The Kentucky Wildcats will be looking for someone to emerge as their defensive captain in 2020 as two-year starting middle linebacker Kash Daniel‘s college career is over.

Luckily for the Cats, they have plenty of options to replace Daniel in several experienced players and those set to play a more significant role.

Here’s a look at the Wildcats 2020 inside linebackers.

DeAndre Square (#17) records a sack in Kentucky’s 45-13 victory vs. Louisville. Photo by Brandon Turner.

DeAndre Square #17

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-1, 217 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Detroit Mich., Cass Tech

247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 37 Safety in 2018

DeAndre Square is perhaps the most well-known returner on Kentucky’s defense. As a true freshman in 2018, Square played in all 13 games, including drawing a start in the Citrus Bowl against Penn State. He recorded 35 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble to earn a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team.

He followed up his stellar freshman year by recording 69 total tackles with four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble as a full-time starter in 2019.

Square will look to continue making a name for himself in 2020 as one of the SEC’s top linebackers as he is set to become the captain of the UK defense.

Chris Oats (#22) throws the L’s down during Kentucky’s 45-17 win vs. Louisville. Photo by Brandon Turner

Chris Oats #22

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-3, 232 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Cincinnati, Ohio, Junior

247 Recruit Rankings: 4-star, No.  22 Outside Linebacker in 2018

Chris Oats’ status for the 2020 season is very much in question. In May, Oats suffered a non-COVID-19 related medical issue that requires intense rehab; thus, no one truly knows if he will be apart of the Wildcats defense in 2020.

If he is, the Wildcats will have a dynamic player entering his Junior season. As a true freshman in 2018, Oats played in all 13 games and totaled 27 tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries, including one that sealed the Citrus Bowl for UK.

In 2019, Oats finished fifth on the team with 46 tackles with 2.5 coming for a loss. He also forced a fumble and in the Belk Bowl against Virginia Tech, recorded a single-game career-high two tackles for loss.

Jamin Davis (#44) records a tackle vs. Louisville. Photo by Brandon Turner.

Jamin Davis#44

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-4, 232 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Ludowici, Ga., Long County

247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 60 Outside Linebacker in 2017

Jamin Davis enters 2020 off the heels of a breakout 2019 campaign. Davis redshirted in 2017 and in 2018 played in all 13 games, finishing with 10 tackles and an interception.

In 2019, Davis again played in all 13 games and made his first career start. He totaled 32 tackles, a sack, two quarterback hurries and an interception. In Kentucky’s 45-13 win over Louisville Davis recorded career-high seven tackles including his first college sack and made six tackles in the Wildcats Belk Bowl win over Virginia Tech.

If Davis can carry the momentum he built for himself late during his Sophomore season, 2020 might be a monster campaign.

Jared Casey speaks with the media after Kentucky defeated Missouri 29-7 at Kroger Field. Photo: Aaron Gershon/Big Blue Insider

Jared Casey #6

Class: Redshirt Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-3, 229 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Louisville Ky., Ballard 

247 Recruit Rankings: 4-star, No. 21 Inside Linebacker in 2019

Louisville native Jared Casey enters 2020 chomping at the bit. The four-star high school recruit was held to three games in 2019 to preserve a redshirt year.

In limited action, Casey recorded just one tackle with appearances against Missouri, UT Martin and Louisville.

With Oats’ status in question and Daniel gone, Casey will likely play a much more significant role in 2020 with the redshirt ripped off.

Photo: Marquez Bembry on Twitter.

Marquez Bembry #42

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-3, 223 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Stone Mountain, Ga., Mount Vernon Presbyterian

247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 45 JUCO Prospect in 2019

Junior College product Marquez Bembry enters his second season of Division One Football with the Wildcats in 2020.

Bembry joined the Wildcats in 2019 after starting his college career at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi. He made his UK debut in the Cats 38-14 victory at Vanderbilt as he recorded one tackle in the win.

He will look for an increased role with the team in 2020.

D’Eryk Jackson speaks with the media upon arrival in Lexington as an early enrollee. Photo: Aaron Gershon/Big Blue Insider

D’Eryk Jackson #56

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-1, 249 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Dublin, Ga., West Laurens

247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 49 Inside Linebacker in 2020

Georgia native D’Eryk Jackson will be entering his true freshman season as a Kentucky Wildcat in 2020.

Jackson enrolled at UK early and took part in the Cats limited spring practices. As a Senior in High School, he recorded 129 total tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss and nine sacks. 

Tyler Malin speaks with the media upon arrival in Lexington as an early enrollee. Photo: Aaron Gershon/Big Blue Insider

Tyler Malin #39

Class: Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-1, 210 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Westlake, Ohio, Westlake

247 Recruit Rankings: 2-star, No. 243 Outside Linebacker in 2020

Tyler Malin will also be entering his true freshman season with the Wildcats in 2020. Malin was among UK’s early enrolees after recording 136 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and eight sacks as a High School Senior in 2019.

Malin is the son of Cleveland Browns Director of College Scouting, Steve Malin. He picked the Wildcats over Colorado, Kent State, Ohio State, Maryland and Michigan.

William Nalty headshot. Photo: UK Athletics.

William Nalty #38

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 6-0, 224 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Metairie, La., Metairie Park Country Day

247 Recruit Rankings: Unranked

William Nalty will be entering his final season as a Wildcat walk-on in 2020.

Nalty joined the Wildcats in 2017 and has practiced with the team ever since. He made his collegiate debut in UK’s 50-7 win over U-T Martin last season.

Jackson High headshot. Photo: UK Athletics.

Jackson High #40

Class: Senior

Height/Weight: 5-11, 245 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Union Ky., Ryle

247 Recruit Rankings: Unranked

Jackson High will also be putting the finishing touches on his career as a Wildcat walk-on in 2020.

High spent two seasons practicing with the team and finally made his collegiate debut against U-T Martin last season, recording his first collegiate tackle.

Braxton Eiserman headshot. Photo: UK Athletics.

Braxton Eiserman #46

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6-1, 199 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Jackson Ky., Breathitt County

247 Recruit Rankings: Unranked

Jackson, Kentucky native Braxton Eiserman will be entering his second season as a Wildcat walk-on in 2020.

Eiserman did not appear in any games last season. As a Senior in High School in 2018, he totaled 107 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six sacks.

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