FIVE PLAYERS YOU KNOW
Jordan Jones: Jones went from an unknown, a special teams player as a freshman who had 10 tackles total to a starter at weakside linebacker with 109 tackles last year. Jones led the team in tackles for loss (15.5) and tackles per game (8.4) and might see those numbers go up with more discipline.
Mike Edwards: Thanks to more depth in the secondary, the junior might not lead Southeastern Conference defensive backs in tackles this season like he did in 2016 when he had 100. But the fact that he can play three different spots in the secondary — including nickelback — makes him invaluable.
Benny Snell: Snell sneaked up on defenses last season and ran all over them, scoring more points (78) than any freshman in the SEC. What will he do for an encore? Can he do it without the complementary running of Boom Williams?
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Stephen Johnson: The junior college transfer came in during the worst of circumstances and helped guide UK to wins in seven of its final 10 games. Better accuracy on intermediate throws could make him even more dangerous.
C.J. Conrad: With a repaired shoulder and an offense that seems to be putting an emphasis on finding the middle of the field again, it could be a breakout year for Conrad (19 catches, 262 yards, four scores last year) and UK’s other tight ends.
FIVE PLAYERS YOU WILL KNOW
Lynn Bowden: Four-star true freshman wide receiver missed a week of training camp and was still impressing by the first scrimmage because of his natural instincts and superior skill. Even if it’s just on special teams, he’ll make a name for himself in 2017.
Darius West: A series of injuries has kept the junior safety from making a name for himself, but if he stays healthy, he’s a key component in the UK secondary, with cornerback Derrick Baity calling West that group’s vocal leader and “enforcer.”
Josh Allen: Studying the finer points and focusing on the details of his outside linebacker spot has coaches singing the praises of the junior outside linebacker, who led the team in sacks last season with seven to go with his 62 tackles and four forced fumbles, most in the league.
Jordan Griffin: Teammates have described the versatile sophomore as “the perfect person” for his intelligence and good instincts off the field. Those attributes and the fact that he can play cornerback, nickel or safety could make him the perfect person to complete an already dangerous UK secondary this year.
Kayaune Ross: Perhaps no player on the UK roster looks more like his NFL counterparts than 6-foot-6, 225-pound wideout Kayaune Ross. He was sidelined with a back injury most of last season, but has come on strong in preseason camp and will be a tough matchup in the end zone.