LEXINGTON, Ky. — Chris Westry dropped into a celebratory Army roll after shutting down receivers and Derrick Baity said the defensive backs are even bringing their confidence into locker room dance battles.
“Hey, we gotta let the receivers know, man, like if you trying to come at us, it’s war,” Baity said. “It’s really going to be war. But that’s just me and Chris’ swag. That’s what we bring. We like to have fun. We know our ability is going to help us and our technique, so that’s just our swag.”
The duo of sophomore cornerbacks weren’t short on style during Monday morning’s practice, which was open to the media. Westry started all 12 games last season for the Wildcats and Baity started the final four. Along with redshirt sophomore Mike Edwards, the young defensive backs are taking it upon themselves to carry the Kentucky defense.
“We can’t go into a game flat, because I feel like the secondary is our spot on the defense that we’re relying on, so I feel like I’m supposed to bring that spark, that swagger that we need,” Baity said.
More takeaways from the defense:
Sophomore linebacker Kobie Walker is impressing in camp and has a shot to start: “It depends on the package and depends what we’re in, but yes he’s been very good for us,” coach Mark Stoops said. “He’s very active, he’s very versatile. He can cover, he’s a really good rusher, he gives us some flexibility with what we’re doing out there with his spot.”
Along with Walker, Stoops singled out redshirt freshman linebacker Eli Brown as a young player that can step into the middle of the defense: “We always knew he was going to be a good player, but how early or when, we were unsure,” Stoops said. “I think he’s a guy that’s stepping up.”
Defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh praised junior defensive end Alvonte Bell: “He’s got NFL ability. We saw that when we first recruited him out of Florida,” Brumbaugh said. “He’s long, 6-5 or 6-6. He’s 255 pounds and he can run. He’s got a lot of good redeeming qualities.”
Despite the loss of defensive tackle Regie Meant, Brumbaugh said his group is getting better by the day: “I look at it like 10 percent better each day. If I can see them get a little better each day, that’s something we can build on. Each day we walk out, they’re not going to be 100 percent. But 10 percent better each day, then when we get to that game, we have the ability to play fast, physical and do what it takes.”
A general lack of depth has been a concern for the Cats, but Stoops seemed pleased with the progression in camp less than two weeks before the season starts.
“I bet if you asked any SEC head coach if they had a solid two-deep across the board at every position, it would probably be pretty hard to come by,” he said. “So we know we’re not going to ever play with 10 O-linemen in a game and so on. But I do feel like we’re getting where we need to be. When you’re piecing three to four inside linebackers together that can play at a winning level for you, four outside linebackers, and we need six or seven D-linemen. We’re getting to that point.”
- Junior defensive tackle Matt Elam was wearing a soft cast on his left wrist that kept his thumb in place, but Stoops called it “nothing major” and “just preventative.”
- Junior guard Ramsey Meyers was sick Monday morning but should be fine.
- Sophomore wide receiver Jabari Greenwood was held out of practice but should be back in a couple days.
- Sophomore center Jervontius “Bunchy” Stallings will return to practice tomorrow.