Less than a week into preseason practice, Kentucky football’s defensive secondary has lost another possible contributor.
Junior Joel Williams, who ended spring practice as one of the top candidates to replace injured Vito Tisdale at nickel back, will transfer out of the program, a UK spokeswoman confirmed Monday. Williams appeared in seven games last season mostly on special teams. He totaled two tackles.
A former four-star recruit in the class of 2020, the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native enrolled early at Kentucky then played in nine of 10 games as a freshman. He was one of six players who missed time early last season during an investigation into a fight involving football players and members of a UK fraternity at an off-campus party, but burglary charges against Williams and his teammates were later dropped, clearing them to return to the team.
When Tisdale suffered what is expected to be a season-ending knee injury in spring practice, Williams was one of the first players mentioned by Coach Mark Stoops as a candidate to take on a larger role.
“He’s doing a really good job at that position,” Stoops said. “When you’re asking me about the versatility, we don’t have somebody who can do (what Tisdale did) but as far as playing that spot, Joel has done a nice job with the nickel, medium position. So yes, we’re going to count on him a lot, and we’ve got to bring some others along.”
However, after spring practice, Kentucky added four transfers to boost depth in the secondary. Among that group, Texas State transfer Zion Childress is expected to see some playing time at nickel back. Stoops also mentioned highly touted freshman Alex Afari as a candidate to play there on Media Day.