Corey Peters, a three-year starter at defensive tackle and now a senior and captain of the UK football team, may have been a little overshadowed earlier in his career.
All 6-foot-3, 295 pounds of him may have been overshadowed. Because in his sophomore and junior seasons, he had to start alongside Jeremy Jarmon and Myron Pryor, who took their combined 587 pounds to the NFL this year.
The double-teams those players drew in their careers gave Peters plenty of opportunities to make plays, he said. Now that theyâ€™re gone, he has a different kind of opportunity.
â€œPlaying defensive line, especially playing tackle, you only get to make so many plays,â€ Peters said. â€œYou only get a certain amount of opportunities, and you have to try and capitalize on all of them.â€
Peters has capitalized on his opportunities to the tune of four sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss on the season thus far, leading the team in both categories. He had four sacks all of last season, equaling his total after seven games.
Defensive coordinator Steve Brown said Peters has produced at a high level throughout his career, but tended to make quieter plays as Jarmon and Pryor grabbed headlines and made highlight reels.
â€œHeâ€™s now making the explosive plays that people are starting to see,â€ Brown said.
Brown took Peters aside before spring practice and told him there was no reason for him not to become a first-team All-Southeastern Conference selection in 2009. Peters was surprised by his coachâ€™s assesment, but no one else is surprised by anything Peters does anymore.
â€œIf anything, it surprises me when he actually does get blocked,â€ junior defensive tackle Ricky Lumpkin said. â€œYou never see Corey come out here and lose a pass rush.â€
For all his skills as a football player, Peters is just as valued as a leader by coaches and teammates. Those closest to him say he tends to be quiet in most situations, but everyone listens when he speaks. He leads mostly by example, but isnâ€™t afraid to speak up. Those traits are even more valuable since heâ€™s the only returning starter on the defensive line and one of the most experienced players on the defense. He prepares teammates before plays and has the ability to read opposing offenses as well as anyone.
â€œHeâ€™s kind of a quarterback on the defensive line,â€ Brown said.
But after the plays, Peters goes quiet again. He doesnâ€™t need to tell the offensive linemen he just beat that their quarterback is lying on the turf. He hit Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Cody Wells six times on Saturday in another dominating performance that has become commonplace for him this season.
â€œIâ€™m extremely confident in myself and my ability,â€ Peters said. â€œI feel like nobody can block meÂ one-on-one. Iâ€™ve always felt that way and this year Iâ€™ve just happened to get lucky and get some opportunities to make some plays.â€
Brooks confirms: No black jerseys for Saturday
UK head coach Rich Brooks told reporters Tuesday morning the Cats will not be sporting black alternate jerseys against Mississippi State.
â€œWe donâ€™t have black jerseys, folks,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re wearing our regular uniforms.â€
Fans are still encouraged to wear black to the game on Oct. 31.
Brooks was obviously perturbed by the topic, and said he didnâ€™t want to discuss it anymore.
â€œIâ€™m worried about Mississippi State, believe it or not,â€ Brooks said. â€œWeâ€™re playing a very good team and theyâ€™re going to come in and try to knock us off in our stadium.â€
SEC reprimands three coaches
The SEC has reprimanded three league football coaches for publicly criticizing officials earlier in the week.
Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen were all issued public reprimands this week for their comments.
The SECâ€™s policy states all coaches, players and support personnel are to refrain from publicly criticizing officials.
Kiffinâ€™s reprimand is his second this year. A third reprimand could lead to disciplinary action from the league, including suspension.