After losing more than a dozen senior contributors, many of which started for multiple seasons, Mark Stoops is replenishing his coffers with players you may not know well. If you don’t, you will after reading this preseason training camp series on KSR. First up, cornerback Cedrick Dort.
After fielding enormous cornerbacks for three years, Stoops is working with something a little different on the boundary when No. 27 enters the starting lineup. Standing at 5-11, redshirt sophomore Cedrick Dort does not believe he needs size to have an advantage on the competition.
“Guys my height, the hips and feet are more dominant than those taller guys. With quicker receivers it helps me be more patient because I’ve got good feet and good hips,” Dort said. “A lot of tall guys just don’t have that. It’s one of the keys to my game. I really appreciate my size.”
A former three-star recruit from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Dort was the next cornerback up in 2018 as the Cats’ dime. Instead of receiving his first significant reps, a nagging high ankle sprain forced him to redshirt. Even though he was stuck on the sideline, his predecessors made sure he knew what it would take to be a leader in the secondary.
“They prepared me since my freshman year by taking me under their wing. Anytime they saw me down, they cheered me up. Anytime they saw me frustrated, they let me know what they were seeing. They always kept my hopes up, they always kept my confidence up. I really appreciate Chris (Westry), Derrick (Baity), Lonnie, Mike (Edwards) and D-West because they really prepared me for a moment like this. I always knew a time like this was going to come…it’s going smooth right now.”
The greatest challenge so far for Dort is being a more vocal leader. Typically, that’s not a problem for SoFlo kids. Dort and Josh Ali, the wide receiver he battles daily, are two South Florida kids that are exceptions to that norm.
“Me and Josh Ali go at it. We’ve been going at it since we were freshman though. Now we’re on the big stage, getting opportunities to really show people what we’ve got.”
Each year the football team gets one month to get away and do whatever they want. This year, Dort and Ali stayed on campus in the month of May. Dort packed on 15 pounds of muscle in that month. He plans on putting it to good use in the first scrimmage of the preseason.
“I really want to work on my tackling. I want to be a better tackler this Saturday. I want to be a more vocal leader. That’s my main focus. I want to keep the defense uplifted when we hit adversity because you’re always going to need that throughout the season.”
Handling adversity will be the most difficult challenge for the cornerback who is not battle-tested. In a long game, even the best corners get beat from time to time. How a corner responds separates the best from the rest. Many believe UK’s secondary will suffer this season. Dort begs to differ.
“I’ve always been the type of person to accept challenges. It’s just a chance to prove yourself, to prove everybody wrong.”