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The Other Number 26

The #26 on Kentucky Football’s roster some fans may not know of.  

Micheal Nesbitt @97_baller via twitter.

Benny Snell Jr. has become universally known as one of the most electrifying players in college football. Less than halfway through his junior season, Snell is Kentucky’s all-time leader in touchdowns.

His number (26) is seen on college football highlight reels every Saturday. With Snell drawing every inch of spotlight, some may fail to realize there’s a second player wearing #26 on Kentucky’s roster.

The other player who wears #26 is lined up to play a significant role for the team in the future. His name is Michael Nesbitt.

Nesbitt grew up as a three-sport athlete in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He played basketball, football and ran track.

After years of playing all three sports, Nesbitt decided to center his focus on football.

“I stopped basketball because I knew I wasn’t getting taller,” Nesbitt said after a recent UK practice. “Track transferred over to football, so that’s why I went with football.”

Nesbitt attended Boyd Anderson High School in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida. This school is notorious for producing football players, specifically defensive backs like Nesbitt, who have gone on to play in the NFL.

Some notable alumni include two-time Super Bowl champion cornerback Asante Samuel, CB Benny Sapp & current Chicago Bears starting safety Eddie Jackson.

Justin Rowland, a scout from, said Nesbitt was one of the top corners in the state of Florida.

“He has a great combination of the right size, ball skills and athleticism and has demonstrated an ability to play press, man coverage,” Rowland said. “He has faced elite competition and matched up well with some of the state’s top receivers.”

Nesbitt was graded as a three-star recruit and the state’s 112th best college prospect, according to 247 sports.

Nesbitt received over 20 division-one scholarships, including some of the nation’s top football programs. Some notable offers included Auburn, Florida State, LSU, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Additionally, one school on that list was the University of Kentucky as DB coach Steve Clinkscale recruited Nesbitt.

“I recruited Mike to come here and play defensive back,” Clinkscale said. “He was a versatile athlete, who could play corner or safety.”

Despite offers from schools that had a longer winning history than Kentucky, Clinkscale’s efforts to bring Nesbitt north to Lexington would pay off. Nesbitt committed to the Wildcats as a member of the 2017 recruiting class that ranked 30th in the nation.

“It was Coach Stoops,” Nesbitt said. “He coached players like Ed Reed and Sean Taylor into hall of fame guys. Me coming here and doing the things that they did is a good reputation and back round for me.”

Entering his true freshman season, Nesbitt was thrown into a crowded room of DBs. Veterans like Chris Westry, Derrick Baity, Lonnie Johnson and Mike Edwards all had locked down starting spots and many of the bench slots behind them were also filled.

With that, Nesbitt was redshirted.

“It was pretty challenging,” Nesbitt said.

Despite not getting to play in any games, Nesbitt said practicing with the starting DB’s made him a better player.

“I gained weight,” he said. “I got faster and stronger so when my number was called I could replace them [starters] and play just as well as them.”

When asked of Nesbitt’s redshirt season, Coach Clinkscale said the young talent “worked hard on his craft” and “started understanding the game better.”

This season, as a redshirt freshman, Nesbitt has found a role. He has been playing as a special teams gunner on kickoffs and punts. He is also listed second on the depth chart at cornerback behind Baity.

In Kentucky’s 48-10 victory over Murray State, Nesbitt finally made his long-awaited debut on defense.

“It felt good,” Nesbitt said with a grin. “I was a little rusty; I hadn’t played in a full game since high school.”

This is just the beginning for Nesbitt. With Kentucky’s top three corners graduating this-coming spring, he will likely play a big role for the Cats in the fall of 2019.

“I’m focusing on this year, but thoughts like that do come,” Nesbitt said about possibly starting next season. “I watch and see the mistakes they make [starters] because I don’t want to make those mistakes next year when my number’s called.”

Right now, #26 in Lexington is all about Benny Snell (and rightfully so). However, there seems to be another budding star ready to shine in #26 next season.