The 2018 Kentucky Wildcats football team will be talked about for years to come.
To win 10 games, break the losing streak to Florida, and beat Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, it took a monumental effort from many all-time greats to leave an incredible legacy.
So how do you replace legends? According to Kash Daniel, you become one.
- Position: Linebacker
- Measurements: 6’1”, 221 lbs.
- Hometown: Paintsville, KY
- School: Paintsville High School
- Recruit Rankings: No. 12 inside linebacker in 2016
Kash Daniel was born to play football or Kentucky. Or maybe to be a professional wrestler. He has the perfect frame and quickness to be an elite inside linebacker, and the swagger to lead a team to be the best version of themselves.
Daniel has seen the field in every single game that he has been at Kentucky. Mostly playing special teams as a freshman, he worked his way into a starting role his junior year. The only game he did not start last season was due to a targeting suspension.
Daniel was third on the team with 84 tackles last season, 7.5 of which were for a loss. He had a career-high 11 tackles in Kentucky’s opener against Central Michigan last year, and he repeated that effort the following week in the Wildcats’ historic victory over Florida in Gainesville.
With Josh Allen, Jordan Jones, and the majority of the secondary gone from last year’s squad, most people assume that the backbone of last season’s team, the defense, is destined to take a large step back. Daniel is not buying that at all.
“This ball club could be as good, if not better, than last year’s team,” Daniel said at SEC Media Days. “Just because we lost a lot of talented guys doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of talented guys in the back that are gonna step up. Like I’ve said to so many people, Coach Stoops, he’s not gonna offer people to come here and sit on the bench and just get free gear, walk around campus and go to school. He’s not doing that. He’s recruiting players right now to come in and take my job. He’s recruiting players right now to come take over for Josh Allen and Benny Snell.”
Those are certainly humongous shoes to fill. But one thing Kash Daniel has never done is back down from a challenge. Once again, Kentucky was predicted to finish last in the SEC East, just one year away from finishing second in the division. Daniel emphasized at SEC Media Days that Kentucky football is no flash in the pan, but a program still on the rise.
“The toughness and resilience you see out of this program, it’s not by a habit of luck,” he said. “It’s by a habit of work that we put in each and every day to get the best results possible out there on the field.”
Daniel will be joined in the linebacker corps this season by DeAndre Square, Chris Oates, and Boogie Watson. Quinton Bohanna will anchor the defensive line as the Kentucky coaching staff hopes that Josh Paschal can put a dent in the gap left behind of Josh Allen. It would certainly give the defense a boost if transfer Xavier Peters can get his eligibility waiver approved.
Regardless of who he is surrounded by, Kash Daniel will be the key to the success - or failure - of this Kentucky defensive unit. If his work ethic and play up to this point is any indication, Daniel will settle for nothing less than leaving this Kentucky program as a legend.