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Meet Eli Brown: Promising prospect, aspiring backup, now spotlight player

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USA TODAY Sports

Meet Eli Brown in 2014, a Bowling Green, Kentucky product committed to play for the University of Kentucky. He is considered one of the top players in the state and later played in the U.S. Army All-American Game.

Meet Eli Brown in 2016, a redshirt freshman that plays in 12 games. He records a season-high seven tackles against Alabama but never manages to overtake teammate Jordan Jones on the depth chart.

Meet Eli Brown in 2017, a sophomore whose lone start of the season against EKU draws the ire of the Big Blue Nation due to missed tackles and penalties. Jordan Jones replaces him in the second quarter, and Brown quietly reassumes his role as a backup.

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Meet Eli Brown on September 15, 2017. Jordan Jones is injured. For at least one game he is the replacement of the Cats' best defensive player.

Regardless of his many introductions, many Big Blue fans are asking, who is Eli Brown?

Kentucky defensive coordinator Matt House thinks he is a young player who did some good and some bad last Saturday.

"I think it was a learning experience. He did a really nice thing on the second play of that series and then not a very smart football play to prolong the drive", House said Wednesday after practice.

Head coach Mark Stoops echoed the same sentiment yesterday evening.

“Eli has played well. I was really looking forward to seeing him get more reps this past Saturday, but when he made that foolish penalty, it kind of aggravated us. He’s been playing good. He’s really had a solid camp, so I’m looking forward to seeing him play," Stoops said.

How does Brown describe himself as a football player?

"I have more of the physical game inside," he said on Thursday, mentioning that Jones is the kind of player who gets to the ball faster.

And despite the mixed reviews from fans and analysts alike, Brown does believe his start opened his eyes.

"I think that having that first drive helped me out a lot--opened my eyes. I think going in any week coach can put me in and I'll be able to play off the bat."

Brown said he also believes his full quarter of play allowed the unit to get a better feel for him being on the field instead of Jones.

At the mention of him getting more game reps, Brown said that has not changed his approach to practice and that his only goal to help the team as best he can. Something he might not have done a year ago.

"I came in last year lazy," Brown said with a cavernous grin on his face.

When asked to define "lazy," Brown suggested, in good humor, that Coach House clarify since he "was always getting on me."

So who is Eli Brown?

An ex-signature recruit struggling to find his place? Or a young player finally starting to put the pieces together?

The answer will come Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium when Brown will have to step up to fill a void in the biggest game of the season thus far.

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