The Kentucky Wildcats’ secondary took a major hit this week with the announcement that four-star safety Darius West will miss the entire 2014 season with a leg injury, according to a report by the Herald-Leader’s Jennifer Smith.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops confirmed West’s injury Wednesday, saying the safety suffered a “lower leg injury” during Tuesday’s practice. West had sustained two prior injuries to his right leg since June 2013, but Stoops would not confirm whether West’s current injury involved that same leg or not.

West – a 6-foot safety from Lima, Ohio – was a top-10 recruit in the state of Ohio and a top-20 recruit nationally among defensive backs in the class of 2014, according to ESPN, when he signed with Kentucky in February.

He broke his right leg for the first time in June 2013, then broke it again last January and required surgery. Kentucky’s coaching staff knew of West’s injury problems before his arrival in Lexington, but the freshman was still expected to be on the field for the Cats when they begin the season on August 30 against UT Martin.

“At that position, we needed depth, and losing one of those guys is something we didn’t need to happen,” UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot told Smith following Wednesday’s practice.

Seniors Ashely Lowery and Eric Dixon are Kentucky’s top returning safeties and are currently slotted as the team’s starters heading into the 2014 season.

Lowery has registered 105 career tackles and two interceptions in 28 games over the last three seasons while lining up at free safety in the back-end of UK’s defense. Dixon had just nine tackles in seven games prior to last season, but emerged as the team’s starting strong safety in 2013 by playing in all 12 games and recording 54 tackles.