LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The Kentucky football team lost some of its key pieces from last season’s secondary unit, headlined by Yusuf Corker who is now in the NFL at New York Giants training camp.

Also losing defensive backs Quandre Mosely and Davonte Robinson, it became clear that other pieces in this unit had to get ready to step up this season.

Carrington Valentine will be relied on as a key returning piece, who made an interception on a pass from Will Levis during the UK Fan Day open practice last weekend. He finished second on the team last year with five pass deflections and four on the team in tackles with 61.

Keidron Smith will be a huge piece in the secondary as well, and a new face after coming to Lexington from the transfer portal. Head coach Mark Stoops snagged the 6’2″ senior out of the portal from Ole Miss, who had five interceptions in his time in Oxford.

Jalen Geiger played 10 games at cornerback last year and got an interception as well, but he could switch over to free safety this season playing next to Tyrell Ajian, the strong safety who got a 95-yard pick-six last year in the Chattanooga game. Ajian was a hard-hitting presence coming down from the back end with Corker, racking up 46 tackles.

The loss of Vito Tisdale is a tough one for defensive coordinator Brad White’s defense, suffering a knee injury in spring ball which will keep him out for the 2022 season. His presence at nickelback will be missed by this unit, but they will continue to trust their depth.

“If you look at the structure of our defense there’s a lot of ways to protect there’s a lot of ways that as a unit we play good together but there comes a time that you have to win one-on-ones and so that time will show up and you’ll know and I’ll know whether they won or lost,” Stoops said.

“Really I think the secondary needs to just do what they do I feel like up front the front seven we got to do our job and in these few days of fall camp that’s what I’ve been trying to get better at is affecting the quarterback because if we affect the quarterback the DB’s don’t have that long to cover so if we’re not getting in there they gotta cover all day and stuff breaks down,” Kentucky graduate-senior linebacker Jacquez Jones said.