Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops has faced enough issues losing two quarterbacks to transfer. He’s also had to rearrange his staff after a second straight 5-7 record, stemming after a great start. Now Stoops was forced to dismiss defensive end Jason Hatcher from the team yesterday after being arrested for marijuana trafficking. Hatcher led all defensive ends with 39 total tackles in seven games as a junior last season. He was eighth on the team in total tackles and was tied for second in sacks with two for 16 yards.
Hatcher and Louisville wide receiver James Quick were both previously arrested together for marijuana possession in 2014. Both had their charges dropped as they participated in a marijuana intervention program. Quick was able to turn his career around under Bobby Petrino, recording 1,263 yards and eight touchdowns in his three years at Louisville. Quick is currently on the 2016 roster as the second leading receiver and the leader in receiving touchdowns heading into Spring.
Hatcher leaves behind a three year career total of 87 total tackles and five and a half sacks. The next defensive end to step up is Denzil Ware, who was tied in total tackles along with Hatcher. Junior safety Marcus McWilson will most likely be the number one man on the depth chart as far as tackles is concerned. Stoops currently has five defensive ends on the Spring roster, including two from National Signing Day. But however, losing Hatcher won’t be the only issue.
Stoops has lost his top three tacklers to the NFL Draft, which leaves McWilson as the veteran leader heading into Spring, production wise. Overall, six of the top 10 tacklers have either graduated or moved onto to the NFL. With Hatcher now gone, it’s up to defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot and defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh to build up some depth during Spring practice.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Bryan Law