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By LARRY VAUGHT

Kentucky’s secondary will have three true freshmen and one player who left the team for personal reasons last season at the backup spots for the four starters for the season-opening game at Louisville Saturday.

I asked UK coach Joker Phillips today to evaluate the strength of those backup players today since he had not talked about the true freshmen during the preseason. Here’s what he had to say:

“Daron Blaylock is the number two guy at safety.  He’s a guy that’s really smart, really physical.  He was a guy we originally penciled in when we signed him to be a Sam back, the hybrid guy. He’s more athletic than we thought.  Smart kid.  Comes from a really good background at Walton High School in Marietta (Ga.).  So we moved him to safety.  We actually had to do it one day when we had a bunch of safeties out. You come out of the lineup, somebody goes in.  This guy goes in, was able to get lined up, was able to come down here and make plays for us.  Therefore, he will be the backup,” Phillips said.

“Fred Tiller is another guy.  I won’t talk about these guys until they play, but he’s a guy that is a really smooth athlete, he’s long.  He looks lean, but he’s thicker than he looks.  He doesn’t look like a fifth‑year senior.  Sixth‑year senior, Trevard Lindley, he’s even thicker than him.  He’s a guy that got into our two‑deep.

“Dakotah Tyler, he was really battling for the starting position with Mikie Benton.  I think a lot that hurt him, he wasn’t here in the spring and missed a lot of reps.  But he’s a guy that’s capable of being a starter before the season is over.  Excited about getting him back.

“J.D. Harmon, he was originally a receiver.  Our strength and conditioning coaches saw him this summer, saw his athletic ability.  When we get down in numbers at the corner position, the one guy that we thought could go over there and line up would be J.D. He’s done an unbelievable job.  He’s a real physical guy.  He’s a real long guy.  Stronger than most freshmen that come in here in the secondary.  Therefore, he’ll be one of the backup corners also.  Be probably our first guy to go in in our nickel situation.  I’m not saying he’ll play nickel, but he’ll be the fifth to go in the game.”

3 Responses to Phillips offers evaluations of secondary backup players Blaylock, Tiller, Harmon and Tyler

  • Tana says:

    Thanks for another fine piece on Kentucky football, Larry. Too, I’m glad to hear these comments about Daron Blaylock (one of Mookie Blaylock’s twin sons, of course). Joker says Daron is “really smart” and “really physical.” You already know, of course, that he’s a really impressive young man, too — personable and very polite. Daron (and his twin, too, actually) had been one of my favorite freshmen at our women’s clinic — although, goodness, so many had been really nice guys. It’s so easy to pull hard for youngsters like these, isn’t it! Too, I’m pulling for all of them with all my heart.

    P.S. I’m really anxious to see J.D. Harmon on the field, too — a fellow Paducah Tilghman alumnus, along with the very personable Josh Forrest. GO CATS! BEAT THOSE CARDS!

  • Mike Flannery says:

    In the game last year there were three “perfect” long passes converted by Louisville that were crucial to them getting the lead. Hopefully, the “D” line and linebackers came exert some pressure to assist the backfield this year. We are young but I think we have a real shot at winning this game. Obviously, we cannot have any turnovers by the offense or special teams. Bo Big Blue!

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