Cornerback was one of the biggest questions for Kentucky football entering 2021. After one open practice, that position looks to be in good hands.
At the field cornerback spot, Cedrick Dort Jr. takes over for Brandin Echols and held his own on Saturday. The redshirt senior is a seasoned veteran who recorded a pass break-up in a one-on-one situation against Nebraska transfer Wan’Dale Robinson on an in-breaking route. Off the bench, Quandre Mosely will be a solid third cornerback as a super senior. However, it was the second-year boundary cornerback who stole the show.
Cincinnati Moeller product Carrington Valentine was the lowest-ranked recruit in the class of 2020 but is the first player from that haul to record a start. Heading into year two, expectations are high for the former low three-star recruit. The 200-pound redshirt freshman looked the part on Saturday afternoon at Kroger Field when the cornerback picked off Joey Gatewood and took it to the house.
Carrington Valentine intercepts a pass from Joey Gatewood. My favorite part of the play was Valentine’s finger wag after snagging the pass. pic.twitter.com/k7EHieI2C5
— Chris Leach (@ChrisLeach__) August 7, 2021
Heading into 2021, the Wildcats will be old on defense. Redshirt seniors Dort, Josh Paschal, Jordan Wright, Yusuf Corker, and Tyrell Ajian have locked down starting spots. Fellow redshirt senior Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald is competing for a spot at boundary defensive tackle. Super senior Davonte Robinson appears to be the guy at nickel. Fourth-year seniors Marquan McCall and DeAndre Square also have positions locked up at nose guard and Will linebacker. Defensive coordinator Brad White has a unit that is mature and experienced. However, younger players will need to come along quickly for the future health of the program. Mark Stoops liked what Valentine showed as a true freshman.
“The best quality that he has is his competitive nature,” Stoops said in November. “He is a competitive kid and I like that. He’s always working hard. He’s dialed-in. He takes things serious. Sometimes freshmen are just freshmen. It doesn’t sink in or they don’t take the coaching, the medicine the way you need to, but Carrington does. He does not waste a rep.”
Kentucky has questions to answer as training camp progresses, but cornerback did not appear to be one of them on Saturday. Valentine looks the part and could turn into the next star defensive back in the secondary.