LEXINGTON, Ky. — Josh Allen is Kentucky’s best NFL prospect, and new outside linebackers coach Brad White has a pretty good idea of how to get to that level.
Allen was likely to get drafted after his 66-tackle and 7-sack junior season that ranked eighth in the SEC. But the 6-foot-5 and 230-pound outside linebacker from Montclair, N.J., made a surprise decision to return for his senior season.
Enter White, who was hired Feb. 1 as Kentucky’s 10th assistant. White coached outside linebackers for the Indianapolis Colts from 2015-17 and was on the Colts staff since 2012.
White was available to local media for the first time Monday afternoon. He hopes his NFL experience will give him traction, albeit as the new guy, with players like Allen.
“They understand, ‘OK, this guy has been there. He understands what he’s looking for.’ I obviously have friends around the NFL,” White said. “They’ll know and respect the teaching I’ll give these players.”
White hasn’t been on a college staff since 2011 when he was inside linebackers coach at Air Force. He had a brief stint at Murray State before that.
“I think when (Allen) watches the drill tapes that I have and you watch an NFL logo on the helmet, your ears perk,” White said. “You’re a little bit more wide-eyed, ‘OK, now I understand what I have to do.’
Allen had a sack in Kentucky’s first six games. He and fellow outside linebacker Denzil Ware dubbed themselves the “Blitz Brothers” with freshman outside linebacker Josh Paschal as the “Blitz Baby.”
But Allen’s rapid sack pace trailed off. He didn’t record a sack in Kentucky’s final five games.
White might not have been directly referencing Allen on Monday, but he seemed to hint at not accepting a similar decline in production.
“It’s not just about being the best 50 percent of the time, I’ve gotta be the best against everybody,” White said. “And it doesn’t matter how good a tackle may be for another program. ‘Well, I was good in eight of the 12 games, but the four games I wasn’t good, that was the best tackle I faced all year.’ Well that’s not gonna cut it. The best tackle in college football may not crack the starting lineup in the NFL.”
White finished his playing career at Wake Forest with 227 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. Kentucky special teams coordinator Dean Hood was his defensive coordinator at Wake Forest from 2002-04.
In a way he’s replacing Hood, but White isn’t fond of the terminology. Hood coached Kentucky’s outside linebackers last season, but Mark Stoops is moving him back to the secondary to assist defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale. The secondary is a more familiar place for Hood.
“Coach (Hood) is a mentor of mine,” White said. “I told him the minute I walked in, very much of what I do and how I approach coaching I’ve taken from him. I’ve always had the utmost respect. It’s definitely a different deal in terms of being a colleague.”
White is Kentucky’s third outside linebackers coach in three years — following D.J. Eliot and Hood.
When Stoops tabbed Michael Smith as his new receivers coach, the connections were obvious. Smith’s relationship with the Stoops brothers date back to his college days. That wasn’t the case for White. He played for Hood, but Stoops had no prior relationship with him.
Stoops agreed it was a rare hiring move, but he heard what he needed to hear from former Colts coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
“As far as what type of person you’re getting, I had no questions there,” Stoops said of White. “Then when we bring him in, go through the interview process, he really impressed me quite a bit. I knew halfway through that interview that I wanted to wrap it up and get recruiting him to take the job because he was having some other opportunities. I wanted to lock him up.”
It could be an ideal fit for players like Allen and Ware, both hoping to play on Sundays in 2019.
“When you’re coaching in the SEC, you’re working with NFL-caliber talent,” White said. “I’m looking forward to working with these guys. I’m looking forward to trying to help them to the next level.”