A key reason why Mark Stoops and his staff have been able to turn around the Kentucky Wildcats football program has been the ability to rush the passer.
Josh Allen put together four stellar seasons under Stoops, including a Chuck Bednarik Award-winning senior year to become the program’s all-time leader in sacks.
Other players such as Calvin Taylor, Denzel Ware, Jamar “Boogie” Watson and Bud Dupree also put together stellar careers in the Stoops era and climbed UK’s all-time sack leader chart.
Heading into 2021, defensive coordinator Brad White believes Jordan Wright could be on his way to joining that group if he can stay healthy.
“When he’s healthy and his body feels good, he can be as dominant a player that’s on our team, White said in a Thursday Zoom Press Conference. He has difference making ability. He changed the momentum of the South Carolina game when he just took the ball out of the running back’s hands. He ended the Mississippi State game. It was like throwing in a closer at the end of the game, like it was over when he got the pick-six. He’s got that ability and he knows it’s about building mass and sturdiness with him and his frame because he’s so long and taking a lot of preventative stuff.”
Wright is entering his senior season but has two years of remaining eligibility thanks to last year’s NCAA blanket wavier. He has already made some key plays throughout his career, as White mentioned.
In 2019, he played in all 13 games for the Cats and recorded six tackles for loss, ranking third on the team, three sacks which ranked fourth and recovered a team-high two fumbles while also forcing one. He clinched Kentucky’s 2019 Belk Bowl victory over Virginia Tech by recovering a fumble and taking to the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown as time expired.
Last season, Wright made 45 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He forced three fumbles, recovered two and grabbed an interception that he returned for a touchdown in a win over Mississippi State that saw the Cats grab six interceptions as a team.
He was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his stellar performance in that Mississippi State game as in addition to the Pick-6, he recorded six tackles, a career-best two tackles for loss which included a sack and he also had a pass break up.