Another Kentucky linebacker has opted to transfer, a team spokesman confirmed Thursday.
Kobie Walker, a 6-foot-3 junior from Baltimore, is no longer with the program.
Walker is the third linebacker to announce his plans to transfer in the past few weeks, starting with De’Niro Laster and then Nico Firios on Monday.
Walker had been sidetracked by various injuries that had limited his playing time since arriving at UK, including a shoulder injury that ended his season early last year.
Walker played in three games last season, including one career start in the opener against Southern Miss when he had 10 total tackles, second most on the team.
Before the start of last season, Walker had been lauded by his coaches for being a versatile player who could be in a hybrid role of some sort. His name was mentioned regularly in fall camp last year.
“He has the ability to cover like a safety and he has the size to play like a linebacker,” then-defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said.
But head coach Mark Stoops lamented after the Southern Miss loss that maybe UK had put too much on Walker, who later was suspended for the next game.
“He’s going to be a good player, and we’ve got to continue to bring him along,” Stoops said. “That was a lot for him in the first game.”
Walker didn’t play in 2015 while battling through an ankle injury, and then later he was academically ineligible.
Before it became public that Walker was leaving the program, new defensive coordinator Matt House was asked Thursday morning about the dwindling depth at linebacker. He didn’t seem concerned.
House specifically mentioned Kash Daniel (19 tackles last season), Eli Brown (24 tackles) and early enrollee Jamin Davis, whom Stoops called a prototype weakside linebacker, as options inside for UK.
“We’ve got good competition still going on there,” House said. “There’s still depth there.”
Kentucky returns both starters at the two inside linebacker spots in Courtney Love, who was third on the team in tackles with 76, and Jordan Jones, who led UK with 109 tackles, including 15.5 for loss, four sacks and nine quarterback hurries.
Jones could be a special player, Stoops said of his weakside linebacker, if he continues to do what he needs to do, specifically off the field.
“He’s been recognized and talked about as an impact player returning,” Stoops said. “One of the guys in the SEC that’s returning that can be an impact player and be a difference-maker, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Love, a vocal leader on the defense, said this spring has had a completely different feel from last spring when all of the newcomers at linebacker were still learning the plays and getting to know one another.
“It’s great because we kind of just picked up where we left off,” Love said. “It seems like we just got done, which is a good thing because it’s still fresh in everybody’s mind still, making that bowl game. Those extra practices really helped out.”
The inside linebackers have had to be especially aware during spring now that their position coach (House) is the new defensive coordinator.
“Now we have to definitely be on top of our game because he’s our defensive coordinator and he’s the linebackers coach,” Love said. “We’re a direct reflection on what he does.”
With the latest departure, UK appears to be over the NCAA mandated 85 scholarship limit, but just by one. That count isn’t official and includes the scholarships awarded last season to offensive tackle Cole Mosier and wideout Charles Walker.