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Kentucky’s Brad White listed among top 20 head-coaching candidates

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White looks like a rising star in the profession.

UK Athletics

With all the preseason hype surrounding this year’s Kentucky’s defense, all eyes are sure to be on defensive coordinator Brad White, who has quickly emerged as a rising star in coaching circles after just one full season leading the Wildcats defense.

In his first season as defensive coordinator, White’s 2019 group ranked 13th in scoring defense and 21st in total defense as Kentucky finished 8-5 overall, winning the Belk Bowl with a 37-30 victory over Virginia Tech. The Wildcats did not allow more than 30 points in any regular season game for the first time since 1979.

With several starters returning on defense, the Wildcats are projected to be one of the top defensive units in the SEC, thus putting White in the spotlight as a popular “head coach in waiting,” according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, who recently released his Top 20 list of assistants who are on the fast track to become head coaches.

White, now in his third season at Kentucky, made the list at No. 20, with Missouri defensive coordinator Ryan Walters (17), Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham (14), Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning (10), Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken (7), Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko (4),and Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian (3) also mentioned as potential head coaches.

White joined the UK staff in 2018 to coach outside linebackers and was elevated to defensive coordinator after Matt House resigned to join the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs as the inside linebackers Coach in February of 2019. In January, Head Coach Mark Stoops extended White’s contract through 2022.

Prior to coming to UK, White spent six years as a defensive coach with the Indianapolis Colts and has also worked at Air Force, Murray State and Wake Forest, where he began his coaching career as a Graduate Assistant after starting 34 games at linebacker for the Demon Deacons, finishing his career with 227 tackles.

White’s 2020 Wildcat defense will be anchored by Boogie Watson, DeAndre Square and Jamin Davis (linebackers), Josh Paschal (defensive end), Quinton Bohanna (nose guard), Brandon Echols (cornerback) and Yusuf Corker (safety).

Most importantly, Kentucky’s offense, led by quarterback Terry Wilson, running back AJ Rose and the Big Blue Wall (Drake Jackson, Landon Young, Darian Kinnard and Luke Fortner) has pushed the defense, both physically and mentally, with a loaded SEC-only schedule in 2020 that includes a road trip to Alabama on November 21st.

“I think we’ve had some really good heavyweight battles out there” said White of facing Terry Wilson and company each day in practice. “It just makes us better and you know, it forces us to show up every day and compete and our guys know that if they don’t show up they’re going to get beat and that’s what the SEC is all about. You can play a great game one week and come back the next week and get smoked so it’s about consistency of effort, of focus, and intentionality in terms of what you’re doing, (and) what you’re trying to get done in terms of an execution standpoint.”

Kentucky, raked No. 23 in the AP Poll, opens the 10-game SEC schedule on September 26th at No. 8 Auburn.