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Tyrell Ajian must step up in UK’s reloaded secondary

The redshirt sophomore will hopefully fill a giant hole in the UK secondary.

Kentucky v Tennessee Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

Every season there are players that no one’s heard of that exceed all expectations. This year, one of those players will be Tyrell Ajian.

Most Kentucky fans have probably never heard of him, but be prepared. The Kentucky Wildcats lost a lot in the secondary and Ajian might be the most talented returning player.

Tyrell Ajian

  • Position: Safety
  • Class: Sophomore
  • Measurements: 6-0, 194 lbs.
  • Hometown: Mansfield, Ohio
  • School: Madison Comprehensive
  • Recruit Rankings: No. 293 nationally, No. 16 ATH via 247 Sports Composite Rankings

The former four-star athlete out of Ohio was a big time recruiting win for the Cats. Ajian held offers from the Michigan Wolverines, Michigan State Spartans, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish, among others.

Teams were fascinated by his ability to play all over the field, as he played defensive back, wide receiver and quarterback in high school. Recruiting analysts thought he’d be able to play in the slot, run the “Wildcat,” or join the secondary. His versatility was impressive.

The former U.S. Army All-American redshirted in 2017 before garnering slim playing time in 2018.

Ajian did play in all 13 games in his redshirt freshman season, totaling 10 tackles, three PBUs, and one interception. While he was played sparingly, the fact that he saw action in every game last season shows his long-term potential, as he was behind the likes of Mike Edwards, Davonte Robinson and Darius West on the depth chart.

Even though the big-time playmaker didn’t have a ton of opportunities to display his talent, he didn’t shy away from the big moment. His lone interception last season, as well as one of his PBUs, came in Kentucky’s 28-7 win over a ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs team.

With MSU threatening to tie the game early in the fourth quarter, his third-down pass breakup forced a punt. And on the very next possession, with the Bulldogs again threatening to tie the game, he intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards. His long return set up a touchdown run on the next play, giving UK a two-touchdown lead, effectively sealing the victory.

It is now Ajian’s time in the UK secondary. As one of only a couple guys in his position group to have real experience playing against SEC foes, the Cats will be leaning on him to help fill the void left by five departures in the defensive backfield.

Ajian certainly has the talent and hype to make a significant impact this season. And he’ll have the perfect opportunity back it up.