Denzil Ware stunned everyone a few hours ago when he announced he is transferring from Kentucky. The star outside linebacker graduates this weekend and will be able to play immediately at the school of his choice.
“It was a very tough decision to make,” Ware wrote on social media. “I want to thank Coach Stoops and all the other coaches for everything they’ve done for me. Thank you, #BBN for all the support over these last three years. To my teammates, y’all are my brothers. I’ll always bleed blue. Go Cats.”
Ware played in 12 games last year, finishing with 47 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. He was suspended for the Music City Bowl for an unspecified violation of team rules (which probably stemmed from the trashcan throwing incident vs. Louisville), but tweeted in January he would return for his senior season and participated in spring practice.
What does this mean for Kentucky and Mark Stoops? Let’s talk it over.
One returning star is gone
One of the bright spots going into next season was experience, especially on defense. Over three years at Kentucky, Ware started 30 games and recorded 156 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. Last year, Ware was second to only Josh Allen in tackles for loss and sacks. Kentucky still has Allen, Mike Edwards, and Jordan Jones back on defense, but losing Ware is a major, unexpected blow.
Will Joshua Paschal take his spot?
Allen and Ware dubbed themselves the “Blitz Brothers” last season and were a formidable duo. With Ware gone, Joshua Pashcal is the obvious choice to fill the void. Paschal played defensive end this spring, but Drew Franklin thinks he’s the perfect man for Ware’s job:
Instead of moving Paschal, Stoops could open Ware’s spot up to Boogie Watson, Kengera Daniel, or redshirt freshman Jordan Wright. Thankfully, there are options, but these are major questions we didn’t anticipate asking a few weeks back.
Are top players transferring becoming a trend?
This is the second year in a row a starter has left the program as a grad transfer. Last year, wide receiver Jeff Badet — Ware’s former roommate — left Kentucky for Oklahoma and ended up signing with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent. Was the allure of winning big elsewhere enough for Ware to give up a starting spot in the SEC or was he simply ready to cut ties after a messy end to his junior season?
We’ll probably never know for sure, but senior stars leaving definitely doesn’t need to become a trend.