Linebacker De’Niro Laster plans to leave Kentucky and play his final season of eligibility elsewhere, a team spokesman confirmed on Saturday.
The senior is on pace to graduate in May. Early last season, Laster was working his way into the rotation at both inside and outside linebacker before a knee injury sidelined him. He was expected to be full speed by the start of spring practice in March.
Laster played in five games this season, tallying 14 tackles, including two for a loss and one sack.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was a high school teammate of wide receiver Dorian Baker. Laster transferred from Minnesota to UK after a series of hardships struck his family.
Linebacker was a position of need last season, but Kentucky has some experience now at both inside and outside linebacker, including returning inside linebackers Courtney Love and Jordan Jones, and their regular backups, Kash Daniel and Eli Brown.
Both of the Cats’ top outside linebacker/defensive end spots are back in Josh Allen and Denzil Ware.
And then there is a wide variety of linebacker options behind those players, including Jordan Bonner, Kobie Walker, Nico Firios and Kengera Daniel, among others, depending on formation.
The Cats also redshirted several linebackers last season, including Jaylin Bannerman, Roland Walder and Jamar Watson, and they signed two others, Jamin Davis and Alex King.
With the departure of Laster, UK appears to be over the 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.