By LARRY VAUGHT
Having any Kentucky defensive back recognized on any preseason all-Southeastern Conference team is something that doesn’t happen annually.
However, for a Kentucky defensive back who has never played a down at UK to earn fourth-team honors on Phil Steele’s College Football Magazine is something I can never remember happening.
Yet that’s just what Kelvin Joseph has done. He played his freshman year at LSU, transferred to UK and sat out the 2019 season. The New Orleans native was a top 50 player in the 2018 recruiting class and a four-star recruit. He played in 11 games at LSU in 2018 and had 12 tackles and one pass breakup — it came in LSU’s win over No. 2 Georgia.
Remember that Kentucky’s 2019 secondary ranked second nationally in passing yards allowed with an average of 167.8 yards allowed per game. Still, Steele’s publication picked Joseph ahead of any returning UK defensive back.
To be good enough to play in the LSU secondary is impressive considering how the Tigers normally send several defensive backs per season to the NFL. Of course Joseph scored 13 touchdowns on kickoff returns, punt returns and interceptions in high school. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Game after having 113 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and three interceptions as a senior after having 67 tackles, 12 pass breakups and three interceptions as a junior when his team won the Class 5A state championship.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops called Joseph a “difference-maker” when he transferred and praised his physical play. He said the 6-1, 195-pound cornerback also had the instincts top cornerbacks have.
Obviously others believe the same without ever seeing him a play a down yet at UK.