UK football

Injuries lead to more playing time for Kentucky football's Blaylock twins

jsmith3@herald-leader.comOctober 9, 2012 

Daron Blaylock, left, and Zack Blaylock answered questions at the team's media day on Aug. 3 at Commonwealth Stadium.

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When twins Zack and Daron Blaylock stand next to each other, there are subtle differences.

Zack is a touch shorter than his brother.

Daron has about 15 pounds on his brother.

But when they laugh, it's exactly the same.

The twin Kentucky safeties were all smiles as they met with the media on Tuesday before the Cats travel to Arkansas.

Because of UK's rash of defensive back injuries, Zack Blaylock's redshirt season ended last week against Mississippi State. His brother Daron has played in every game except the opener.

They seemed to be happy to be back on the field together for the first time since they left Walton (Ga.) High School last season.

"I feel comfortable when he's back there with me," Daron said. "He kind of helps me out, and I help him out."

That became evident on a play late in the game when Zack wrapped up a Bulldogs player and looked up only to realize that his brother had helped.

"Daron came and tackled him with me, and I thought, 'That's pretty neat,'" Zack said.

Coaches are hoping to see a lot more of that brotherly shove in the second half of this season.

"These two Blaylock kids, those guys, I'm excited to watch those guys play," Coach Joker Phillips said of the twin sons of former NBA standout Mookie Blaylock as well as Janelle and John Woods. "They come up and strike people. So you get excited to watch them play."

Depending on the Cats' injury situation, both players could end up being starters at safety this week.

On the latest depth chart, Daron is listed as an "or" with Ashely Lowery, who has been suffering from concussion-like symptoms. Zack is listed as the backup to senior Mikie Benton, who didn't practice Tuesday as he battled an ankle injury.

Defensive coordinator Rick Minter was asked if there was any kind of twin connection that helped them play well together. He laughed and played along.

"I hope there's some can carryover from their infancy years," Minter said. "Those are two great young kids. They're really going to be great football players; we hope it's by Saturday. They know how to play; they come from good stock."

Zack was a first-team All-State safety at Walton, intercepting 11 passes as a senior and returning five of those for touchdowns. In his first game for UK last week, he had four tackles in 23 snaps played against the Bulldogs.

Daron, who was originally expected to play the linebacker/safety hybrid position, was second-team All-State. In his five games this season, he has six tackles, including a career-best four against Kent State.

At one point in the Mississippi State game, linebacker Avery Williamson looked behind him and realized that the twins were back there and that there were freshmen at nearly every spot in the depleted UK secondary.

But the junior said he wasn't concerned.

"I feel confident in the twins back there," he said. "They'll really get it and they're good athletes."

Injuries hit Arkansas, too

Coach John L. Smith announced this week that the Razorbacks' top tackler, linebacker Alonzo Highsmith, is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury he suffered at Auburn. He will have surgery to repair ligament damage.

Highsmith had 54 tackles before the injury, four of which went for a loss, as well as two sacks and a fumble recovery.

■ Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson wasn't injured during a two-car collision along Interstate 540 on Tuesday, a school spokesman told The Associated Press. He was expected to be fine after being rear-ended in traffic and was supposed to practice later in the day.

Cats' secondary still out

None of Kentucky's injured safeties — Martavius Neloms (hamstring), Mikie Benton (ankle) and Ashely Lowery (concussion-like symptoms) — participated in practice on Tuesday, Minter said.

"We've got some (defensive backs) hurtin' on the back end, so we've got some young guys trying to step up and assume their roles," Minter said. "So we've got guys who are day to day, but whether that day comes, who knows?"

UK announces Dawson day

It will be Dermontti Dawson Day at Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 20 for the Cats' game with Georgia. The former UK star and recently enshrined Pro Football Hall of Famer will be honored during the game and the first 10,000 fans in the stadium will receive a rally towel. He will be signing autographs two hours before kickoff as well.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com

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