Eli Brown, who seemed destined for a redshirt season this year, met with the Kentucky football coaches this week and asked to be put in the mix at linebacker, Mark Stoops said Wednesday.
"Eli came and talked to us and wants to play, and I said, 'Good, let's go,'" Stoops said. "So we need him. He wants to do whatever he can to help the team. He's good enough to play, so he's been working into the mix."
Initially the four-star linebacker from Bowling Green had discussed being redshirted as he tried to get bigger and stronger after coming off knee surgery.
But when Brown saw the Cats' depleted linebacker group — especially at the weakside linebacker spot where he will play — he told coaches he wanted to play this season.
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"He had to get his knee right — his knee is fine, but the strength in his leg and all those things," Stoops said when fall camp started.
Brown was running at times with the second team at weakside linebacker on Tuesday behind Khalid Henderson. The top player at that spot is Ryan Flannigan, who is day to day with a shoulder injury.
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said Brown gained 12-15 pounds during the summer and already looks the part.
"And he is extremely athletic, has great instincts," Eliot said. "He's a physical player, he loves to play the game and he's gonna have a bright future here and I'm looking forward to working with him even more."
In his senior season at Warren East, Brown had 50 tackles, including 10 for loss, an interception, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Senior linebacker Josh Forrest said the true freshman provides instant speed and depth: "Sometimes he makes mistakes, but he does it going 110 percent. I like Eli a lot."
Miggins making moves
Junior-college standout Courtney Miggins will be able to play right away and already has been used in a variety of ways on the defensive front, Eliot said.
"He's a good player and he has a lot of talent," Eliot said. "He's worked extremely hard and has the right mindset and mentality to play."
Defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh said Miggins, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound defensive lineman from Lithonia, Ga., has been a quick study despite arriving on campus just days before the start of fall camp.
"He's a fast learner," Brumbaugh said. "He really is a fast learner when it comes down to schemes and all that."
More than anything Miggins gives the Cats' defense some depth and options.
"He has the size and speed that we need," Brumbaugh said. "He's a four-technique that can be physical at the point, but then he's also in a 4-3 able to rush the passer. He's able to do a lot of those different things for us."