LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky defensive ends Alvin "Bud" Dupree and Za'Darius Smith could have tried to cash in on impressive junior seasons and entered the NFL draft.
Both ultimately decided they had to more work to do with a Wildcats defense that can certainly use their pass-rushing skills.
Smith and Dupree are back for their senior seasons, good news for Kentucky in many ways. The duo combined for 13 sacks — ranking top-10 individually in that category in the Southeastern Conference — 16 tackles for loss and 120 stops last season.
Dupree and Smith enter Saturday's opener against Tennessee-Martin bigger, stronger and more familiar with Kentucky's 4-3 base scheme. They've also become more vocal leaders following the departure of all-SEC linebacker Avery Williamson, critical for a defense that's still young at many spots.