Lindley's return gives Kentucky's defense a boost

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Nobody in the SEC was hurt more by juniors leaving early for the NFL draft than Georgia.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford, running back Knowshon Moreno and cornerback Asher Allen are all gone.

The antithesis of the Bulldogs, though, was Kentucky, which went 3-for-3 and managed to hold onto three key defenders. Cornerback Trevard Lindley, a first-team All-SEC selection, completed the sweep Wednesday when he announced that he was returning for his senior season.

Earlier, defensive end Jeremy Jarmon and middle linebacker Micah Johnson announced they would be back for their senior seasons. Johnson was a first-team All-SEC selection by the coaches, while Jarmon ranks third in school history with 17.5 sacks.

What this all means is that Kentucky should have one of the better defenses in the SEC next season. The Wildcats finished 40th nationally in total defense last season, and despite some injuries during the middle portion of the season, it's a unit that would easily rank as the best defense Rich Brooks has had at Kentucky.

The 2009 unit also has a chance to be extremely good, especially with Lindley coming back. He's the kind of lock-down cornerback who gives a defensive coordinator the flexibility to do different things with his front seven.

Lindley was not 100 percent down the stretch last season with a shoulder injury and then injured his elbow in the bowl game and sat out the second half. He still led the SEC in passes defended.