By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Kentucky all-SEC defensive back Van Hiles wasn’t surprised when sophomore Kelvin Joseph decided to transfer from LSU because of the talent in the LSU secondary. However, he was a bit surprised when Joseph, a top 40 players in the 2018 recruiting class, made a decision to transfer to UK so quickly.
“Seems like he had an eye out for us from the beginning,” Hiles, who lives in Louisiana, said.
Joseph was suspended for a violation of team rules in the Fiesta Bowl because of a violation of team rules but he played in 11 games for LSU last season. He was a U.S. Army All-American and had 113 tackles as a senior and 67 as a junior when his team won a state championship. He returned a combined 13 kicks, punts and interceptions for touchdowns in his high school career and has been timed in under 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
“His abilities are off the charts. He played high school football in a very competitive district (in Baton Rouge) and was a standout. He’s long and physical at the line of scrimmage. Needs to improve on technique, which is something our coaches are very good at developing,” Hiles, who played in 16 games with the Chicago Bears in 1997, said. “Has a high ceiling. He’s a big get for the program.”
Joseph will sit out this season as a transfer and then have three years of eligibility left. Hiles thinks the timing is perfect for him and UK.
“Gives him time to get acclimated to the surroundings and the coaching style plus it will help academically, too,” Hiles said.
The former UK standout believes Joseph’s transfer says volumes about what coach Mark Stoops has done for the UK football program.
“This says we are on the radar of the top athletes. We have proven it with the 2020 (recruiting) class and prior classes,” Hiles said. “Stoops/Marrow have done an incredible job of not only finding quality teaching coaches but also quality recruiters whom are able to connect with the current high school athlete.”
Included in the 2019 recruiting class was Louisiana quarterback Amani Gilmore, a player Hiles thought could turn into a “steal” for UK based on his talent.
Could adding Joseph to the roster now, too, have an impact on Kentucky being able to recruit more in Louisiana?
“Not really but it doesn’t hurt to have someone from your state that you will naturally gravitate to because of that connection,” Hiles said.