October 4, 2011

Faulkner overcomes obstacles to make impact

Some obstacles that have kept Glenn Faulkner in a limited role for the Wildcats may have been a little overblown.

For instance, the freshman safety and former four-star recruit from East St. Louis said qualifying for school wasn't all that tough.

"It wasn't really as tough as everybody made it seem," he said. "I just worked hard and earned an A in a summer class and the NCAA cleared me. It was a math class."

When he finally arrived on campus, though, he had another obstacle waiting for him: the thick defensive playbook implemented by defensive coordinator Rick Minter. It was unlike anything he'd seen in high school, and unlike fellow freshmen Eric Dixon and Ashely Lowery[db], who had been on campus all summer, he only had a few weeks of fall camp to catch up.

"The playbook had a lot of different stunts," he said. "You have more blitzes. In high school I didn't blitz so much, I just played over the top in man coverage."

Then, in fall camp, tragedy struck. Faulkner suffered an unexpected death in the family. Faulkner's parents called UK assistant [db]Tee Martin first and told him. Martin had been the primary recruiter for Faulkner. They called him first because they didn't want to tell Faulkner before he went through practice that day. Martin was supposed to tell him after practice.

But a friend called Faulkner first to offer her condolences, assuming he had already heard the news. That was how he heard his nephew, Bryan Stewart, had died.

"I just dropped," Faulkner said. "I immediately packed up my stuff and went and supported my mother. They're taking it well … It was tragic."

He spent a week at home while the team continued to practice. It was tough to leave his family again, but he knew he had to return to Lexington.

"I knew my nephew would want me to be here," Faulkner said. "I have a job to do. I'm going to do whatever it takes."

That week of missed practice set him back even further. He didn't play in the Wildcats' season opener against Western Kentucky, but made it on the field on special teams against Central Michigan. He's played on special teams every game since then, but still hasn't made it in on defense.

But that has nothing to do with his potential, defensive backs coach Steve Brown said.

"He's very athletic for his position. He has courage," Brown said. "He'll hit, but I think he's more of a fine athlete than a big hitter. He's probably a complete player, but what he is right now won't even equate for what he will be. The future looks beautiful for him."

Moving from defense to special teams has been a big adjustment for Faulkner. He's used to being a major player in the secondary.

"It don't feel right, but I have to learn the playbook before I get on the field," Faulkner said.

His late arrival to campus and the time he missed due to the death in his family have set him behind. Brown said he still has to correct him often in practice, though that's to be expected. His ability to make an impact on special teams, though, is a testament to his athletic ability.

Brown wants to make sure Faulkner has enough time to be ready before he sees the field on defense. When he does, though, he's still expected to have a major impact.

"He's a very gifted, athletic player," Brown said. "He's very talented, very athletic and he's a guy who is going to be a great player for us in the future."

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