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By LARRY VAUGHT
LEXINGTON — Joker Phillips says sophomore linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree is as “physically gifted” a player as he has been around during his coaching career — one reason the UK coach is counting on him to be a huge playmaker for the Cats this season.
“I’ve been around some very talented players at that position. He’s as gifted as anyone. We deem him one of our leaders that does things the right way. That understands the commitment level and dedication level that you have to have to play this game at a high level,” Phillips said Friday during UK’s Media Day.
“Again, this time last year we’re trying to convince him that the best thing for him would be moving to a linebacker, moving to defense. He wasn’t really sure about it. This summer he came up to me and said, ‘Coach, this is the best thing that’s happened to me.’
“This has allowed Bud Dupree to be one of the most premium guys in the league, from their athleticism, from a guy that has physical talents. He runs, he jumps, he’s really, really smart and understands when you saw the last game of the season last year, we rushed him from the outside, we lined him up as inside linebacker, and he rushed the passer. We lined him up as an inside linebacker, and he dropped.
“Because of his intelligence level allows us to move him around. When you can move a guy around with that kind of talent, you can’t account for him. We see that a lot. This guy lines up on our left side, so we have to have our back over for our protection towards him. You can’t account for a guy like Bud Dupree, because you don’t know where he’s going to lineup at. The reason he’s able to lineup a number of positions is because he’s so smart. He understands all the different packages.”