The recruiting momentum is starting to build for the University of Kentucky football program and now the second North Hardin Trojan joins the class of 2021. Jordan Lovett is a mid three-star recruit who recorded an incredible 15 interceptions while collecting 40 tackles last season. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, he figures to be a rangy free safety who can cover a lot of ground on the backend.
In the end, Kentucky beat out Missouri in addition to Boston College, Louisville, Georgia Tech and a few others for his services. Lovett is now the ninth member of the class and third in-state prospect to join the group. The tall safety brings some big time ball skills to the table.
Now it is time to take a step into the KSR Film Room and show just what kind of player Steve Clinkscale and Frank Buffano will be adding to their secondary unit. Recording interceptions frequently has been somewhat of an issue for the defense and Lovett has the ability to turn pass break-ups into picks.
When you first find out that Lovett recorded 15 interceptions in a single-season at the high school level, you immediately expect to see plenty of those plays when you turn on the tape. It doesn’t take long to find them. Most come from him playing centerfield and showing some really, really good instincts by flowing to where the football ends up. However, the range is what should get you excited.
Lovett shows some terrific range of motion by using a full body position to high point the football. This results in a big play and you see him doing things just like this all over his tape. It’s not real clear what type of top-end speed he has, but he knows where to go and finishes plays when he gets there.
If the football is in the air, he has a very good chance to come down with it.
The interceptions are flashy and they get people excited, but there is more to the safety position than just catching passes. With spread offenses and Air Raid concepts here to stay in the SEC, safeties are starting to become one of the most important positions on the field. You need these players to play coverage, but also be willing to stick their nose into high flying traffic to help defend the run.
Going against a buck sweep out of a Wing-T formation, Lovett does a good job of recognizing and tracking. He isn’t fooled by the wonky misdirections Wing-T offenses can provide and does a good job of getting to the football. He doesn’t overpursue and uses the sideline as a 12th defender to produce a stop on a minimal gain. He trusts his teammates to do their jobs and finishes the play by doing his.
Speed is such an important trait when you’re playing in the secondary and you have to be able to make open windows close up very fast. This requires some football IQ to recognize plays, but also the ability to cover ground and eliminate space.
Here you see Lovett diagnose the play and get downhill in a hurry. The deep safety beats the linebackers to the point of attack and essentially covers 15-plus yards and records a tackle before the back can pickup five yards. That is what you need from a really good safety.
When evaluating the tape, it doesn’t take long to figure out Jordan Lovett’s next position. He is a cover safety who will be at his best dropping into a zone and using instincts combined with top flight ball skills to be a very good pass defender. Last year we saw UK use Yusuf Corker as a force player from his free safety position and this essentially meant bringing him running downhill to help with run fits. Lovett has shown some proof that he could potentially develop that skill set.
At 6-foot-2, the rangy athlete should easily be able to play at top speed in the 210-215 pounds range and he’s bringing some really nice traits to Lexington. The ball skills are big time and the instincts he plays with should translate well to the next level. You would like to see more pop from him as a tackler, but that could come once he’s put into a big time strength and conditioning program.