It's hard to miss Mike Edwards with the shock of blond hair on top of his head.
It's his way of paying homage to Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu, the former Louisiana State star.
"He's like my idol," Kentucky's redshirt freshman said of Mathieu, a consensus All-American and 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist.
So Edwards wears his hear bleached out on top in what he calls his own "football hairstyle."
This look is fine with his coaches. For now.
"All I tell him is if you're going to wear it like that, you've got to make plays like Honey Badger," secondary coach Derrick Ansley said.
That's the goal.
"When I get out there, I'm going to start making plays. Everybody will see it," Edwards said.
It's hard to miss Edwards with his helmet off, and since he's been able to join the team full time this spring, it's hard to miss him with his helmet on, too.
Just eight practices into spring, Edwards' name has come up over and over as a potential game-changer in the Kentucky secondary.
Even his head coach, who also helps coach safeties, has been singing the praises of the redshirt freshman who sat out last season while rehabilitating a shoulder injury and focusing on academics.
"He's going to be a very good football player," Coach Mark Stoops said. "You see the rust on him out there, but I see a lot of ability and he just needs reps. That's the great thing about spring. Each time he takes the field he's getting better and better."
Edwards has strong instincts and all of the physical attributes Stoops has been seeking in a free safety (6 feet, 186 pounds), and he expects him to make an immediate impact.
"We put guys in position but ultimately sometimes you gotta have instincts, you gotta make plays and I see a nice comfort zone with him," Stoops said. "He's still very raw ... got a lot to learn but ability-wise he looks like he has everything I want."
Edwards and fellow redshirt freshman safety Darius West have both made some plays in spring practice that have their coaches optimistic about the future of the UK secondary.
"Every rep we give that guy, he's going to get better," Ansley said of Edwards. "Now is he swimming a lot with the plays and knowing what to do? Yes. But every rep those guys get, they get better."
The four-star prospect from Cincinnati — ranked the 25th-best safety in the nation in 2013 by Rivals.com — is appreciative of every chance he gets on the football field.
Having to sit out last season and having little contact with coaches and teammates was difficult for Edwards.
It made him happy to be back on the field, even in his first scrimmage when he "ended up on the ground" thanks to a teammate.
"A year like that reminded me how much I like football, that it's my life," Edwards said. "It's like a year that's gone, that was taken away from me and that was really frustrating."
He said sitting out and rehabbing and working out on his own built up a stronger desire in him to play well.
As a senior at Winton Woods High School, he had seven interceptions, two fumble recoveries and 46 tackles. He finished with 92 tackles and five picks his junior season.
Sitting out was frustrating, but it taught Edwards some valuable lessons.
"I just had to come together, check myself, get focused," he continued. "I really had to focus on rehabbing my shoulder and get in the weight room and stuff like that."
Montgomery undergoes more surgery
Sophomore wide receiver Alexander Montgomery will miss the rest of spring practice after having his surgically repaired knee cleaned up this week.
Stoops said a piece of loose cartilage had created some swelling and soreness.
"It was actually good news that we went in there and found that and clipped it out of there," Stoops said. "He'll be fine. Good that it wasn't anything structurally."
Montgomery missed all of last season after having surgery on a torn anterior cruciate ligament and he was showing promise this spring before the knee started to bother him again.
■ Redshirt freshman linebacker Kobie Walker will miss the rest of spring practice after having surgery to repair an ankle injury. Stoops said it was a high ankle sprain that required surgery.
The three-star prospect out of Baltimore had been making a strong push for playing time before the injury, with outside linebackers coach Andy Buh saying the 6-foot-3, 201-pounder was "a guy we're really keeping a close eye on.
"He's going to be able to do a lot of different things for us," Buh said. "So when I say open up the package, that guy's going to be the first guy we're looking to that can do some of those things."
■ Nico Firios is back on the practice field after a shoulder injury late last week, Stoops said, noting that the redshirt freshman linebacker "looks really good." Firios is one of a couple of guys, including Jordan Jones and Dorian Hendrix, vying for playing time at the shorthanded linebacker spots.
■ There has been no update on the NCAA appeal for Nebraska transfer Courtney Love to be eligible to play this season at Kentucky, and Stoops didn't have a timeline.
■ Kentucky's Bud Dupree, expected to be chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 30, has invited Stoops to join him in Chicago for the event.
"He asked me to go and I'm honored to go with him," Stoops said Wednesday. "I certainly enjoyed going in the past with some of my ex-players."