For the second time in a week, Kentucky has reeled in another recruit from the city of Louisville that will play in the front seven. After landing the services of hybrid defensive end/linebacker JJ Weaver, Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow picked up a pledge from a versatile linebacker today.
Jared Casey hails from Ballard High School in Louisville and is a 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker who can play inside or outside in UK’s 3-4 scheme. After committing to Oregon earlier this fall, the four-star prospect had a change of heart and made the call to stay close to home.
Just like we did with JJ Weaver last week, we’re going to take you into the film room and show you just what type of player UK is getting. In the front seven, you can never land too many blue-chip prospects and Jared Casey has the skillset to be a disruptive force in the future.
This past season at Ballard, Jared Casey was used in a multitude of spots for the Bruins but where he was most effective was playing on the edge. At Kentucky, Casey projects to the Sam outside linebacker position that is currently being played by Boogie Watson. At this spot, being an outside pass rusher is a nice threat but you need to be able to consistently set the edge.
When you see the “set the edge” term, it essentially means keeping outside leverage on the offense. Your job as an edge defender is to make sure a blocker or ball carrier is not able to get to the sideline. If you do you job, it should cause the play to turn up field and that’s where the rest of your defense will be to make a stop. Here is Jared Casey showing you some of that ability.
On this sprint out play, Jared Casey fights off two backs and slows down the play. He eliminates any threat for a quarterback run or for one of the backs to leak out for a dump off. Casey throttles down to make sure the quarterback cannot run. This causes the quarterback to gain unwanted depth. Once that happens, Casey bites and forces a pressure that results in an incompletion. Being able to make plays like this are essential for an outside linebacker.
Jared Casey, at times, looks like an SEC outside linebacker right now. He is excellent at fighting off blocks and has the athleticism to bring down mobile quarterbacks and running backs in space. However, he also has the versatility to play inside.
Here Ballard has Casey playing a traditional inside linebacker roll. The four-star prospect reads inside run, fills the gap, and makes a physical tackle. When he gets on campus, Kentucky is going to be able to play the multi-purpose linebacker both inside and outside.
In 2019, Kentucky will have some solid depth at linebacker. At Sam, Boogie Watson will be entering his redshirt junior season while Chris Oats is set to be a future star after backing up Kash Daniel for one more season. Add in junior college transfer Marquez Bembry at Sam and there will be plenty of time for Jared Casey to develop.
At this current moment, the four-star prospect is a bit of a tweener. He doesn’t have the seasoning required to be an effective Mike linebacker, but he has plenty of time to gain experience. Outside, his pass rushing arsenal is going to need work but he has plenty of time to work on technique.
Kentucky is getting a high ceiling linebacker who could play multiple positions depending on how his body and skill set develops once he gets to the college level. His athletic ability at his size and physicality of playing behind his pads on contact are some very valuable tools. Expect him to redshirt as a freshman, but it should not take him very long to impact the depth chart beginning in 2020. Kentucky landed a top shelf recruit that needs some coaching, but all four linebacker spots have been developed very well since Mark Stoops arrived.