Kash Daniel: ‘Nobody wants to see us win. ... Besides my man Paul Finebaum.’
Below is a transcript of Kentucky linebacker Kash Daniel’s entire availability with local reporters Thursday morning at SEC Media Days.
Q: What was it like to find out you got to come to SEC Media Days?
A: It was pretty cool man. It’s a thing you grow up watching and I got to see C.J. (Conrad) and Josh (Allen) and Benny (Snell) and Courtney (Love), all those guys go before in my earlier days here. To see everything that’s involved with it and see it on TV and have your name out there, it’s pretty cool. I’m excited to be here.
Q: (Suit inspired by Game of Thrones character Jon Snow). Is there any method to the Jon Snow look?
A: He’s just a bad you-know-what. There’s a lot of symbolism behind it, but overall he’s just a really cool dude and I like Game of Thrones.
Q: Did you approve of how the season ended?
A: No. It could have been written differently but they did what they have to do, so whatever.
Q: Coming to SEC Media Days is kind of a rite of passage. Have you arrived as a leader of this ball club?
A: I don’t know if it’s essentially like I’ve arrived or anything like that. It’s just the fact that Coach Stoops, obviously he thought pretty highly of me, and our team, and Logan (Stenberg) and Lynn (Bowden), to bring them as well. I’m just very thankful that Coach Stoops thinks that highly of me and wants to bring me to certain events like this to represent the university.
Q: How cool is it to be here from Paintsville, Kentucky?
A: It’s pretty cool. I was actually telling my dad, it’s pretty crazy sitting here and looking back at things now that you’re where you are now. He said, ‘It’s not crazy. You work your tail off and you did everything the right way, now go enjoy yourself.’ That’s what I’m here to do.
Q: Are you ready to get to football after fishing?
A: I’m ready to get to football right now. After media days I’m ready to go back and practice. Let’s get it.
Q: It’s easy to look at this team and see the guys you don’t have. With the guys you do have, how good can this ball club be at the beginning of the season when a lot of people think it may take time to get your feet wet?
A: This ball club could be as good, if not better, than last year’s team. Just because we lost a lot of talented guys doesn’t mean there’s not a lot of talented guys in the back that are gonna step up. Like I’ve said to so many people, Coach Stoops, he’s not gonna offer people to come here and sit on the bench and just get free gear, walk around campus and go to school. He’s not doing that. He’s recruiting players right now to come in and take my job. He’s recruiting players right now to come take over for Josh Allen and Benny Snell. That’s what building a program is. That’s what Coach Stoops is doing here. He’s not just building a two- or three-year team. This is now a program where we can now reload instead of rebuild.
Q: He’s building a culture of toughness with guys who have that chip-on-their-should mentality.
A: Absolutely. If you look at it year after year, it’s a set of steps. Each step you get higher and higher and higher. Wirth the work ethic that Coach Stoops and his staff, and Coach Ed (Corey Edmond) and Coach (Mark) Hill and the strength and conditioning staff have put into helping us build our capacity and be able to take things with a heavier load year in and year out, and keep continuing to build that capacity year after year so we can continue to build ourselves as football players and a football program. The toughness and resilience you see out of this program, it’s not by a habit of luck. It’s by a habit of work that we put in each and every day to get the best results possible out there on the field.
Q: What is your pitch to the players who want to take your job someday?
A: To take my job? You better have to kill me. That’s about the only way you’re gonna get it.
Q: You had to wait behind Courtney Love before getting a lot of playing time. Davonte Robinson and Jordan Griffin will have bigger roles this year after waiting. What is that transition like?
A: It’s just a deal where you come in, and everybody wants to play right away, and the reality of it is it’s the SEC and college football. You have some freshmen that come in and play right away, like Benny and some defensive players, but for me, J.G. and Davonte, I had to wait a couple years and so have they. At that time it gives you an opportunity to learn how to take mental reps, how to watch film, what to look for out there in practice, how to practice basically. And how to come to work with an attitude every day to get better. I think me being behind Courtney and getting a chance to watch him do what he did was a really good example for me, not only as a leader, but as a player as well. It’s a lot of things where you’ve gotta soak in everything around you, and I think Davonte and J.G. have done an unbelievable job for us this spring and also this summer helping me organize 7-on-7 stuff with the coaches not being there and stuff like that. I’m really excited to see those guys come out and do their thing and it should be really exciting for people.
Q: Should we expect Josh Paschal to be rusty?
A: I couldn’t tell ya about Josh’s recovery. What I do know is Josh is a great teammate of mine and he does an unbelievable job of coming to work each and every day with a smile on his face and ready to get better. It was funny, Wednesday is usually our day off, but I can’t sleep past 6:45 (a.m.). I’m used to waking up early for workouts, so I woke up and couldn’t back to sleep so I decided to go do a little workout, not too much heavy stuff, and maybe get some field work in. Forty-five minutes later here comes Josh, (he said) ‘I saw your Instagram story that you were in here so I had to come get one in too.’ That just tells you the kind of guy he is and how hard he’s willing work to get back out on that field and help this team win and get back to a bowl game.
Q: What would you all have to do this year to get more respect going into next year compared to what you’re receiving this year?
A: I don’t think we have to do anything special. Just keep continuing to do what we’ve been doing over the last couple of years. Like I said, Coach Stoops wants us to build our capacity. Each and every year he talks about how that capacity gets expanded and grows, and how we as players have to fill that. Coach Ed, he told us this year, with our strength and conditioning program each and every year, we crank it up about 10 percent because he knows we’re young, resilient men who can take it. And the more we take, the more we build, and the more we build, the more successful we’re gonna be. To get that kind of work ethic instilled in us throughout the locker room, I think Coach Stoop instilling that kind of work ethic is what will take this program to the heights in wants to be.
Q: A lot of guys last season said a lack of respect was a motivator for them. Did you get that sense?
A: If you look at what people said about us and how they kind of picked us to lose almost every game last year, yea, it is kind of disrespectful. When I saw that they came out and gave us a one percent chance to win the SEC East (this year) and all this stuff, we don’t really focus on preseason predictions, but just as a leader, as a guy who cares about his team and cares about his teammates and knows what kind of work we’ve put in, that the outside people and these predictors don’t get to see. They don’t get to see the work we’re putting in, they don’t get to see the extra reps we’ve been getting, the extra film, the extra time, the extra installs one through five that are already in before camp starts. We’re five steps ahead of where we were last year. I’m pretty sure they were talking this same time last year about how we were gonna win four games, five games just like every other year and then we go out and do what we did. So you can keep running your mouth, you can keep talking about us, and we’ll shut it up for you on the football field.
Q: Were you surprised about that after winning 10 games?
A: No, I’m not surprised, because nobody wants to see us win. Nobody wants to see us win.
Q: Why is that?
A: They just don’t want to see us win. If I had the answer, brother, I’d tell ya.
Q: Do you really believe that?
A: I really do. Everybody always picks us to lose. Everybody wants us to lose besides my man Paul Finebaum, he picks us every once in a while, so shoutout to Paul.
Q: Who are some of the guys who will make an impact immediately on defense that are filling holes left behind by Josh Allen, etc.?
A: When you look at it and how many guys we had leave last year, you obviously look at the secondary and how many of those guys are gone. Like we were talking about with J.G. and Davonte, those two guys are gonna step in and take over our secondary for us and become really good leaders. They’ve gotten a couple of years to look behind Darius West, who led that secondary. They got to see Chris Westry, Derrick Baity, Lonnie Johnson, and how to play the game how it’s supposed to be played and how to go make plays in big-time situations. So for those guys in the secondary, it’s gonna be huge for ’em. Replacing Josh is a big thing. He’s 6-5, two-whatever, however Coach Ed built him, but Boogie (Watson) has done a great job this spring and I think that just because people focus on Josh, Boogie’s a player too. I think he’s gonna surprise a lot of people that don’t give him the respect that he’s earned just because he was behind Josh so much. No disrespect to Josh at all, because of everything he’s done for us and he’s probably one of the greatest players to ever come through this program. But to see Boogie get a chance and J-Dub (Jordan Wright), everybody’s gonna be able to step up. And behind me with Chris Oats, DEandre Square, Jamin Davis, the list goes on. And there’s gonna be a couple young guys who come in this class who obviously I think have the potential to come up and help us this fall.
Q: How cool is it that so many Kentucky boys are going to be big contributors this season?
A: It’s awesome. Like you said, to be a Kentucky boy and to represent that blue and white across your chest and that name, it means something more special I think. It’s not just a normal Saturday, it’s not just a normal college football game at a normal SEC school for me and plenty of other Kentucky kids. And not just the Kentuckians, but people who aren’t from here, they understand the importance of it and how important we actually take it. It means a lot and we’re really proud that we get to represent our state every Saturday and we try to make everybody as proud as we can.
Q: Who do you study to get better?
A: I mean, I study myself by studying what I did wrong. When you watch film, you already know what you did wrong when you watch it, you know how to correct it. But just to pick up some new things, there’s a lot of film I watch on Luke Keuchly. He’s got unbelievable foot work, he’s got unbelievable lateral speed, unbelievable violence with the way he rolls his hips and how he recognizes play. His pass coverage is phenomenal for an inside backer. He is the prototype NFL inside linebacker that I love to watch. Watching film on him really helps me break down my fundamentals and technique to where I can become a better football player.
Q: Have you received any kind of assessment on your stock heading into the 2020 NFL Draft?
A: Nah, I’ve not really been worried about that. All I’ve been worried about is what Coach Ed and Coach Hill have to say about what my running is and my lifting and everything like that, which has been up to par, if not better.
Q: Have you been told not to call any of these SEC reporters jackasses?
A: Yeah. Coach Stoops told us to be ourselves but not to be too ourselves.
Q: How do you walk that line?
A: That was just (a joke). I didn’t think anybody would take it serious. I’m just here to have fun, man. I’m not here to say anything stupid or outlandish or make predictions or say I’m the best at this or that. I’m not here to do that. I’m just here to have fun with my teammates and have fun with this event, cause it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m very fortunate to be here.
Q: Benny came here last year and said he was the best running back in the SEC.
A: Oh I forgot about that. That’s Benny’ personality. That’s what gets him going and that’s what makes Benny Benny. That’s not me. I’m here to be me.
Q: Are doubts good?
A: I kind of like the fact that people still disrespect us and still think we’re at the bottom of this league and the bottom of this conference. Each and every year since I’ve been here, starting with my freshman year, we’ve started a foundation here. That year we took this step, the next year took this step, and the next year we took this step. So how come this year can we not take this step? That’s my process and how I look at it. If these people come out and say that just because we lost all these talented players (we can’t win), colleges lose talented players all the time. And the reason that they continue to have good players is because they’ve built a foundational program. I think Coach Stoops and his staff have finally gotten to the point where they can sign a great recruiting class each and every year to replace players due to graduation. I have no problem with people doubting us and disrespecting us. So keep it up.
Q: Why do some programs get the benefit of the doubt?
A: Just because I think it is the rich winning history some of these programs have, and rightfully so. They’ve earned. I think maybe we just have to earn it. It is what it is. We’ll have to go earn it.
Q: Are you comfortable with you are physically?
A: I’m very comfortable where I’m at and where my team’s at. Where we are academically, where we are on the football field and where we are in the weight room. Everybody’s putting up good numbers, everybody’s running fast and everybody’s getting stronger. I’m very comfortable where we’re at right now and I can’t wait to get to fall camp.
Q: That pin you’re wearing is Game of Thrones. What does that represent?
A: It’s House Stark. They’re the baddest of the house. Jon Snow had a 1 percent chance of beating the Whitewalkers, but he did.
Q: Who is your Arya Stark?
A: S--t I don’t know man. I just like it cause I’m a big fan. Plus I kind of got the hair down, so it’s like putting 2 and 2 together.
Q: How has the tone been set for younger players in the program?
A: The way I look at it, everything that I’ve learned through people is almost through being engaged with ’em. Just watching, knowing how to practice, how to attack workouts every day, how to take notes in a meeting, how to go through every rep like it’s your last. It’s little things like that that you may not think the young guys pick up on but it’s the little things that you do. Even if you’re a leader and you’re holding people to these standards, you better hold yourself to those standards or else you’re gonna be a false leader. And that’s one thing that I’ve always taken pride in, is never throwing out false information or misleading my teammates to where I’m demanding this or that and I’m not doing it myself. I’ve never been like that.
Q: What did you write down the last time you took practice notes?
A: Coverages and things like that. Even if it’s stuff I already know and have done, it’s repetitive. The more you write it down the more you’re gonna remember it. That’s it.
Q: What have you see from transfer Xavier Peters?
A: X, he’s done a great job coming in for us this summer. He’s really busted his butt. I got to work out ofr him the first two weeks of summer workouts and then he had to change to another workout group because of his class schedule. But the time that I’ve been with him, he’s here to work, he’s here to learn and he’s here to play. If he gets a chance to be eligible, he’s definitely gonna help us this season.