Sam Maxwell now knows that is the role he'll have a chance to fill next season since Johnson has decided to return to Kentucky for his senior season rather than go to the NFL.
That leaves Johnson and Maxwell as UK's two most experienced linebackers going into the 2009 season when the Wildcats will try to earn a fourth straight bowl bid.
"I was always thinking me and Micah would be the guys taking over," Maxwell said. "We talked about things and I understood there were two sides to his situation and there was no way to know what he might do.
"But our coaches have been preparing me for this and told me more and likely I would be the top guy to play out there, so I've been ready for this situation to be able to lead the team and be a leader. We have some freshmen like Danny Trevathan and Will Johnson who are really good. We have some guys that will get a chance to step up and be playmakers next year.
"When new doors open for the older guys, doors open for the younger guys that are still here also. We are just going to get everybody ready and find a strong core. I am planning on Micah being here, but if he's not, that's what you have coaches for. You know things can happen and coaches will coach up the younger guys to make sure we are fine against next year."
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