Other than the quarterback, if there’s one player that UK can’t afford to lose this season, who would it be? ESPN’s Greg Ostendorf says defensive end Bud Dupree, the UK player with the most preseason honors:
Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE, Jr.
It will be interesting to see how Dupree transitions from linebacker to end this fall, but regardless of position, he’s the best player on this UK defense. And there’s no doubt it will be a defense that new head coach Mark Stoops will count on to keep them in games. As a sophomore, Dupree emerged as one of the SEC’s top pass-rushers, finishing with 91 tackles and seven sacks. This fall, he’ll also serve as a mentor to newcomers Za’Darius Smith, a junior college transfer, and Jason Hatcher.
Dupree is the obvious answer, but Avery Williamson has to be up there too. So far, Stoops and Eliot say Williamson is “light years” beyond the other linebackers, and he’s established himself as a team leader. This group needs strong senior leadership, and Avery is more fired up than anyone to get out and shed UK’s “SEC cellar dweller” image.