showed me something that I wasn’t able to do when I first got here, which is learn the plays faster and just get after it.”
The SEC’s decision to allow football this fall was a big one for those players looking to boost their draft stock, and Brandin Echols is among that group. Now that the league has decided to move forward with playing, the senior DB is ready to show even more of what he can do on the field.
”It was a big decision regarding the SEC, but I’m glad they made the decision to allow us to play because I really need this extra year to show what I can do more,” he said. “Last year I played decent, but I didn’t play to my full potential so I’m ready to show who I really am.”
Echols later said he is playing with more confidence so far in the preseason practices, along with tackling better and developing more of an understanding of the game.
Another key member of the secondary on this team is senior DaVonte Robinson, who played in all 26 games of his redshirt freshman and sophomore years before suffering a season-ending quad injury last season. Now that he is back, Echols said his experience takes the group to another level.
“D-Rob (Robinson), with all of the experience he has and all the talent that he brings to the table, I feel like he will really make an impact,” he said. “And that’s one person that I think people are sleeping on.”
The position group that often spends the most time going up against the secondary is, of course, wide receivers. Echols pointed to senior Josh Ali, junior Clevan Thomas, and redshirt freshman DeMarcus Harris as wideouts that have stood out to him so far.
”They really elevated their game from last season to this season to another level,” he said.
The Kentucky football squad will participate in another scrimmage on Saturday, and then head coach Mark Stoops along with two players will meet with the media afterwards. Stay tuned for further updates on the team’s progression as the season nears.