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March 27, 2013

Dupree learning on the fly at defensive end

There weren't many familiar faces when Mark Stoops and D.J. Eliot arrived at Kentucky from Florida State.

At a new school in a new conference, the first-time head coach and young defensive coordinator found themselves starting over. But there was at least one name Eliot saw as he scanned the Wildcats' roster of returning players: Bud Dupree.

Dupree had camped at Florida State when he was in high school, and Eliot remembered the speed and quickness of the rangy young player. At that point, Dupree was being recruited by some schools as a tight end, while others saw him as a defender.

Two years later, he's settled in at defensive end. He spent a few days when he first arrived at UK working with tight ends before moving to defense, and started the entire 2012 season at linebacker.

"I believe that Bud is a natural defensive end," Eliot said. "The more that he continues to get reps, he's only going to get better. He's got all the ability in the world, he just is not technically sound right now. But he's progressing every day."

He had 91 tackles and 6.5 sacks as a sophomore while bouncing around several linebacker positions last year, but has been fine to make the move. He's aware of the reputation Eliot and Stoops built by working with defensive ends at Florida State.

Two Seminoles -- Bjoern Werner and junior college transfer Cornellius Carradine -- could go in the first round of the draft this year alone.

"My eyes light up when I see that. I hope that they have two first round picks this year. Maybe that can be me and (Za'Darius Smith) also."

With Eliot coaching the linebackers and running the defense and Stoops managing the production, it'll be up to defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh to try and make that happen.

He's been pleased with what he's seen from Dupree and Smith so far. Both are raw, but they have the athletic ability to make an impact this season.

"As soon as (Dupree) got on the field and changed direction and ran, I could tell he was a big-time guy," Brumbaugh said.

Dupree isn't changing direction anymore; he's moving forward at defensive end. With tight end and linebacker in his past, he's looking at defensive end as his ticket to the NFL.

"I'm just trying to embrace what Coach Brumbaugh is telling me every day," Dupree said. "I make a lot of mistakes in practice, so I'm just trying to do what he says. Everything is so new, I just have to get used to doing it. Once I get used to doing it, I think I'll be good with it."

Rumph out indefinitely
Senior defensive tackle Donte Rumph sustained a serious injury in spring practice on Monday and is expected to be out for a significant period of time, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said on Wednesday.

Stoops didn't give details about the injury, but said it would likely require surgery. He was scheduled to be evaluated on Wednesday.

"He was probably the most consistent player we had going on defense, so it's a big loss for us," Stoops said.

Rumph had started 18 games over the last two seasons, including 11 of the Wildcats' 12 games in 2012. He finished his junior year with 36 tackles, six tackles for loss and four sacks.

He was working with the starters again this spring when he suffered the injury. The 6-foot-3, 323-pound Rumph signed with UK three times before finally reaching campus before the 2010 season.

"The thing about it is, yes, we lost him, but other guys have to step up now," Brumbaugh said. "Somebody has to step up and be in that nucleus of players. You're going to lose players and the biggest thing is, that's why I push my second team and third team guys to get reps. They get better. You're going to have a dropoff, but the thing is, can you still function and win ball games?"

Senior defensive tackle Tristian Johnson, who started the final nine games of 2012, was working with the first team defense on Wednesday in Rumph's place. Senior Mister Cobble was the other defensive tackle working with the first string.


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