Missing bowl hurt Locke

KSR's Larry Vaught recently interviewed Derrick Locke, who is expected to be a big piece of the puzzle in the UK backfield this fall. Locke discusses Kentucky's talented backfield, and reveals to Vaught his disappointment in being forced to miss last season's Music City Bowl Championship victory.

Derrick Locke tried to tell everyone that he was fine when he had to miss Kentucky's victory over Florida State in the Music City Bowl because he had a cracked rib and couldn't compete.

Only now will sophomore running back Derrick Locke admit how bitterly disappointed he was and how much harder it was to get back to full speed than he ever imagined.

"The main thing was to get back healthy. At first, even that was kind of rough. My strength went down a lot. I finally got it back, and actually gained a little extra strength back. That's why I knew I was ready to totally take hits and deliver blows when practice started," he said.

"But missing that bowl game hurt me. Of course, I was happy with the win, but I wanted to carry the ball and make a tackle or anything. I didn't get to do anything but stand and watch. So even though we won, I didn't do anything to help us win.

"I hope there are no injuries this year. We have four good backs and hopefully we can get a nice rotation going where everybody can get in there. This is the SEC. One running back can't do it by himself. In the SEC, one running back getting every carry is going to get hurt eventually. Something is going to happen. This is a fast league. You need somebody else to help you out. Just having one guy won't work. He might be superhuman. I don't know. But in this league, you need more running backs. Since we have that, it will be better on the team and our bodies."

Locke believes UK's rotation of Alfonso Smith, Tony Dixon, Moncell Allen and himself could have one premier back if that is what the coaches had wanted to do. "If Tony can get 20 carries, what can he do? What can I do? As long as I am in the game doing what I am doing, it will keep everybody guessing and everybody talking. Who knows? I don't know. All I know is that we have four quality backs who can all contribute," Locke said.

Last year Locke learned valuable lessons from Rafael Little, UK's established running back. Little could have been hesitant to help an incoming freshman like Locke. Instead, he embraced Locke's arrival.

"There could be a freshman come in and take my spot one day. But Rafael didn't care about that. Anything that I needed, he was there for me last year," Locke said. "I am not going to lie about that. He was always telling me what to do right or how to do things. He had great leadership and that was him showing that he wanted the team to be better and for me to be better. If I could get better, then I could push him. That's the way a team has to be.That's probably the greatest lesson he taught me and something I will never forget."

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