By LARRY VAUGHT
Freshman linebacker Kash Daniel is making a good impression during his first spring practice at Kentucky.
“Kash is very mature. He’s learning quickly for someone who is supposed to be a high school senior,” said defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot after Saturday’s scrimmage.
Daniel graduated from Paintsville High School in December so he could enroll early at UK. He was the state’s Mr. Football, Gatorade Player of the Year and Paul Hornung Award winner.
“I’m gonna do whatever I gotta do to contribute. Whatever coach (Mark) Stoops asks me to do, that’s what I’m here for. If they want me to play special teams, I’ll play special teams. If they want me to fill the water jug up, I’ll fill up the water jug up,” Daniel said. “It doesn’t matter what it is — I’m just out here to compete with my new teammates.”
He’s had to adjust to more than just practice routines.
“In high school you do everything for yourself. In college I come in here and I have a locker. I have my own clothes that are washed. You go in there to change and take them off and they have them back. We are pretty pampered around here,” he said.
“It’s good because of how hard we go in the weight room and work. That fast of a pace, heavy weight really takes a load on your body. Trust me, the first week I was like a penguin walking around campus I was so sore.”
Eliot says Daniel is learning quickly on the field.
“But he also has the physical tools to be a good college linebacker. There’s not a need to develop so much physically, so he’s ready to go physically, and he has the maturity. He just needs the reps and continue to get better,” Eliot said.
Daniel has said since he committed to UK that if Stoops and Eliot decided he needed to be redshirted, that would be fine with him. He’s just happy to be at Kentucky.
“The first part of my senior year I kind of annoyed people. People got mad at me saying I can’t wait to get to Kentucky,” Daniel said. “Not saying I wanted to leave eastern Kentucky, but just I had done this in high school and was ready to move on and set new goals here at Kentucky.”
That suits Stoops.
“I think Kash is certainly a guy that’s showing up, getting better. He’s got a long way to go, the game moves fast to him, but for a guy, as you know he should be in high school right now …,” Stoops said Saturday.
Should be, but Stoops and Eliot certainly are making it clear they are happy to have him at Kentucky right now.