Jen Smith on UK Football

Kentucky loses starting linebacker to injury. See how long he’ll be out and UK’s other options.

Kentucky linebacker Jordan Jones (34) celebrated a play for a loss of yards as UK lost to Ole Miss 37-34 at Kroger Field on Saturday Nov. 4, 2017 in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky linebacker Jordan Jones (34) celebrated a play for a loss of yards as UK lost to Ole Miss 37-34 at Kroger Field on Saturday Nov. 4, 2017 in Lexington, Ky.

The University of Kentucky football team will be without starting weakside linebacker Jordan Jones for the remainder of the spring.

The longtime starter will have surgery on his right shoulder for an undisclosed injury suffered in Tuesday’s practice, head coach Mark Stoops announced Thursday.

“He will require surgery on his shoulder,” Stoops said. “We expect a full recovery and will push it right until about August. So it’s unfortunate. He’s been getting better and having a really good spring.”

It is not the same shoulder, nor the same type of injury that Jones suffered last season that forced him to miss games.

Jones will miss the Blue-White Spring Game a week from Friday and probably will be limited for a significant portion of the summer while recovering from surgery, Stoops confirmed.

The Youngstown, Ohio, native played in nine games last season and finished with 64 tackles, including 7.5 for loss. Jones also had two sacks and three quarterback hurries along with one forced fumble.

For his career, Jones has played in 30 games with 21 starts. He has 183 tackles, including 109 his breakout sophomore season when he also recorded 15.5 tackles for loss.

Inside linebacker is a spot where Kentucky doesn’t have many options at the moment. Jones’ backup, Eli Brown, transferred to Western Kentucky before the start of spring practice.

Jamin Davis, who was cross training at both inside linebacker spots this spring, suffered a minor knee injury and has been out for two weeks.

UK's football practices are normally closed. On Thursday, the media was invited to watch workouts. Here's a look at some of what took place as the Cats prepared for their Blue-White Spring Game on April 13.

Fellow redshirt freshman Alex King had been a backup inside as well, but the linebacker missed Thursday’s practice with an ankle injury, which Stoops said he expects to heal quickly. No time line has been set for Davis’ return.

Middle linebacker Kash Daniel has been impressing coaches this spring as the new starter in place of the departed Courtney Love.

Playing next to Daniel for much of Thursday’s practice — in place of Jones — was mid-year enrollee DeAndre Square, who just joined the team in January.

Square is a player that both Stoops and defensive coordinator Matt House described as “a pleasant surprise.

“I always get asked that question at some point during a spring of a guy who jumps out at you or is surprising us, and that’s him. He would definitely be that guy,” Stoops said of the 6-foot-1, 205-pound freshman from Detroit’s Cass Tech.

“He steps in when the bullets are flying when we’re playing full tempo or full scrimmage and he really makes some plays. You can tell he’s got a lot of natural instincts. I like the way he’s playing.”

The defense showed another wrinkle Thursday, during the team’s first spring practice open to the media, with regular starting free safety Darius West moving into a linebacker spot.

In UK’s base 3-4 defense, West drops into the middle of the field and plays a hybrid middle linebacker position already, so it’s not a huge move for him.

“He can do it relatively easy,” Stoops said of West, who is listed at 210 pounds but is known as one of the Cats’ most physical players on defense. “He gives us some other options in different packages to play that spot.”

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