In his second season, first as a full-time starter, sophomore cornerback Derrick Baity has become one of Kentucky’s most important players on defense.
Playing with physicality on the edge, he has 30 tackles on the season and one tackle for loss, including a 7-tackle performance against Vanderbilt. Through the air, he has two interceptions (one that saved the game against NMSU), 4 pass break ups and 6 pass deflections.
Those numbers are good, but Pro Football Focus takes it one step further. The PFF family grades players’ individual performances. Today PFF named him as one of their most improved players in the nation, one of only three cornerbacks on the 18-man list.
Baity struggle in limited duty as a freshman last year, giving up a reception on 68.2 percent of this passes thrown into his coverage, but has shown a marked improvement in 2016. This year he has allowed a reception on 54.5 percent of targets, down almost 14 percent from a year ago. After failing to record a single interception or pass breakup last year, he has now recorded two interceptions and five pass breakups so far this year. Finally, his production at the position has increased, and after allowing an average of 1.53 yards per coverage snap in 2015, he has seen that drop to 1.16 in 2016. He might not be a top cornerback yet, but with such a big improvement in 2016, he’s on his way.
When I asked Baity if he thought he was one of the most improved players in the nation, he was at a loss for words. “I’m improved, but….I don’t know.”
He did reveal the key to his success this season after struggling in the first two games of the season. “I’m just doing my job. The first two games I was trying to do so much, I was blowing my job.”
Baity wasn’t the only one to receive love from PFF. Nick Haynes’s performance against Missouri was the second-highest rated game from an offensive guard last week at 88.2, allowing zero QB pressures on 23 attempts.