VAUGHT: Lumpkin embraces expectations

Ricky Lumpkin knows being redshirted last year was the best thing for his football career. However, he missed playing and the freshman defensive tackle is eager for this season to start even though preseason practice has been extremely difficult at times for him.

"I am still looking forward to playing, but I knew it would be tough. I just am making too many mental mistakes that you can't have. I will improve that. I am going to work on that. I have to get my steps right and get my hands better. That is what camp is for to get better for the season and I will be ready by then," Lumpkin said.

He doesn't mind the huge expectations being placed on him even though he has not played a game yet at Kentucky.

"Of course, everyone would like high expectations but I have to stop messing up. I don't want to mess up and make people mad or what not. I don't want to let people down, especially my parents, because that is just wrong. I am going to keep working to get better," Lumpkin said. "I understand what is expected of me."

"We feel good as a group. We know what we have to do. We have to take double teams for the linebackers. We have to take the blocks off so they can make tackles. They are the ones who have to make tackles so we can win the games, and we know it is our job to get down there and clog up the holes. That is why our defense is going to be better. Our defensive tackles and ends are really working hard to stop the run. We don't want to be down there near the bottom (of the SEC statistics) again. We want to be at the top and be known as a great defense, not just a good defense."

Can Lumpkin make big plays himself to help the defense?

"I am not going to talk about that because I have not played yet. We will see what it is like in a game. I am just going to do my job," Lumpkins said. "If I don't make plays, I know I can still do my job for the linebackers to make tackles. That is why they are there. That is why they are on scholarship. For me, it is to take up blocks and take double teams and if I get a tackle, I get a tackle. I just have to play assignment football."

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