Throughout the offseason, Kentucky football added numerous transfers who are all likely to make an impact this fall, with Daveren Rayner among the more notable names of that group. An inside linebacker who transfers from Northern Illinois, just how big of an impact could Rayner have with the Wildcats in 2023?
Kentucky Football 2023 Season Preview: ILB Daveren Rayner
Taking a look back at Rayner’s career prior to Kentucky, the inside linebacker was originally rated as a three-star prospect in the 2020 class, where he attended Lawrence Central High School in Indiana. As mentioned previously as well, Rayner would not begin his collegiate career in the SEC at Kentucky, but attended Northern Illinois of the MAC out of high school.
Once with the Huskies, Rayner would go on to start in five-of-six games he played as a freshman, amassing 27 tackles with two TFL, one sack, and three PD. Rayner would also go on to post what was a similar stat-line in 2021 as a sophomore, compiling 30 tackles with a TFL and a sack.
As for last season, Rayner is coming off a breakout 2022 campaign at Northern Illinois, one where he compiled 71 tackles with 5.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks for the Huskies.
Having entered the transfer portal at seasons end as well, where he would eventually transfer to Kentucky, what will the 2023 season hold for the senior with the Wildcats?
Kentucky ILB Daveren Rayner 2023 Season Prediction: 45 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks
Rated as a three-star transfer according to 247Sports, Rayner could potentially not begin the year as a starter for the Wildcats, as Kentucky returns two prominent names from a year ago in the duo of D’Eyrk Jackson and Trevin Wallace, both of which ranked top five on the team in tackles.
However, Rayner is still likely to be a prominent player at inside linebacker for the Wildcats during the 2023 season, one who could even start games at some point in the year.
Coming to Lexington with a career stat line of 128 tackles, 8.5 TFL, and 5.5 sacks, Rayner adds a notable amount of experience to Kentucky’s inside linebacker room, and is a versatile athlete at 6-foot-2, 217 pounds who can play multiple roles at the position. Yes, the jump in competition from the MAC to the SEC will be a big one, but Rayner is still very capable of having a strong season at Kentucky.
Overall, expect Rayner to have that strong season for the Wildcats as well, and for the Northern Illinois transfer to amass at-least 40 tackles this fall.