LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky’s snake-bitten safety, Darius West, suffered a season-ending patellar tendon injury in his left knee during Friday’s practice, coach Mark Stoops announced Saturday. That makes two projected defensive starters lost in the first week of preseason camp, after tackle Regie Meant left the team for unspecified personal reasons.
West, a redshirt sophomore and former 4-star recruit, missed part of his senior season in high school with a broken right tibia, then broke that same bone again in January of 2014. Finally healed and impressing early in his first camp with the Wildcats that fall, West suffered an unspecified season-ending, lower-leg injury.
“That’s a tough blow for him,” Stoops said Saturday. “He’s been through injuries before … worked extremely hard to put him in a position (to play). He’s been really running with the ones ever since spring. He’s been the starter, but in competition. He’s worked really hard and I’m sorry for him.”
West missed two games with an ankle injury last fall but finally found his way onto the field, recording 17 tackles and seeing his role at free safety grow as the season progressed. The good news for Kentucky is it has more than one viable option at that spot: seniors Marcus McWilson (106 career tackles) and Blake McClain (118 career tackles).
“You really feel for him with the injuries he’s had already in his career and how hard he’s fought through to bounce back, how much better of a player he had become even from last year to this year and the effort and enthusiasm and tenacity that Darius put into the game and practice,” defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “It’s disappointing that he’s not going to be able to reap the rewards this year. I still think Darius has a bright future. He’s already bounced back twice, and he bounced back pretty good. I anticipate him to put his nose down and go to work and rehab and come back the type of player that we all know he can be and have an excellent career here when he finishes.”
Other injury notes: Stoops said running back Mikel Horton suffered a “pretty good ankle injury” in Saturday’s scrimmage and wide receiver Blake Bone missed the last two days with a minor hamstring injury.
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