By LARRY VAUGHT
Losing safety Darius West to a season-ending knee injury hurts Kentucky’s defense. But UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot always was hurting Saturday for West.
“It is extremely tough for the kid. You really feel for him with the injuries he’s had already in his career and how hard he’s fought through to bounce back, how much better of a player he had become even from last year to this year and the effort and enthusiasm and tenacity that Darius put into the game and practice,” Eliot said Saturday.
“It’s disappointing that he’s not going to be able to reap the rewards this year. I still think Darius has a bright future. He’s already bounced back twice and he bounced back pretty good. I anticipate him to put his nose down and go to work and rehab and come back the type of player that we all know he can be and have an excellent career here when he finishes.”
West injured his knee in practice Friday, an injury that coach Mark Stoops said was a blow to his defense.
“For us at safety, losing Darius is gonna hurt us because he brought a tenacity and a leadership to that position,” Eliot said. “But we also have some pretty players at that spot. Marcus McWilson, Blake McClain, we’ve got some guys — Mike’s (Edwards) obviously in that spot so we have some guys to work with.”