By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky had three players — defensive lineman Calvin Taylor (Pittsburgh Steelers), receiver Ahmad Wagner (Chicago Bears) and defensive lineman T.J. Carter (Arizona Cardinals) — each sign NFL free agent contracts over the weekend after they were passed over in the NFL draft after receiver/running back Lynn Bowden went in the third round and offensive lineman Logan Stenberg in the fourth round.
Does Kentucky coach Mark Stoops expect any other Cats to sign free agent deals? That’s what I asked him during a Zoom teleconference Monday.
“I would expect (linebacker) Kash (Daniel) to sign a free-agent contract. There’s been a few teams that were interested, so hopefully I expect Kash to sign,” Stoops said. “I’m not sure about any of the other guys out there, they could be. I haven’t heard much yet. There certainly could be some more.”
Many thought Daniel would quickly sign a free agent contract. He played in 51 games with 23 starts and had 168 career tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss, seven quarterback hurries, four pass breakups and one interception. He had four games with 10 or more tackles.
Stoops believes Bowden (Las Vegas) and Stenberg (Detroit) both went to teams where they can thrive. He’s just as optimistic about the trio that signed free agent deals already.
“I think they all have a great chance to make teams. They are very good football players who have overcome a lot already and I expect them to have a great opportunity,” Stoops said.
Stoops seemed especially high on Taylor, an all-SEC player his senior year, and his chances with the Steelers who already have former Cats Bud Dupree and Benny Snell on the roster.
“With Calvin going to Pittsburgh, I think that’s a great fit for him. Pittsburgh likes big guys like Bud. Big, strong, physically guys just like Benny. I think Calvin will fit in well with that organization. I did think he would be drafted late but that didn’t happen but maybe that’s a blessing in disguise,” Stoops said.
“Maybe the Steelers needed him and he’ll go there and do well. Calvin has done nothing but overachieve. Again, you know the story and where he comes from. We picked him up late because I saw his size, I saw his raw ability. If anything, he had an opportunity to be a tackle but he was starting to really come along with defensive tackle and we needed him.
“He was a mainstay for us the past couple of years and contributed quite a bit and with that length, it really helped us. Hopefully he’ll do the same with Pittsburgh.”