The Kentucky defense is loaded with experience and depth, as almost the entire starting lineup from the previous season will be returning. One spot in particular that will not be as deep is inside linebacker, as junior Chris Oats, who has seen valuable action in nearly every game since arriving on campus, will likely not be able to play this season due to a serious medical condition.
In his spot, one of the players that UK is looking towards to step up is fellow junior Jamin Davis. The linebacker out of Ludowici, GA, saw limited action in every game of his sophomore and redshirt freshman years. In total, he has 42 tackles on his career along with two interceptions.
After the team’s second preseason inter-squad scrimmage on Saturday, Davis told the media that the position group is keeping Chris Oats in their minds as motivation when they hit the field.
”That’s something that all of us just leave in the back of our mind knowing that at any moment this game could be taken away from us, and we just always keep Chris in our thoughts and prayers,” he said. “We just do what we can to honor him the best we can.”
Even though the linebacker group is without Chris Oats, Davis still feels confident in the chemistry built between him and DeAndre Square.
”Around the time even when Square first got here, we were automatically clicking — me, him and Chris (Oats) are really close so it was just always chemistry there between us two,” he said. “We’re just ready to take this to the next level, and we just always been close.”
As far as replacing Oats between the sidelines, Davis does not feel any pressure in taking over as a starter.
”It’s not really a lot of pressure at all,” he said. “I just try to make sure I can be the best version of myself that I possibly can and just making sure that I step up and be vocal as a leader, so it’s not really any pressure at all to be honest.”
In terms of starting linebacker in the SEC, a conference known for being tough and rugged up the middle defensively, Davis acknowledged there are some challenges playing at such a prestigious spot in the league.
“I would say one of the greatest challenges off top is everything is so fast pace. If you’re not crisp inside the meeting rooms and what not, everything would be just a big blur to you,” he said. “So as far as that I would just say staying inside the playbook, doing what you gotta do — everything can make your confidence grow much more.”
Davis really picked up his production late in the 2019 season, leading the Cats with six tackles against Vanderbilt and seven tackles against Louisville. In the Belk Bowl win against Virginia Tech, Davis totaled another six tackles, as he grew more comfortable in his own game on the field.
“I would just say my confidence grew a lot more and just making sure I knew what I was supposed to be doing on the field,” he said about his increased role last season.
Davis also credited former UK linebacker Kash Daniel with his increased productivity and comfortability on the field.
“I also give a lot of credit to Kash (Daniel), because last year we used to have a lot of personal conversations in our hotel room and what not,” he said.
The Cats finished their second preseason scrimmage on Saturday, and have two more to go before squaring off against Auburn on Sept. 26. Keep following along here on cameronmillsradio.com for continued coverage dealing with this coming season.