Roster Rundown: No. 26 Brandin Echols
Brandin Echols was a standout performer in one of the nation's top secondaries last year and he returns as a key cog in a defense that will be expected to be among the nation's best in 2020.
He's next up, as No. 26, in Cats Illustrated's Roster Rundown.
Background: A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Echols was a three-sport high school athlete who was more of a receiver than a defensive back.
Echols was one of two JUCO defensive backs to sign with Kentucky ahead of the 2019 season, Quandre Mosely being the other, and he slid right in as a starter who played more snaps than any other corner on the team.
Echols was one of UK's best playmakers in the secondary a year ago. He covered, he broke on the ball, he broke passes up. He made things happen. Playing fundamentally sound defense will get you so far, but you still need players who will go out and turn what looks like a big third down conversion into a tipped pass or a jarred slant at the last minute, and that is what Joseph provided.
His 52 tackles, nine pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and 14 passes defended put him near the top of the league's charts in several coverage and defensive categories.
Earlier this offseason Steve Clinkscale told Cats Illustrated that the secret to Echols success is really a number of factors, "But the big part is he can run. He can stay with receivers like nobody's business."
Beyond football he was named to the SEC's Honor Roll, so his transition to UK went well on all counts.
2020 Outlook: Along with Kelvin Joseph, Echols will be one of Kentucky's starting cornerbacks, and part of a rotation that should include a couple of others who might have started for the Wildcats in another year.
Kentucky fans knew what Echols meant to the secondary but he probably did not get the respect that he deserved from across the SEC and beyond. If he has the kind of season this year that he had last year, or even improves his play, we will be talking about him as someone that scouts are looking at.