Kentucky's 2009 defense is beginning to take shape and Jeremy Jarmon will be a part of it. The junior defensive end announced on Monday he will return for his senior season after deliberating a jump to the National Football League.
Jarmon, who was a Second Team All-SEC performer in 2007 and honorable mention honoree this past season, made the decision after receiving a NFL Draft evaluation and in multiple discussions with UK coach Rich Brooks.
"After the bowl game, I stayed home and talked to my parents, who thought strongly that the best thing for me was to stay and finish my education," said Jarmon, who is nearing his degree in political science. "I talked to Coach (Rich) Brooks and my high school coach, Tim Haney, and got some good advice from them. They felt I have more upside as a player and can get bigger and stronger."
The 6-foot-3, 277-pound defensive end has been one of the Cats' most feared pass rushers the past two seasons. He tallied 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2008, bringing his career totals to 30 tackles for loss and 17.5 quarterback sacks. Jarmon also has 130 career tackles, two fumbles recovered, five forced fumbles and 12 pass breakups. He will enter 2009 needing nine sacks to break Oliver Barnett's school record of 26.
Jarmon's return gives UK half of its starting defensive line back and the second - middle linebacker Micah Johnson being the other - of three juniors back who were exploring their professional standing. Cornerback Trevard Lindley has yet to make a decision and faces a Thursday deadline to do so.
"It's exciting to get Jeremy back," Brooks said. "It's great to have an experienced leader back to help our young players improve. Much like (linebacker) Micah Johnson, he has first- or second-round draft potential. Jeremy can really improve his game in the coming year, and with he and Micah coming back, we can be more competitive in the SEC."
Most observers felt like Jarmon would return to school but he said Johnson's decision certainly made his an easier one to make. The Cats saw significant improvement on the defensive side of the ball in 2008, going from 67th in 2007 to 37th this year in total defense after slicing 70 yards per game off their total defense per game average.
"We can get better on both sides of the ball," Jarmon said. "We have a lot of young players coming back on offense. Getting Micah back helps a lot on defense.
"It looks promising to continue to rewrite the Kentucky record books. Our goals will be to go to a fourth-straight bowl game, get four-straight bowl wins and win an SEC championship."
Matt May is the football beat reporter for The Cats' Pause. If you have questions or comments about the Cats e-mail him here.