When talk turns to the Kentucky defense, the front line is portrayed as potentially being one of the best in the Southeastern Conference.
End Jeremy Jarmon and tackles Corey Peters and Myron Pryor are all considered possible NFL players and are being counted on to stop the run and harass the passer.
But what about the other end? That's where senior Nii Adjei Oninku hopes to make a name for himself in his final season. He missed last year with an injury and can't wait to make up for lost time.
"Everything is going well. The knee is holding up and I feel quick off the ball. I have nothing to lose. There is no point in holding back," he said.
He knows backup tackles Ricky Lumpkin, Shane McCord and Chandler Burden are talked about more than him. Even converted tackle Ventrell Jenkins is often mentioned more as a playmaker at end than Oninku.
"I felt last year could be my year and I could make a lot of plays. I feel we would have had a nice combination. I hope this year me, Jarmon and Ventrell can do big things, too," he said. "I know no one mentions me. That is definitely a plus. Everybody is going to be looking at the other end and triple teaming the other guy or doubling up inside. I can sneak in there and make my plays. That is the whole point for me to make plays that way."
He says he lifted more weights than ever during the last year to strengthen his knee so that it was even stronger than his knee that didn't need surgery. He worked so hard that he says he is quicker now than before the injury.
"The hard part of being hurt was knowing I was only going to have one more year left. I have a lot to prove. I want this year to be special," he said.
"This is the last year. It is my senior year and I have nothing to lose at all. I just want to let it all loose. I have worked my butt off to overcome my injury. I am just here to play football.
"I have a lot to prove to myself. I felt I could contribute even more last year. Now knowing that this year's defense has a lot of experience and we are all juniors and seniors, I am just real excited to do all I can every play for this defense."
"Because I don't want to be known as the weak link and the guy that let the defense down," he said. "You don't want people to saying who is that guy and why isn't he is as good as the others."
He knows Louisville likely will test him early.
"Bring it. I love it. That is what I want. That is the whole point of playing," Oninku said.
VAUGHT: Oninku has a lot to prove
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