Daniel working to be a leader for football team


Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel celebrates with his team after converting on a fake punt during the game against Missouri Saturday, October 7, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 40-34.

Proving to be a talented football player is one of the best methods of earning more playing time, but there are other ways to get noticed by coaches.

One of those methods is accepting a leadership role, something that junior inside linebacker Kash Daniel is trying to do and that all defensive units need.

“I think that if you’re a defensive player, especially as a linebacker, especially as an inside linebacker, that a leadership role is needed, especially in your MIKE-backer, that’s your voice of your defense,” Daniel said. “I’m willing to step up in that role and take on any leadership role that they throw at me.”

Daniel certainly has the talent to be a good defensive contributor; he just hasn’t had the opportunity to prove himself yet.

In his two seasons at UK, Daniel has accumulated 26 tackles, more than 25 percent of which came from one game against Austin Peay during his freshman year.

Daniel has mostly spent time playing on special teams due to better players being in front of him. Courtney Love has been one of the starting inside linebackers and captains each of the last two seasons, not giving Daniel much of an opportunity to see the playing field.

With 10 of the 11 starters from last season’s defense returning for 2018, there isn’t much room to squeeze in Daniel for some extra playing time. However, the one position that needs filled is the spot that Love is leaving behind, giving Daniel the chance to see the field.

“For me, it’s kind of like saying ‘It’s my time,’” Daniel said. “My time is here and I’m not going to let it slip through my fingers.”

If Daniel wants to take full advantage of the opening on defense, stepping into a leadership role would be a big boost to his playing time hopes, and the defense as a whole. Many talented members of last year’s defense, such as Mike Edwards and Josh Allen, are returning for their senior seasons, but none of them have the leadership qualities that Love had.

A defense can be talented but unproductive if it’s missing that leadership voice. While it will be hard for Daniel to step into that role due to his lack of playing time, it could be a big addition to a defense that already has a lot of positive things going for it.

Aside from being a leader, Daniel wants to be a contributor on defense by more than doubling his tackling count next season. Daniel already believes he can do that; he’s just got to fine tune his skills before kickoff approaches on Sept. 1.

“I feel like I got the big things down, just shine up some of the little mistakes here and there and get ready to play ball,” Daniel said.