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Kentucky Position Breakdown: Defensive Backs

Breaking down Kentucky’s key defensive backs.

NCAA Football: Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky has had a very good secondary group of players over the past couple years, and there’s no reason to expect anything but great things from them this year.

UK has a lot of defensive backs returning, like Derrick Baity, Lonnie Johnson and Mike Edwards. There will be plenty of experience and veteran leadership within the group. Lets break down the very talented group of defensive backs.

Derrick Baity, Jr (senior CB): The extremely talented NFL-type defensive back has returned for his senior season at UK and the Tampa, Florida, native is expected to be a vital asset for the UK defense this season.

Baity started 12 of UK’s 13 games in the 2017 season, racking 49 tackles and grabbing two interceptions. Baity also had three pass breakups vs. Missouri. He is a very tall and athletic defensive back, who will be capable of playing in the NFL. Baity has been a key part of the UK defense, and with his speed and explosion abilities, there is no doubt that he will be a star for this unit.

Mike Edwards (redshirt senior SS): The standout safety is back for his senior season despite the fact that many thought he would go to the NFL Draft after his great 2017 season.

Edwards is the backbone and the quarterback of the UK defense. Kentucky was thrilled to have Edwards return for his senior season after he became an All-SEC player and racked up four interceptions in 2017. Edwards has looked really good in the spring and now in summer camp. He has shown a lot of improvement in his game.

Edwards looks to be a bit stronger and has added some more explosiveness to his game. Edwards is a NFL guy, because he is really good at finding the ball and going after it. Edwards is the guy that you want at safety. He is great field vision and doesn’t make many mistakes. If the defense will trust him and follow his lead, they will be much improved.

Lonnie Johnson (senior CB): The Garden City Community College product is ready for his senior season after a very good 41 tackles in the 2017 season.

Johnson transferred from Garden City Community College, the same college as Terry Wilson in 2015. While at Garden City, he was able to become a four-star prospect and the No. 2 safety in junior college. He chose to come to UK over Georgia and West Virginia. In 2017, Johnson played in all 13 games at cornerback, and he even blocked two kicks on special teams.

Johnson has a long frame at 6-3 and he is very athletic and explosive when he goes after the ball. He is one of the best lockdown cornerbacks in the SEC. If Johnson can stay healthy and have another good year for UK, he could kick start his NFL career as well as help Kentucky go to their third straight bowl game.

Darius West (Redshirt Senior FS): the talented Lima, Ohio native is much improved and he’s ready for a big senior season with the Cats.

West started 12 of 13 games last season for UK and he was able to record 4.0 tackles for loss as well as record 86 tackles, which ranked third on the team. Ware has had a roller coaster career at UK, playing 10 of 12 games as a redshirt freshman before injuring his knee and missing his entire sophomore season.

Out of high school, Ware was ranked as the No. 219 prospect in the nation by Rivals top 250 and the 18th best cornerback. Ware is a very aggressive defensive back, as he likes to jump routes and hit people as soon as they catch the ball. He doesn’t have a ton of interceptions, but he’s so athletically gifted, he makes a ton of plays around the line of scrimmage. If ware can manage to stay healthy, he will have a big year for the Cats.

The UK secondary is very talented and very deep. Not only do they have the guys I have listed, but they also have several players backing them up. Some of those players to keep an eye out for is, Chris Westry, who I think will get the call as a starter eventually, as well as Jordan Griffin and Davonte Robinson.