By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky’s defense figured to have a drop this year after losing national player of the year Josh Allen and its five top secondary players off last year’s team. The Cats are giving up 24.5 points and 398 yards per game after four games.
However, junior college transfer Brandin Echols is one player who might have exceeded preseason expectations. The cornerback is second on the team with 25 tackles — he’s first in solo stops with 21 — and forced a fumble at Mississippi State last week. He also leads the team with three pass breakup.
Echols has made some big-time plays against Florida and Mississippi State but UK lost each time. He wants that trend to change at South Carolina Saturday night.
“Everybody is talking and everybody has their opinion about what should have happened (in the losses) but we can’t let that get in our heads like that. We have to keep pushing forward,” Echols said. “I know we can still be great. Got no doubts about that. We’ve shown the potential we have.”
He was a three-sport Mississippi high school star and his senior season he had 111 tackles, one interception, 29 catches for 406 yards and four scores, 906 yards and eight touchdowns rushing, and 604 return yards with four more touchdowns. He also won the state long jump championship. He had to attend junior college for academic reasons and switched from receiver to cornerback his freshman season, so this is only his third year playing in the secondary.
“We have just made some bad decisions that have taken a toll on us. We have to get better with our decision-making,” Echols said. “I don’t want to play the blame game because there is nobody in particular to blame for not winning. It’s on all of us and has to change.”