Paintsville, Kentucky native Kash Daniel was one of several in-state commitments in the Kentucky Wildcats’ 2016 recruiting class that garnered a lot of excitement among Kentucky football fans.
Daniel was named Kentucky Mr. Football and growing up in eastern Kentucky, he had dreams of donning the Wildcats uniform and playing in the SEC.
So far, through his first two seasons, Daniel has played behind Courtney Love, but has made an impact on special teams, especially for his motor and effort in an often forgotten part of the game.
But now, with Love graduated, Daniel has his opportunity to be a starting linebacker for the Wildcats this upcoming year.
Kash Daniel playing his guts out on special teams.— Freddie Maggard (@UKPlayerDevelop) November 6, 2016
Kash Daniel gets the first down on the fake punt. pic.twitter.com/nHZtHSAK6d— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) October 8, 2017
Position: Inside Linebacker
Measurements: 6’1”, 242 lbs.
Hometown: Paintsville, KY
School: Paintsville High School
Recruit Rankings: No. 12 inside linebacker in the Class of 2015
Daniel has become a fan favorite for many reasons.
He is a homegrown talent that was recruited by several powerhouse programs. He was a U.S. Army All-American with offers from Michigan, Louisville, South Carolina, and others.
He has a very outgoing personality, as evidenced by this clip from his days at Paintsville High School.
It’s that personality, his desire to win, and passion for the game that have won over many members of the Big Blue Nation. Daniel has a chance to win even more people over this year in a much larger role.
And Kentucky Mark Stoops has taken notice that Daniel is doing everything he can to cement his spot as a starter.
“Kash is doing a very good job. I talked a lot about it in the spring,” Stoops said at media day. “I was very pleased with the way he’s taken charge of the defense. He’s passionate about it. There’s no doubt about it. He’s going to give you everything he has but he has good command of the defense. He’s playing very well, playing very confident and I’m excited about Kash.”
That’s not to say there aren’t areas of improvement that Daniel will have to show to maintain his spot and become a star in the Wildcats talented linebacker group.
The coaches have told Daniel that he needs to work on his lateral quickness, a key attribute for his position and one that his predecessor, Love, also had to continually work on.
“I’m really excited about Kash. I think he’s prepared well for this opportunity. He had a good spring, good summer,” Kentucky defensive coordinator Matt House said at media day. “He’s a guy who has been here really three springs now. I am really excited to see Kash this season.”
The coaches believe that Daniel can step in and immediately fill that leadership void left by Love. Daniel seems to be a guy that his teammates can rally around and be a commanding presence in the huddle and in the locker room.
That’s been evident early in fall camp, as Daniel has been one of the most vocal leaders on either side of the ball during practice. He’s constantly coaching up younger linebackers while also calling the defense and making adjustments. He’s become a second coach on the field, which is exactly what this unit needs after far too many busted assignments last season.
Kentucky has a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball this year. Josh Allen, Jordan Jones, Mike Edwards, Derrick Baity, and Chris Westry are all players who project to be important pieces this year, but Daniel may be one of the most critical pieces to the Wildcats defense this year. It sounds like he is up to the task.
“For me, it’s kind of like saying it’s my time,” Daniel said during spring football. “My time is here, and I’m not going to let it slip through my fingers.”