Kentucky’s 2018 defense features plenty of star-power. Josh Allen, Mike Edwards, Darius West and Derrick Baity have NFL futures, while Jordan Jones and Kash Daniel raise hell in the middle of the defense. Of all the big names on UK’s defense, the unit’s top performer from Saturday is someone you may have forgotten, Davonte Robinson.
“Davonte played very good. He was our player of the game on the defensive side of the ball here this week. He played a good football game,” Mark Stoops said at his weekly press conference.
Robinson had nine tackles against Georgia, second only behind Mike Edwards, and he added a tackle for loss. He played well even though he was a little out of his element. He spent most of the week preparing for Georgia as the nickel back in Kentucky’s medium package. When Darius West was ejected for targeting on the first drive of the second half, Robinson’s responsibilities changed.
“He stepped in the game and did some very good things,” Stoops said. “He fought through those pinch sets that I was talking about, shot through and made some tackles, was disruptive, made a very critical open-field tackle that was a very difficult tackle. He did some good things. I’m pleased.”
The targeting penalty will sideline West for the first half against Tennessee. Robinson’s play from Saturday gives Stoops no reason to worry.
“It’s very encouraging. Sometimes when opportunities like that surface — certainly we want Darius in there all the time, he’s a leader and plays extremely tough — but when opportunities like that arrive, it is interesting to see how those guy are going to step in and I anticipate that he’ll play very well.”
A four-star recruit from Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Kentucky, Robinson has spent the last three years learning behind UK’s experienced leaders in the secondary. This year the redshirt sophomore has seized the most from each opportunity. Filling Edwards and West’s large shoes in 2018 will not be easy, but Robinson appears to be up for the task.