Rick Minter, in his second year as Kentucky’s defensive coordinator, said Monday that after three practices it’s too early to judge his true freshmen. He did single out a couple of true freshmen in Poncho Thomas and Khalid Henderson, however, saying they both appear to be the type of players he wants on his defense.
Here are Minter’s comments after today’s practice and a video clip.
On Bud Dupree: “He played enough last year, got his feet wet, played all during spring, he’ll be our guy. As long as he’s healthy, he’s our rush linebacker. He’s pretty special. He’s pretty sharp guy mentally, high character guy. He’s a worker, so therefore he’s a leader. Guys follow him. We’re glad we’ve got him.”
On expectations for Dupree: “I think he’ll end up setting his own standard. We don’t really have a true reputation at that spot yet, which we will develop with him as time goes on. He’s a natural hybrid who does a lot of jobs for us. Right now we’re very pleased with his progress.”
On Miles Simpson having already experienced Winston Guy’s spot: “Well, we’re further along than we were three days into camp last year. So Miles is a beneficiary of that thinking also. Having now entered his second year, last year a backup, in the spring, and now as a starter, being pushed a little bit by Josh Forrest. Winston was a DB truly at heart, moving down trying to find a way. Miles is more of a linebacker type that’s got to learn to play in space, which he’s doing a good, solid job of right now.
“We’re happy with the guys lined up at Sam backer right now. It’s the Sam and the Will that really set our standard last year for tackles, production, play-making, energy, effort, athleticism, ability, seniority. So it’s unfair to judge any of those guys right now. Miles is 19, 20 years old, second-year player basically, same with Josh Forrest. Never played before. So it’s a young group, but we feel good about the potential of the position.”
On his defensive line: “That’s got to be a strength of ours, anchored by those three returning guys. then of course the guys that are filtering in that are going to make impacts. We just have a lot more quality and depth right there than we had a year ago. We didn’t really lose anybody at all who had significant playing time. We’re bigger, better, faster, stronger, more knowledgeable. David Turner coaching the system a second year, that’s a huge impact for anybody playing. We’ll be anchored by those guys up front and the good news is we’ve got guys coming behind them that can spell them, give them a blog, give them a rest and (bring) the competition level up a little bit. So I’m pretty pleased with the front right now.”
On true freshmen: “It’s way early to single out anybody. The guys I was interested in seeing their progress, more than the corner of eye but real close is the two inside backers of (Pancho) Thomas and (Khalid) Henderson. They both have the makings of what we look for here. They’re freshmen, a long way away but I like what I see. The younger DBs are going to be good players.”
On Henderson: “He’s got good solid size. He’s got range, got instincts. He’s going to be a pretty smart guy and that always helps in what we’re doing so as time goes on — and it’s way, way early because of our learning curve — he could get in the mix.”