After losing their top six defensive backs going into the 2019 season, the Kentucky Wildcats return all but one starter from last year’s secondary. Oh, and they return their top returning defensive back from 2018, who missed last season due to injury.
That’s the good news. The better news is that one of these returning DBs is Brandin Echols, who led an incredible secondary just a year ago. That group allowed just nine (9) touchdown passes all season long, which ranked No. 1 in the country, and they gave up just 168 passing yards per game, which ranked No. 2 in the country.
Echols was a big part of that success, and you’ll see why.
- Position: Defensive Back
- Class: Senior
- Measurements: 5-11, 175 lbs.
- Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee
- School: Southaven
- Recruit Rankings: No. 58 JUCO nationally, No. 7 JUCO CB via 247Sports JUCO Composite Rankings
Echols was not a highly sought-after recruit coming out of high school. This led him to Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he started as a wide receiver. However, it became clear once he switched to DB his freshman year that that’s all he needed to blow up.
Kentucky's Brandin Echols (@matayo_echols) and Georgia's Eric Stokes (@_jamane_) lead the way among returning SEC defensive backs, each allowing fewer than 5 yards per target in coverage in 2019. pic.twitter.com/GcCmKIAFR6— CFB Film Room (@CFBFilmRoom) May 1, 2020
After totaling 49 tackles, six interceptions (No. 2 nationally), 12 PBUs (No. 4 nationally), one forced fumble, and one blocked kick, Echols suddenly became a three-star JUCO recruit with offers from the Houston Cougars, Memphis Tigers, Minnesota Golden Gophers, and Ole Miss Rebels, among others.
The 5-11, 175-pound cornerback chose Kentucky, and he was a stud in his first year in Lexington. He started 11 of 13 games at corner, totaling 52 tackles, nine PBUs, two forced fumbles, two and a half TFL, and one sack.
#SEC Highest-graded returning CBs (min. 250 snaps)— Brent Rollins (@PFF_Brent) August 17, 2020
Derek Stingley Jr., LSU - 91.7
Kaiir Elam, UF - 87.8
Patrick Surtain II, Bama - 83.5
Eric Stokes, UGA - 81.4
Brandin Echols, UK - 78.0
Roger McCreary, Auburn - 78.0
Tyson Campbell, UGA - 76.4
Shawn Shamburger, UT - 74.3
Despite a slow start to the year, which included him not starting the first couple of games, Echols was nothing short of awesome during his junior season. Don’t let his small stature fool you, he is an incredibly gifted athlete who shut down some great athletes in the SEC.
5’11 180 ft 315lbs ♂️ ♂️ pic.twitter.com/j7rpMgmvR9— Brandin Echols (@matayo_echols) July 21, 2020
Oh, and he not only defends passes well, but he also loves to hit.
Echols has been tabbed to the Senior Bowl Watch list, and multiple Preseason All-SEC teams. And more importantly, he recently announced that he is having a baby girl, so look out for the dad strength this fall.
Looks can be deceiving, but make no mistake, Brandin Echols is here and he is going to be a star for the best secondary in the country in 2020.
Oh, and Echols just became a father.
Welcome home babygirl. Braylnn Alise Echols!!! August 21, 2020. 12:33 a.m. pic.twitter.com/RN3jvaaXAW— Brandin Echols (@matayo_echols) August 21, 2020