Cats in the NFL
By Nick Roush on ©June 22nd, 2018 @ 4:45pm
Three former University of Kentucky Wildcats will be inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tonight Wesley Woodyard, Guy Morriss and Tommy Bell will be honored at the Lexington Opera House.
Woodyard will be inducted into the Hall of Fame while he’s still playing. Entering his fifth season with the Tennessee Titans and his tenth year overall, last year he was a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Also a member of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame, Woodyard helped the Cats win a pair of Music City Bowls under Rich Brooks and has been named a team captain at every level of football.
Morriss is most well-known for turning a two-win team into a seven-game winner with Jared Lorenzen back in 2002, but the former UK head coach is being honored tomorrow for his accolades in the NFL. A 15-year veteran, he played on the offensive line in New England and started at center in Super XV for the Eagles. Morris briefly returned to the local high school ranks but had to put down the whistle as to battle Alzheimer’s.
Tommy Bell has an undergraduate and law degree from UK. He participated in UK radio broadcasts, served on the athletics board and Board of Trustees. Tomorrow night’s recognition is for his 15 years as an NFL referee. A two-time Super Bowl participant, Bell is the only person to ever officiate a Super Bowl and an NCAA Final Four.
Four current Wildcats — Benny Snell, C.J. Conrad, Josh Allen and Darius West — will also be honored during the ceremony as members of the All-Commonwealth Team. Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. ceremony are still available at http://kyprofootballhof.org/.
By Kindsey Bernhard on ©June 17th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
The former Kentucky linebacker grew up in a large family and always knew he wanted to have one of his one.
Woodyard and his wife, Veronica, are parents to three children: son Greyson, 5, and daughters Noah, 2, and Luca, 1.
Woodyard was five years into this NFL career when Greyson was born. Woodyard was ready for the change.
“I think it changed me by putting things in perspective,” he told Lisa Zimmerman of NFL.com. “Trying to be a good example for them. When you see them, it makes you want to do everything right. Those lessons that you learned in life, whether hard or easy, you want to share it with them. It makes me want to be great.”
The NFL season is a busy one. Woodyard makes sure he spends all his free time with his family.
“You’ve got to make sure every empty space of the day is with them. I can say for the most part I try to give all my time when I’m home to my kids. I try to focus and be the best dad. It’s bigger than the game of football. You don’t want your kids to be like, ‘That’s my dad, the football player,’ I want them to say, ‘That’s my father.’ ”
Woodyard is entering his 11th season in the NFL, his 5th with the Tennessee Titans.
Read more on what it means for Woodyard to be a dad:
Former Kentucky wide receiver Kayaune Ross has been waived by the Indianapolis Colts.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) June 15, 2018
Ross earned a roster spot with an impressive performance at the Colts’ rookie mini-camp, signing with the franchise back on May 18.
After nearly one month on the team, the former Wildcat was cut from the 90-man roster.
The 6-foot-6 receiver caught 16 passes for 219 yards last year for the Cats, building off of an injury-plagued first year at Kentucky. Listed as a junior on the depth chart last July, the coaching staff expected him back for the 2018 season, but his eligibility clock apparently expired this season after enrolling at two junior colleges before getting to Kentucky.
Ross will have to latch on with another franchise to keep his NFL dreams alive.
By Nick Roush on ©May 18th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
Former Kentucky wide receiver Kayaune Ross has signed his first NFL contract. Ross earned the roster spot with an impressive performance at the Colts’ rookie mini-camp.
A junior college transfer, Ross came into his own in 2017 after an injury-plagued first season in Lexington. The 6’6″ wide receiver caught 16 passes for 219 yards last year. The Kentucky coaching staff expected him to use that momentum for an outstanding 2018 season, but his college eligibility ended prematurely.
Instead of preparing to play for UK next season, he’s making money with the Colts and hanging out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a bucket-hat. Not too shabby.
By Nick Roush on ©May 12th, 2018 @ 4:00pm
More than a handful of Kentucky Wildcats are trying to earn a paycheck this weekend at NFL Rookie Mini-Camps.
Each NFL team gets two weekends to host camps for prospective and signed first-year players. A few Wildcats got a head start last weekend. Offensive tackle Kyle Meadows, who has already signed a free agency deal with the Green Bay Packers, was one of the first on the field. Matt Elam also got in on the action with the Baltimore Ravens.
Like Elam, Courtney Love is looking for a contract. Last weekend the former UK team captain tried out for the Browns. The linebacker told Steelers Depot he’s on Browns’ wait list. While he waits for the call, this weekend Love is trying out for his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Today four Wildcats are playing for a contract. Kendall Randolph is trying out for the Philadelphia Eagles, Kayaune Ross for the Indianapolis Colts, Chuck Walker with the Detroit Lions and Austin MacGinnis with the Chicago Bears. MacGinnis will have some Kentucky company with him, but Juice Johnson has already signed a free agency deal with Chicago.
On behalf of KSR, best of luck to all of the Cats as they pursue their NFL dream.
Matt Elam’s football career isn’t over just yet.
The former UK defensive tackle, one of the most-prized signees of the Mark Stoops’ era, has accepted an invite to participate in the Baltimore Ravens’ rookie mini-camp.
Elam and all the other NFL hopefuls will report to their respective mini-camps either this coming weekend or the next, depending how each individual team decides to do it.
Rookie mini-camps are a three-day event featuring somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60 players, drawn from draft picks, undrafted free agents, mini-camp invitees and other prospects seeking an opportunity in the league.
In Elam’s case, he’s trying out for a team that already had a Matt Elam on its roster for three seasons, so maybe they could stretch the old Elam’s jersey out and go ahead and give it to the Kentucky Elam. Elam will also have a former UK teammate in Za’Darius Smith there to help fight for him.
Kayaune Ross has earned an opportunity to make an NFL roster. The 6’6″ Kentucky wide receiver has accepted an invitation to the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie mini-camp.
Another one of Ross’ fellow receivers, Charles Walker, will participate in the Packers’ mini-camp. Linebacker Courtney Love will camp with the Browns and Austin MacGinnis will camp with the Bears.
Accepting a rookie mini-camp invitation is different than those who signed free agency deals. Juice Johnson signed with the Bears and Kyle Meadows signed with the Packers. They have a contract, which gives them a better shot at moving on to the next stage toward the 53-man roster. Those who simply camp receive a stipend to attend, but have to fight even harder to receive a contract and make the next round of cuts.
The Mac will try out with the Monsters of the Midway.
Kentucky placekicker Austin MacGinnis has signed with the Chicago Bears and will attend their Rookie Mini-Camp. Finding a roster spot won’t be easy for UK’s all-time leading scorer. This offseason the Bears signed free agent kicker Cody Parkey to a four-year deal with $9 million guaranteed.
Parkey’s stats with the Dolphins were solid, but stats are losers. For kickers, all that matters are game-winners, and MacGinnis has a few of those.
Former Kentucky linebacker Bud Dupree is in Pittsburgh to stay…for two more years, at least. This morning, the Steelers announced they have exercised the fifth-year option from Dupree’s rookie contract. He will earn $9.232 million for the 2019 season, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.
“It’s good news,” said Dupree in a release. “I get another two years with my teammates, which will be fun. It’s two more chances to win the Super Bowl. It’s a great time.”
The Steelers took Dupree with the 22nd pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, and in three seasons, he’s started 24 of 38 games, including 15 last season. Over three seasons, he’s accumulated 90 tackles, 67 solo, 14.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Last year, he had 40 tackles and a career-high six sacks, helping Pittsburgh to a record 56 sacks. Never satisfied, Dupree said they can do even more.
“We are capable of doing a lot more,” said Dupree. “We can be the best. That is what our goal is. That’s what everyone went into this offseason with. Everybody believes in themselves. We just have to make sure we go out there and take it one game at a time, one practice at a time and focus on our strengths, and our weaknesses.”
Last night’s news that Avery Williamson is leaving the Titans for the Jets was a little sad for us Titans fans, but it makes total sense when you see the money he’s getting to move to New York.
Tennessee offered Avery a four-year $12 million contract to stay with the Titans, but according to Ian Rapoport, the Jets are giving him a three-year, $22.5 million contract with $16 million guaranteed.
Avery’s one of the most promising young inside linebackers in the league, so kudos to him for getting the money he deserves. His tweet last night says it all:
— Avery Williamson (@AWilliamson54) March 14, 2018
And now, for an NFL update that makes this Tennessee Titans fan sad. According to Ian Rapoport, Avery Williamson has agreed to a deal with the New York Jets. Williamson was drafted by the Titans back in 2014, but upon free agency, turned down a four-year, $12 million deal to stay in Nashville in search of a better offer, which he’s apparently found.
Avery was one of the top inside linebackers on the market, with 92 tackles (52 solo), three sacks, and two forced fumbles last season for the Titans. It will suck to not have him in Nashville next season, but best of luck to him in New York.