Jacob Hyde knows he likely won’t leave his mark as the greatest Kentucky defensive lineman in school history.
The former Clay County standout has played a limited role on the field in his multiple years on campus, but some of his most important work seems to be happening off the field.
The 6-foot-2, 320-pound backup nose guard was singled out as becoming a key vocal leader for the Cats, who are hurting for those on the defensive line after the unexpected exit of Regie Meant at the start of fall camp.
“We have a great leader in Jacob Hyde,” Coach Mark Stoops said last week of Hyde. “He may not be the most talented defensive lineman but he’s a great leader in that group.”
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Hyde played in four games last season, recording one tackle while dabbling some at the fullback spot in short yardage situations.
He hopes that role expands this season, but the junior knows he must expand his leadership role.
“I take pride in being a leader,” Hyde said. “I do things right and how they’re supposed to be done. I like to lead by example and not just as a vocal leader.”
It’s a complicated dance to become a vocal leader when you’re not a star on the field, but Hyde finds a way.
“It took me awhile to become a vocal leader,” he said. “I used to be quiet and do my own thing, but as time has come on, I just want to do things right and hold guys accountable. That’s the main thing.”
As for his role on the field, Hyde is running with the second string at nose guard presently, but it’s too early to tell if he’ll see the field more this season, defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said.
“Jacob has the right attitude,” he said. “Jacob has the character we’re looking for. Jacob has the work ethic. He has all the intangibles. I’ve been very impressed with what type of person and what type of effort he’s put into playing the game.”
And what about that fun experiment last season when UK put Hyde in at fullback from time to time? Should fans expect to see more of that?
“We’ll see. We’ll see,” he said. “That’s for Coach (Eddie) Gran and all the coaches on that side to decide. But if that’s where they want me and that’s where the good lord puts me, that’s where I’ll be.”
Southern Miss at Kentucky
When: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 3