When newly committed JUCO cornerback Nate Willis tweeted that he would be attending Kentucky, he immediately bolstered the Wildcats secondary to a new height. Willis is a talented, physical, speedy DB, who won’t have a problem covering the opposing team’s best receiver. That type of skill-set, in today’s game of high-powered spread offenses, is beyond coveted and is a huge get for head coach Mark Stoops. Following his tweet that he would be continuing his college career in Lexington, Willis added that the Wildcats’ secondary would be a “no fly zone”, meaning that it would be very tough to complete any passes on the Wildcats’ new secondary. Looking at it closer, Willis may be on to something.
Last year, despite a national ranking of 54th in pass defense, Kentucky wasn’t particularly good defending the pass. A lot of the struggles came when starters got injured and the Wildcats had to rely on second-teamers. It forced a team that wasn’t very deep to begin with, to rely on depth, which proved to be disastrous. A lot of freshmen, true and redshirt, were forced into heavy action for the remainder of the year, and although they gave their best efforts, were no match for the experienced wide receivers of SEC conference play.
A year and scheme change later, the Wildcats look to have a much better play at the cornerback position in 2013. Young freshman (Cody Quinn [above], Fred Tiller, J.D. Harmon) who unexpectedly found themselves in a big role in 2012, now have in-game experience and a familiarity with the conference landscape at their disposal. Add in Willis and 4-star recruit Jaleel Hytchye and you have a pretty formidable group that is as deep as it has been in recent years. Not to mention the are couple of talented recruits still making final decisions on where to attend college that are still considering Kentucky.
Of course it’ll take sometime for the new group to figure out how to play football the way Stoops wants them to. On paper, though, this group looks like one of the better crops we’ve had at Commonwealth Stadium in a while. As far as a “no fly zone”, we’ll have to wait until Willis gets on campus to explain what he means.