University of Kentucky cornerback Nate Willis will miss the next three to four months as he recovers from sports hernia surgery.

Willis, a junior-college transfer, had 35 tackles, including two for a loss, and tied for a team-high five pass breakups last season. He started seven games for the Cats and missed the final three with a knee injury.

The 6-foot senior from Pahokee, Fla., was starting to show progress before getting hurt, coaches said.

"It's always hard when you have an injury and you've got to be out, because you miss all those reps," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said.

"That frustration sets in, but you've always got to look at things on a positive note. He knows that he'll be back in time for the season, so he just has got to get the mental reps until then, and then when he comes back, he's just got to be clicking on all cylinders."

Has anyone stepped up as Willis has been out?

"Well, Fred (Tiller) has gotten reps at corner, and Cody Quinn's getting a lot of reps at corner," Eliot continued. "J.D. Harmon has been getting a lot of reps over there.