Brandin Echols was a the pleasant surprise on Kentucky’s 2019 defense. We didn’t even see him at his best.
The junior college transfer from Southaven, Mississippi set the edge at cornerback. Exceptional in run support, he recorded 54 tackles, the fourth-most on the team. He also had a sack, 2.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. In the passing game he broke up nine passes, good enough to finish in the top ten in the SEC. Despite the impressive numbers, Echols feels he was nowhere near his best.
“Last year I was playing to survive, just to get on the field and show that I could do a little bit. But I was really playing scared, I can say through my own eyes. I was playing scared last year,” Echols told KSR last week. “This year I gained full confidence and I’m ready to take the season.”
Echols wasn’t scared of the SEC’s big stage. He wasn’t scared to hit anybody. Echols just didn’t feel like he was comfortable enough to play with unrelenting tenacity.
“I wasn’t going out there relaxed like I wanted to be. I wasn’t going out there with the confidence that I needed to have. It took a minute for me just to get really in tuned with the game,” he said.
He may have felt timid, but he did not look timid when he made a nasty hit that forced the ball free on the final play of the Belk Bowl. Jordan Wright scooped up the loose ball and ran to the end zone to end the season.
Echols’ play put him on the radar of NFL scouts. One of five Wildcats on the Senior Bowl’s preseason top 250 watch list, he’s in a position to play his way into the NFL Draft. Echols is grateful that despite the coronavirus pandemic, he gets one more opportunity to make his dreams come true.
“I really need this extra year to show what I can do. Last year I played decent, but I didn’t play to my full potential. This year I can show who I really am.”