The moment Kash Daniel has been waiting for is finally here, and he’s working overtime to make the most of the opportunity.
The Kentucky defense only lost two starters off the 2017 squad, but one was a pretty important. Courtney Love was a two-year team captain who called the defense from the middle linebacker position. Last year Love had 92 tackles, the second-most on the Kentucky defense. Tasked to replace a leader, so far the Paintsville native has passed the test with flying colors.
“He’s becoming the vocal leader of the defense, which he should be, and he’s taking it to heart,” Josh Allen said at SEC Media Days. “Kash is unbelievable. He’s learned so much and he’s gained so much confidence out there. He’s more comfortable. He can move better. He’s doing a lot of stuff that we need.”
A U.S. Army All-American and Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 2015, Daniel enrolled early with high expectations. Primarily a special teams player in a reserve role behind Love, Daniel never rested on his high school accolades. Few have worked harder since he arrived on campus.
“Kash is a worker. He’s had a great spring and a great summer. In fact, sometimes you have to slow him down, whether it’s through training or film study,” defensive coordinator Matt House said earlier this week.
“You gotta be careful that he doesn’t overtrain because he’s such a hard worker. He’s a guy that wants to be great and believes that it comes through hard work, which is a great trait to have, but at times you have to say, ‘whoa.'”
No matter how much work Daniel has put in the film and weight rooms, it can’t replicate what it takes to play every snap in the middle of an SEC defense. Luckily, his mentor isn’t going anywhere. Love will be on Kentucky’s coaching staff this fall as a graduate assistant in the linebackers’ meeting room. House believes Love’s input will be invaluable.
“Him and Kash have a great relationship. The one thing Courtney can do, is he’s been there through the ups and downs, so he gives him a voice to hear that’s a little different than a coach. I’m certainly very fortunate that Courtney chose to come on and be a graduate assistant with us.”
Kash Daniel has all of the tools to become an excellent SEC linebacker. He’s put in the work to be a successful leader of Kentucky’s defense. We’ll see on September 1 if he can put all of the pieces together.
“He’s done a good job of preparing himself,” House said. “He’s a guy that really for two and a half years he’s been here, and worked to the point where he’s ready for that role.”