Few programs across the nation have had better outside linebackers than the Kentucky Wildcats in recent years. Since 2015, two UK outside linebackers became first round NFL Draft picks in Bud Dupree and Josh Allen.
In 2020, the Cats again have a talented group of outside linebackers returning to campus, including one poised to come off the board early in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Here’s a look at the Wildcats 2020 outside linebackers.
Height/Weight: 6-3, 248 lbs.
Hometown/High School: Brandywine, Md., Bishop McNamara
247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 116 Outside Linebacker in 2016
Jamar “Boogie” Watson is poised to turn the heads of NFL Draft scouts and be UK’s top pass rusher as a senior in 2020. Watson redshirted in 2016 but in 2017 played in all 13 games recording two sacks.
In 2018 working across the field from Josh Allen, Watson played in 12 games, including seven starts and recorded 24 tackles, five sacks and a forced fumble.
He got off to a slow start in 2019 but finished the season strong as he recorded 6.5 sacks, 36 total tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while leading the team with 11.5 tackles for loss and seven quarterback hurries.
Height/Weight: 6-5, 237 lbs.
Hometown/High School: Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dillard
247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 28 Weak-Side Defensive End in 2017
Jordan Wright enters his Junior season at Kentucky fresh off a breakout 2019 campaign. After redshirting in 2017, Wright played in nine games in 2018, recording four tackles.
In 2019, Wright bursted onto the scene as he played in all 13 games totaled 27 tackles, with six tackles for loss, three sacks, a forced fumble and a team-high tying two fumble recoveries. Perhaps his signature moment came as time expired in the Belk Bowl as he recovered a Virginia Tech fumble and returned it for a game-sealing touchdown.
He will look to build off the momentum he built in 2019 as a Junior.
Class: Redshirt Freshman
Height/Weight: 6-5, 244 lbs.
Hometown/High School: Louisville Ky., Moore
247 Recruit Rankings: 4-star, No. 26 Strong-Side Defensive End in 2019
Louisville native and former four-star recruit J.J. Weaver enters 2020 poised to play a more significant role for the Kentucky defense.
As a true freshman in 2019, Weaver was held to three games to preserve a redshirt season. He totaled six tackles and a quarterback hurry with five of those tackles coming in the Wildcats 38-14 win over Vanderbilt.
Class: Redshirt Freshman
Height/Weight: 6-2, 237 lbs.
Hometown/High School: Tifton, Ga., Tift County
247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 37 Outside Linebacker in 2019
Georgia native K.D. McDaniel enters his redshirt freshman season with the Wildcats poised to turn heads.
McDaniel played in four games in 2019 to preserve a redshirt year. He recorded three tackles and two quarterback hurries all coming in the Cats 50-7 win over U-T Martin.
Height/Weight: 6-4, 246 lbs.
Hometown/High School: Deefield Beach, Fla., McDougle Technical Institute
247 Recruit Rankings: 4-star, No. 11 Strong-Side Defensive End in 2020
Samuel Anaele is a name many Kentucky fans hope to see on the field as a true freshman in 2020. A four-star recruit, Anaele was Kentucky’s second highest-rated recruit in their 2020 signing class only behind Justin Rogers.
He will look to prove himself early but may be held to four games to preserve a redshirt season.
Height/Weight: 6-3, 226 lbs.
Hometown/High School: Jonesboro, Ga., Jonesboro
247 Recruit Rankings: Unranked
Shawn Lawson will enter his Junior year with the Wildcats in 2020.
Lawson practiced with the squad in 2018 and made his collegiate debut against U-T Martin in 2019, recording one tackle in the Kentucky victory.