LEXINGTON, Ky. — His 2017 goals are the last thing Kash Daniel sees before he goes to bed.
Daniel, a Kentucky sophomore linebacker, has them written on the wall in his apartment, and after spring practice Thursday, he was asked what they were. So Daniel picked up his phone, and about 15 seconds later, he started rattling them off.
Daniel hurried through the list, but there seemed to be eight: have a 3.0 GPA, bench 405 pounds, squad 550 pounds, cling (inaudible), become faster and stronger, play on all special teams, start at mike linebacker.
And the last? “Make a national name for myself,” said Daniel, who is from Paintsville, Ky. — population about 4,000 in eastern Kentucky.
Daniel had 19 tackles in 13 games last season as a freshman. Most of Daniel’s time came on special teams, but according to his goals he’s looking for a starting spot in 2017. Senior Courtney Love and junior Jordan Jones are Kentucky’s projected starters at inside linebacker.
Jones led the team with 109 tackles last season. Love was second with 76.
“You didn’t sign a letter of intent to say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go here and back up for four years,’ ” Daniel said. “That’s a mentality you have to have. Every day you approach practice, you never know when your number’s going to be called.”
Daniel said he’s understanding the game better after his first season. Defensive coordinator Matt House, who doubles as the inside linebackers coach, said Daniel looks “more natural” during spring practice than he did a season ago.
Daniel said he’s contemplated the fact that he didn’t redshirt last year but said it was good to gain experience on special teams and see limited action at linebacker. Expectations will surely raise in 2017 for the former 4-star prospect.
He said he improved his lateral quickness, but strength remains Daniel’s most impressive attribute. He is a specimen at 6-foot-1, 240 pounds.
A reporter asked Daniel why 405 pounds was his bench press goal and not something like 395.
“It’s just five pounds,” Daniel said to laughs. “Put a cookie on there, do that thing.”
As for the GPA goal?
“I think if you’re a smart athlete in the classroom, you’re gonna be a smart athlete on the field,” Daniel said. “I really think those two coincide.”
Daniel said he got his season goals idea, which he did last year as well, from former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss. Daniel said Moss did something similar in the ESPN 30 for 30 about Moss called “Rand University.”
“If I can turn out like him, I think I’ll be pretty fine,” Daniel said.