While the departure of quarterback of Stephen Johnson leaves multiple questions at the position, Kentucky can hang their hat on one other position besides linebacker, running back and safety: Cornerback.
Derrick Baity is set to start alongside Lonnie Johnson this fall as both senior DBs join Darius West and Mike Edwards in the defensive backfield. Here’s everything you need to know about Baity heading into his final season with the Cats.
Measurements: 6’3, 182 pounds
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
School: H. B. Plant
Recruit ranking: No. 1,061 player, No. 93 cornerback (247 Sports)
Baity is coming off a junior season of which he totaled 49 tackles, nine pass defenses, two interceptions and a forced fumble. The veteran Wildcat started every game for the second consecutive season, priming him to be a veteran leader this fall for Mark Stoops’s defense.
Here’s Baity with last year’s game-clinching interception at South Carolina.
Derrick Baity puts this game away. pic.twitter.com/rX5DgotUPX— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 17, 2017
It was one of his bigger games of the season, as he racked up a season-high eight tackles to go along with the INT.
While he’s clearly the best cover-corner on Kentucky’s roster, he also excels by getting into the backfield to disrupt other teams.
Here’s Baity in the same game, this time joining teammate Courtney Love to shut the Gamecocks down on 4th & 1.
Derrick Baity and Courtney Love blow up this 4th and 1. Huge stop. pic.twitter.com/J5EWSA7Yfe— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 17, 2017
Baity also doesn’t shy away from the moment, bringing the heat on this tackle in last year’s bowl game.
Derrick Baity laying the wood. pic.twitter.com/gATtNRENxi— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) December 30, 2017
Last year wasn’t an anomaly, as Baity started all 12 games for the Cats in 2016 as well. Recording more interceptions as a sophomore (3) than a junior (2), here’s a look at when he wrestled a ball away from a Tennessee Volunteer.
No matter the opponent, Baity always finds himself making plays around the ball. As one of Stoops’ best players on the roster, let alone the defensive side of the ball, he should bring high expectations to a veteran secondary.
And to Baity’s credit, he’s not satisfied with his individual play. He’s ready to take his game to another level so his team has more success.
“We hear the outside,” Baity told Cats Pause in August. “We know, in ourselves, we know we haven’t lived up to expectations. We want to live up to the expectations now. We know on the back end, there’s so many seniors back there, and if we can just stop the pass, that’ll help the run game. It all compliments with each other.”
It all goes back to the Music City Bowl loss to Northwestern, which left Baity at 0-2 in postseason games in his Kentucky career.
Secondary coach Steve Clinkscale detailed Baity’s offseason goal to become the best versions of himself, and in the process, help Kentucky reach a new level of success.
“After the bowl game, he (Baity) and I had a little sit down and we talked about what his future would be,” Clinkscale said. “What did he want his legacy to be? We bring these young men in here every year and tell them we’re going to make them better men.
“Part of that is them taking the medicine and learning and growing from it. He’s had adversity throughout his life. You have a great presence about you. You have leadership skills and qualities.
“Let’s take it to the next level. Let’s stop talking so much, as far as distraction talking, and let’s focus in on the bigger picture of helping your team and using your ability as a leader to make us better. He’s really taken a hold of that and he’s doing a better job for us on and off the field.”
If Baity can reach his goals and help the Wildcats reach new heights, he should hear his name called at some point in the 2019 NFL Draft.