By LARRY VAUGHT
Minnesota transfer De’Niro Laster continues to be impressive with his play at linebacker during spring practice.
“He’s big enough and very fast off the edge, so that makes him a good outside linebacker. But he’s athletic enough to go inside and cover in space and play sideline to sideline as an inside linebacker,” UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said.
“So he has the skills to be successful at both. Some people don’t. Some people, I think their talents are more specific. They’re either just an inside linebacker or just and outside linebacker. I think that Laster has the skills to be successful at both.”
Here’s more of what Eliot had to say about Laster:
What will determine which spot he sticks at: “Well, our best 11 will play. We’ll put our best 11 on the field.”
Can he practice at either position and still play both: “No, you need reps at both. You definitely need reps at both, but some things you can catch on quicker than others and some things you need to rep. So wherever we decide is the best spot for him, we’ll get him caught up.”
How is it coaching Laster to use his hands rather than just rely on his physicality: “You never take the physicality out of it, but you want him to be physical in the right way. Anytime that a better player faces a worse player, the better player doesn’t have to use technique to win. As soon as you play somebody who is just as good as you then the technician is going to win. So it’s critical that every one of our players play with fundamentals and use technique. With De’Niro specifically, he had not played outside linebacker before. His entire career at Minnesota was inside, so some of those techniques are unique to that position. So we’re really working with him to become fundamentally sound at outside linebacker.”
How is Laster picking those fundamentals up: “Good. I’ve already seen improvements. I can remember day one there was some major mistakes and then day two and day three on the exact same play he played it correct.”