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Xavier Peters can be THE difference-maker on Kentucky’s defense

He may not be not Josh Allen, but he is closer than you think.


Last season, Kentucky’s defense was one of the single best units in the country. They carried the offense, at times, dominated many of the Wildcats’ 10 wins, and made huge plays every time the game was on the line.

A year later, many faces from that group have moved on. The most notable hole is left from consensus All-American Josh Allen. Many had believed that Josh Paschal would have Allen’s large shoes to fill, but then Xavier Peters decided to move closer to home to take care of his son. That could end up being a huge game changer for the Wildcats this season and for years to come.

Xavier Peters

  • Position: Outside linebacker
  • Class: Redshirt freshman
  • Measurements: 6-4, 235 pounds
  • Hometown: West Chester, OH
  • School: Lakota West High School
  • Recruit Rankings: No. 15 outside linebacker and No. 5 prospect from Ohio in 2018 via 247 Sports composite

Xavier Peters is a freak athlete that can make an immediate impact on this year’s defense for Kentucky. After spending a year at Florida State, Peters, moved to Kentucky to be closer to his family in Ohio. Peters had actually committed to Kentucky early in his recruitment before ultimately choosing the Seminoles.

But hey, it all worked out.

The first obstacle Peters will face at Kentucky is becoming eligible to play. Since he only appeared in two games last season for Florida State, that is considered a redshirt year and he has four years of eligibility remaining. However, by rule he would still have to sit for a season if not granted an eligibility waiver by the NCAA.

Vince Marrows feels that Peters has a really strong chance to be approved by the NCAA, and made his case to Larry Vaught back in May.

“I still can’t see how some did get waivers, but if I was at the NCAA and a guy really wants to be a father, especially speaking as an African-American man, I would like to see him get that opportunity,” Marrow told Vaught. “Obviously we would like to have him but mainly I would like to see him get it (the waiver) being a young African-American father who wants to be around his kid.”

As of late July, there is no official word on whether or not he will be able to suit up for the Wildcats this fall. If he does, though, Peters has what it takes to be a difference-maker from his very first snap.

Peters is an athletic freak that can get after it like few men his size. At 6-4, Peters has the size to play defensive line and stuff the run, but the speed to step back into pass coverage and to make tackles all over the field.

Does that sound familiar?

No, Xavier Peters is not going to be Josh Allen. While impressive early on in his career, Josh Allen was not really Josh Allen until his senior season. But could Xavier Peters show us glimpses this season of a young Allen? Marrow believes he certainly has that ability.

“Oh, he’s going to get minutes this season,” Marrow said on KSR shortly after Peters’ commitment became official. “He’s probably the closest thing to Josh Allen, at least physically, right now. Xavier has that ability. He has the potential (to be like Allen).”

Given Allen’s legendary status in Kentucky lore, you would think Marrow would be quick to pump the brakes on such a comparison. Nothing good can come from over-selling a player. It can put too much pressure on the player and cause fans to become disgruntled. So if Marrow is this high on Xavier Peters’ ability despite those risks, it seems Big Blue Nation may be in for a treat when Peters takes the field.

Filling Allen’s shoes will certainly not be done by one person. But if done by committee, Peters and his athleticism gives this Kentucky defense a fighting chance at having another dominant season.