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The XFL is Back: Which Wildcats Would Make McMahon’s League Great?

The XFL is Back: Which Wildcats Would Make McMahon’s League Great?

After much speculation, this afternoon Vince McMahon made it official: the XFL will return in 2020.

Tagged as “professional football reimagined,” few details have been shared.  We don’t know where the teams will play, who will broadcast the games, if the rules will change or if it will work the second time around.  What we can do is speculate which former Kentucky Wildcats will play against Johnny Manzeil (who will surely be the league’s poster boy).

Jared Lorenzen

He’ll need McMahon to bring some serious cash to the table to buy out his KSR Football Podcast contract, but if that happens, Jared has already begun his offseason training.

Patrick Towles

Lorenzen isn’t the only Mr. Football from Highlands to throw his hat in the ring.

Boom Williams

Branding will not be a problem for Boom.  Just slap that name on the back of a jersey and sit his Dad in the front row.  Gimmicks aside, he actually could be the explosive, playmaking star McMahon’s league needs.

JoJo Kemp

Even though JoJo has another job in football, now an assistant at Dunbar High School, I think the money might be just a little bit better with McMahon as his employer.  JoJo has the build to withstand the brutality and he’d be a spectacular promoter for the league.  He changed the game at Kentucky.  I think he can change the game in the XFL.

Art Still

The former All-American will be 65 in 2020, but have you seen him?!?!?  That dude looks like he could dominate college football today.

C.J. “Poop” Johnson

The former Kentucky defensive lineman never lasted in the NFL because of his size, but he’s proved in the CFL he still has the explosiveness to succeed.  The only thing bigger than his game and his hair is his personality.  Since his first summer camp interview at UK made the Late Night Shows, he’s taken on the Poop persona.  He’s probably taken it too far with the #Poopmane hashtag on his Instagram account, but it probably plays well to the XFL audience.

Jason Hatcher

The edge rusher from Trinity never had a problem making plays on the field, he just got in trouble off the field.  Kicked off Kentucky’s team after a marijuana trafficking arrest, pot will probably not be an issue in McMahon’s XFL.  After UK, Hatcher continued to play and the last we heard from him in September, he was still working to find a football home.  That home just might be the XFL.


Hopefully Kentucky’s fourth all-time leading receiver will find an NFL home this fall.  If not, I think Garrett Johnson can enjoy plenty of drinks in XFL end zones.

The UK Football Spring Game is Set for Friday the 13th

Save the Date for April 13, 2018.

The University of Kentucky has announced the football team will hold its annual Blue/White Scrimmage under the lights at Kroger Field on Friday April 13 at 6:30 p.m.  A year after the event ran into with Easter weekend, the administration found a perfect time to hold the spring game, so long as Jason Voorhees is not in attendance.  That weekend is a Keeneland weekend and it’s also Parents’ Weekend.

Once again, tickets to the game will be free.  Season ticket holders will have first dibs on February 19, followed by the general public a week later on February 26.

Last year 37,172 fans were in the stands to watch the Cats on a Friday night.  The spring game attendance record of 50,381 was set just months after Stoops was hired in 2013.

UK Front Seven’s Tackles for Loss and QB Sacks

UK Front Seven’s Tackles for Loss and QB Sacks

Is there a direct correlation between accumulated tackles for loss and wins? How about QB sacks? Kentucky finished 12th in the SEC with 63 tackles for loss which is six lower than its 2016 total (69). Noticeably, the Cats increased its QB sack total from 21 in 2016 to 30 in 2017. This post will address the front seven. Secondary analysis to follow.

Let’s take a look at the data: 


Tackles for Loss

QB Sacks

@Southern Miss






@South Carolina






Eastern Michigan






@Miss State






Ole Miss
















Average Number of TFL’s per Win/Loss

-Wins: 5.85 tackles for loss per win. 

-Losses: 3.66 per loss.

Average Number of QB Sacks per Win/Loss

-Wins: 3.2 QB sacks per win.

-Loss: 1.16 per loss.


Kentucky averaged 2.19 more tackles for loss in victories than in losses. It also totaled 2.04 more quarterback sacks in wins. So, both categories greatly factor in the Win/Loss category. The Cats had its most explosive conference games against Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Its lowest defensive explosive play contests occurred in UK’s worst two losses vs. Georgia and Louisville.

All SEC outside linebacker Josh Allen was constantly fighting double-teams and sliding protections during certain-pass downs. With a defensive line that at times struggled, the X factor for Matt House’s unit was the Jack Linebacker position (Denzil Ware/Josh Paschal).  It must be noted that Denzil Ware was an all-conference performer and was twice named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week and Josh Paschal is a rising star within the Southeastern Conference. The duo’s numbers in UK’s two games with the highest TFL/QB sack production were elevated. The two combined for 3 QB sacks and 3 TFL’s vs. Vanderbilt. Earlier in the season they racked up 2.5 TFL and 1.5 QB sacks against Tennessee. Conversely, Ware/Paschal recorded zero tackles for loss and zero quarterback sacks in Kentucky’s lowest two explosive-statistical performances against Georgia and Louisville. These numbers (both positive and negative) are by no means solely on Josh Paschal and Denzil Ware. 2018 could see significant statistical increases and consistencies for both players but they will need a drastic improvement from their line-of-scrimmage mates.

Linebacker Totals (Returning Players)



Tackles for Loss

QB Sacks

Denzil Ware

OLB (Jack)



Josh Paschal

OLB (Jack)



Josh Allen




Jordan Jones




Boogie Watson




Eli Brown




UK failed to establish a consistent, disruptive pressure from its interior defensive linemen which significantly lessens edge defender’s efficiency. Kentucky has to become more troublesome for opposing offensive lines from its organic three defensive linemen within the 3-4 scheme. A healthy and year older Quinton Bohanna can be an answer. He could potentially receive help from true freshman Marquan McCall. Other than Bohanna, the nose tackle position failed to meet expectation in 2017 and was at times a liability. Defensive ends TJ Carter, Kengera Daniel, and Calvin Taylor Jr. must increase the position’s explosive numbers and beyond line-of-scrimmage disorder. Defensive tackle Adrian Middleton is now a senior. Mark Stoops needs him to produce as such. Kordell Looney showed flashes in his first season and should benefit from experience. Rising senior Tymere Dubose played his best game as a Wildcat in the Music City Bowl. Dubose has all the tools to star. If he does or not lies squarely on his shoulders.

Defensive Line Totals (Returning Players)



Tackles for Loss

QB Sacks

Adrian Middleton




TJ Carter




Calvin Taylor




Kengera Daniel




Tymere Dubose




Kordell Looney




Regardless of the how and by whom; the Kentucky defense must figure out a way to increase its tackles for loss totals and continue to rise in its number of QB sacks. Much of the blame for UK’s 13th place pass defense was laid at the feet of its secondary. A portion of that was warranted and will be addressed at a later time. However, the truth of the matter is that pass defense is an 11-man operation. With 10/11 defensive starters returning; it’s mandatory that the front seven improve in these two statistical categories.

Top Ten Plays from the 2017 UK Football Season, No. 10: Scoop and Score

Over the coming weeks, we’ll look back at the best plays from the 2017 season.  Finding ten great ones used to be tough, because the Cats weren’t making enough jaw-droppers.  This year it was difficult because there were so many.  See which ones made the cut, starting with No. 10.  

Kentucky’s Blitz Bros exploded onto the scene in the season opener at Southern Miss.

As the UK offense struggled in their first drives of the season, held to just 254 total yards, the defense picked up the slack.  The Wildcats recovered three fumbles and turned them into points.

The most impressive defensive play of the game turned out to be the game-winning score.  A blitzing Darius West caught Southern Miss quarterback Kwadre Griggs by surprise out of the read option.  Returning from injury after more than a year on the sideline, West put his head in the perfect position — right on the football.  The ball squirted free for Denzil Ware to scoop it and run 20 yards for the score.

Ware was named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week after he recorded 2 tackles, a tackle for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.  His Blitz Bro Josh Allen added a 5 tackles, 3 for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry.  The group’s newcomer, Josh “Blitz Baby” Paschal, only made one play to get into the box score, but his massive hit at the goal line should have been worth much more.

Kentucky’s defense started the season on the right foot by shutting down C-USA’s No. 3 offense on their home field.  Even though inconsistencies kept the Cats from becoming a shut down defense, they were good enough to carry Kentucky to two tough road wins in 2017.

The Construction of Kentucky’s 2018 Depth Chart

If 2017 taught me anything, it’s that January’s projected depth chart can take on a whole new look come September. Unexpected attrition played a tremendous role in last season’s win/loss category.

But what if Kentucky had a game this week? Who would be in your starting lineup? The following list would be my best guess regarding the starting lineup if the Cats had a fictitious game on January 27.


Position Name Recruiting Class
Quarterback Gunnar Hoak 2016
Running Back Benny Snell Jr. 2016
Tight End CJ Conrad 2015
Receiver Lynn Bowden 2017
Receiver Tavin Richardson 2015
Receiver Dorian Baker 2014
Right Tackle George Asafo-Adjei 2015
Right Guard Bunchy Stallings 2014
Center Drake Jackson 2016
Left Guard Logan Stenberg 2015
Left Tackle Landon Young 2016

*Bold=Returning Starter


Position Name Recruiting Class
Linebacker Denzil Ware 2014
Linebacker Josh Allen 2015
Linebacker Kash Daniel 2016
Linebacker Jordan Jones 2015
Nose Tackle Quinton Bohanna 2017
Defensive Tackle Adrian Middleton 2014
Defensive End TJ Carter 2016
Cornerback Derrick Baity 2015
Cornerback Lonnie Johnson 2017
Safety Mike Edwards 2014
Safety Darius West 2014

*Bold=Returning Starter


Position Name Recruiting Class
Punter Max Duffy 2018
Kicker Chance Poore 2018
Punt Returner Lynn Bowden 2017
Kick Returner Lynn Bowden 2017

*Bold=Returning Starter

According to this list, the Class of 2015 would have produced the most starters with seven. It’s followed by 2014 with six, 2016 six, 2017 five, and 2018 two. What does this tell us?

2014: Six Starters

— The offense is down to two 2014 signees: Bunchy Stallings and Dorian Baker. Stallings redshirted and Baker was forced to sit out this past season due to an injury. Both have produced at a high level and will be sorely missed after this upcoming season.

— The defense has the highest number of 14 members with four: OLB Denzil Ware, DT Adrian Middleton, and safeties Mike Edwards/Darius West. Edwards and Ware are All-SEC performers. This class will produce NFL players from the aforementioned defenders.

2015: Seven Starters

— I’m on record as saying that the Class of 2015 was Mark Stoops’ best during his stay in Lexington. I’m going to stay true to that claim.

Currently, four offensive starters inked in ’15: Logan Stenberg, George Asafo-Adjei, Tavin Richardson, and CJ Conrad.

— Defense is more difficult to project as ’15 member Chris Westry started the majority of early games but Lonnie Johnson started the final four. All-SEC Linebackers Jordan Jones and Josh Allen are joined by Derrick Baity as first teamers. The Class of 2015 will produce NFL players in next year’s Draft.

2016: Six Starters

— 2015 is my top class; 2016 is a close second. Again, this depth chart is constructed on the premise that UK has a game this week. So, based on experience and working knowledge of Eddie Gran’s offense, QB Gunnar Hoak gets my nod under center. Hoak is joined by All-SEC RB Benny Snell and two offensive linemen: Landon Young and Drake Jackson. UK’s offensive line began to play at a higher level when Jackson solidified the center position. Snell is the most celebrated player on the team and is entering his junior season in Lexington. 2018 may or may not be his last year at UK. He should be considered for All-American status as well as being on a plethora of postseason award watch lists.

— Defense: LB Kash Daniel is penciled as Courtney Love’s predecessor. Defensive end TJ Carter started every game in 2017.

2017: Five Starters

— Receiver Lynn Bowden is the lone offensive starter. Bowden also takes up two spots on special teams by projecting as both the kick and punt returner. His status at three positions skews this class’s numbers.

— NT Quinton Bohanna was a tremendous find and sign. The sky is the limit for the Tennessee native. Cornerback Lonnie Johnson showed strides late in 2017. But, cornerback on both sides of the field has to increase.

2018: Two Starters

— All special teams. Punter Max Duffy and Kicker Chance Poore are early odds starters in Dean Hood’s kicking game.

What does all this mean?

Our guess work in relation to the 2018 depth chart shows a nice variation of class mixtures; however, Kentucky will lose several impactful players to the NFL and graduation following the upcoming season. Continued recruiting and developing depth behind long-time starters will be critical during this offseason. The good news is that the Cats will be veteran laden and sport experience at all positions other than quarterback, kicker, punter, and inside linebacker. All four new starter positions are critically important and will influence the 2018 Win/Loss column. Successful development during spring practice and summer workouts are fundamental.

Football Never Ends.

Graphic by UK Athletics

UK Football announces five mid-year enrollees

Graphic by UK Athletics

Even though they’ve been on campus for a few weeks now, UK just announced the five players who joined the team mid-year: Aussie punter Max Duffy, cornerback Stanley Garner, linebacker DeAndre Square, cornerback Domonique Williams, and quarterback Terry Wilson.

Garner and Square graduated high school in December while Duffy, Wilson, and Williams are all transfers. Duffy and Wilson will have three years of eligibility remaining while Williams will have two. All five players will join the team in offseason workouts and spring practice. A UK spokesman confirmed to Joe Mussatto that three-star linebacker Ashton Pierre, who was also expected to enroll early, will arrive this summer instead.

Complete bios from UK under the jump…


Former Arkansas Assistant Michael Smith will Replace Lamar Thomas as Wide Receivers Coach


Mark Stoops has made his first assistant coaching hire of the offseason.

Former Arkansas assistant Michael Smith will beome the Wildcats’ next wide receivers coach, according to Zach Barnett of Football Scoop.  Smith will replace Lamar Thomas after spending five seasons on Bret Bielema’s staff.

Smith previously worked with Stoops at Arizona.  He coached the running backs for a year and the receivers for another year, while Stoops called plays on the other side of the ball as his brother’s defensive coordinator.

Smith spent most of his coaching career working for his alma mater, Kansas State.  On the field, Smith was one of the best receivers to ever play in the Big Eight conference, finishing his career as the Big Eight’s second-leading receiver.  Smith was a Third Team All-American in 1991 and an honorable mention selection in 1989.  As a coach, he’s become a well-respected recruiter for finding talented players in the state of Louisiana.

Matt Jones talks to Stephen Johnson about life after football on Hey Kentucky!

Matt Jones talks to Stephen Johnson about life after football on Hey Kentucky!

Last week, former Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson announced his retirement from the game of football on Hey Kentucky.

Today, Matt Jones sat down with No. 15 on Hey Kentucky to talk about life after football, his favorite moments as a Wildcat, and his decision to stay in Lexington.

As an added bonus, we found out Johnson may be helping out with KSR football coverage next season, something the BBN can certainly be excited for. (Okay, maybe I am too.)

Take a look at the entire interview below:

To watch the entire episode of Hey Kentucky, head here:

Larry Warford is a Pro Bowler

Parker Waters

Former Kentucky offensive lineman Larry Warford is going to the Pro Bowl.  The New Orleans Saints offensive guard became an alternate after Eagles offensive guard Brandon Brooks clinched a Super Bowl berth.

The Pro Bowl appearance is the first for the Madison Central product.  A five-year NFL veteran, he spent his first four years in Detroit.  In his NFL debut, the fourth round pick earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors from Pro Football Focus for not allowing one sack all season.

You can see Warford wearing No. 67 in the Pro Bowl from Orlando this Sunday at 3:00 on ESPN.

Ohio recruiting analyst likes Kentucky’s chances with Peters and Oats

We are just a few weeks from college football’s second National Signing Day on February 7, and with four scholarships remaining, the Kentucky Wildcats have the opportunity to finish the class of 2018 strong.

Two of the most crucial pieces remaining for the Cats are four-star commitment Xavier Peters and four-star outside linebacker Chris Oats, but questions surrounding their recruitments have been a worry for UK fans.

Peters has been committed to Kentucky since July of last year, but after failing to sign during the early period, and recent scheduled visits to Florida, Florida State, and Miami, it looked like a decommitment was inevitable.

For Oats, a Cincinnati, Ohio native, there was a time Kentucky seemed like the consensus favorite in his recruitment. KSR reported just a week ago that UK safety Mike Edwards was actively recruiting Oats to Kentucky, and Oats was extremely interested in playing with the fellow Winton Woods product.

After Ohio State confirmed Oats as a “take” for the Buckeyes this week, and contact heated up between both parties, many felt the talented four-star would play for the local powerhouse school.

According to Ohio recruiting analyst and insider Bill Greene, however, Kentucky is still in great shape with both prospects.

“I think Kentucky is in really good shape to sign (Peters),” Greene told Derek Terry of the Cats Pause. “If there is a threat then it’s definitely Florida. I think (Florida State and Miami) are just window dressing.”

Greene believes Peters’ relationship with Kentucky commitments also plays in UK’s favor.

“I think he has better relationships with the kids in the Kentucky program. There’s a lot of guys on that roster he knows and guys coming in with him that he knows,” he said.

As for Oats, there’s always pressure for recruits from Ohio with offers from OSU to become Buckeyes, but his relationship with Kentucky assistant Vince Marrow may win out in the end.

“I just did an interview with Chris earlier this week where he called that relationship like a father-son relationship and talked about how much he trusted Coach Marrow,” Greene said. “Just going off past history I think (Ohio State) can clip him, but if he does go ahead and sign with Kentucky that would not shock me at all because of the relationship he has with Coach Marrow.”

Getting one or both of these guys to sign in February  would be massive.

Bring em on home, Stoops.

YAHTZEE! 2018 three-star WR LiAllen Dailey commits to KENTUCKY

How about some good news to close out your weekend?

2018 three-star WR LiAllen Dailey has committed to KENTUCKY!

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver out of Pinson, AL chose the Wildcats over Louisville, Arkansas State, and Toledo, among others.

Dailey received an offer from Kentucky on January 9, and scheduled an official visit to Lexington for this weekend soon after.

After checking out campus since Friday afternoon, Dailey decided the bluegrass was home.

Here was the announcement:

Dailey finished with 80 receptions for 1,441 yards and 23 touchdowns for Pinson Valley this past year, leading the team to a state championship in the process. lists the newest Wildcat as the No. 94 wide receiver in the nation.

Watch his senior highlight tape below:

Welcome home, LiAllen!

WATCH: The Ultimate Blitz Bros Highlight Reel

Two of the best pass rushers to ever play football at the University of Kentucky will be back for one more season in 2018.  The Blitz Bros, Josh Allen and Denzil Ware, have their eyes set on rewriting the UK record book while grooming Blitz Baby, Josh Pashcal.

Bradley McKee, KSTV’s B-Roll King, is one of the best in the biz.  He proved it once again by compiling this fantastic highlight reel that features enough sack lunches to feed a family of five for a month.

When Josh Allen committed to Kentucky, he looked like this:

Now he looks like this:


Example A of Player Development under Mark Stoops.

Five Things Kentucky Football Must Find Before Spring Practice

1. Two Assistant Coaches

And one of the will probably not be Ed Reed.  It would be a fantastic hire, but at this point adding Reed as UK’s tenth assistant is wishful thinking.  More importantly, Mark Stoops needs to find an excellent wide receivers coach to replace Lamar Thomas.  Who that might be remains a mystery, but the four receivers from the 2017 class have a ton of talent that cannot go to waste.

2. A Way to Keep Xavier Peters’ Commitment

Arguably the toughest task at hand, Vince Marrow has to find a way to prevent the All-American linebacker from falling in love on official visits.  He’ll be at Florida this weekend, Florida State next weekend and Miami the following weekend.  Marrow is the king of building bonds early in the recruiting process.  Hopefully his bond with Peters is too strong for Florida football powerhouses to break.

3. A Running Back

Bryant Koback’s sudden departure leaves just four players in the running back room this fall — Benny Snell, Sihiem King, A.J. Rose and incoming freshman Chris Rodriguez.  2018 will likely be King and Snell’s final season at Kentucky.  Stoops must add at least one player on National Signing Day.  Stoops hopes that one player is on campus this weekend, Kavosiey Smoke.

Smoke is a big badass and it’s not just because of his name (well, kind of).  The No. 29 running back in America is a bruiser who earned All-State honors in Alabama.  UK’s toughest competition is North Carolina and Auburn.  Stoops must get a running back and Smoke is his best remaining option.

4. Leadership

The only Team Captain that will return in 2018 is Mike Edwards.  The offense lost five starters and the defense lost just two starters, but two of those losses are big ones: Courtney Love and Stephen Johnson.  They brought a calming presence and called plays on the field.  Off the field they were an example for all of the underclassmen.

Becoming a leader is atypical; the best leaders have innate qualities that set them apart from the pack.  One person I expect to set the tone as he returns to the team is C.J. Conrad.  Benny Snell’s work ethic leads by example, but can he become a vocal leader on the offense?  The ideal defensive leader is the middle linebacker.  If Kash Daniel can speak to his teammates on the field as well as he can into a wrestling ring microphone, the defense should be in good hands.

5. Consistency

Stoops has “knocked down doors” through consecutive seven-win seasons.  The reason there wasn’t an eight or nine-win season is because of consistency.  You can’t be consistent in October unless you’re consistently doing your job the right way every single day in January and February.

For the Kentucky football program to knock down another door and take the next step as a program, they must transform offseason consistency onto the field this fall.

JoJo Kemp has a Coaching Job

JoJo Kemp’s got a brand new gig.

The former Kentucky running back will return to the football field as a coach.  This fall Kemp will coach running backs for Wes Johnson at Dunbar High School.  JoJo will join another Wildcat on the staff, former UK wide receiver Alex Montgomery.

In four years at Kentucky, the Deland, Florida product rushed for 19 touchdowns and 1,709 yards (5.05 yards per carry), good enough to crack the Top 15 of Kentucky’s all-time rushing list.  The statistical mark he left on the program is incomparable to the moment he created after the Cats upset Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks in 2014.

How could you not want to play for that guy?

The Ironmen of Kentucky Football

Kentucky is projected to return 16 or 17 starters depending on which depth chart is used as a baseline. The Cats featured nine players that started all 13 games in 2017.

Let’s take a look the Wildcat Ironmen.


QB | Stephen Johnson

As could be heard on Kentucky Sports Radio, Johnson played through injuries during the 2017 season and could be considered as the Ultimate Ironman. Injuries incurred during his two-year career as the Wildcat starting quarterback will require three surgeries. Stephen Johnson was Eddie Gran’s offensive compass and will be difficult to replace. Gunnar Hoak, Terry Wilson, Danny Clark, or Walker Wood will try to feel the leadership void created upon Johnson’s departure. With key surrounding pieces returning, the 2018 QB competition will garner headlines and will be under constant scrutiny.

RB | Benny Snell

With an early departure to the NFL as a possibility, the SEC’s regular season rushing leader will return to Kroger Field for what could perhaps be his last collegiate season. The rising junior is practically rewriting the program’s record book and is becoming the standard for which all future UK running backs will be judged. An offseason development will involve developing and/or recruiting a running back to lessen the load for the star runner. I’ve learned to not doubt Benny Snell. 2018 could be another special season for the All-SEC performer. He should be on All-American and postseason honors watch lists.

G | Logan Stenberg

The former Freshman All-SEC Guard will be a junior in 2018. He served as Stephen Johnson’s primary care taker and is developing into an upper-level SEC offensive lineman. John Schlarman’s interior offensive line made late strides in 2017. Center Drake Jackson and fellow guard Bunchy Stallings will join Stenberg to comprise a veteran and stable OL nucleus.

WR | Garrett Johnson

“Juice” departs as the program’s 5th all-time leading pass catcher and 4th in receiving yards. His rise up statistical record books wasn’t properly discussed throughout the season. Johnson’s experience and uncanny ability to move the chains on 3rd down will be missed.

DE | TJ Carter

Losing Alvonte Bell in the preseason created an opening for the rising junior to become a full-time starter at defensive end. Carter finished 2017 with 18 Tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 QB sacks, 2 QB hurries, and 1 pass breakup. An area of defensive concern is its low number of tackles for loss (63). TJ Carter will be tasked to increase that statistical category and pass rush from his defensive end position.

DT | Adrian Middleton

Middleton will be a senior. He’s been a surprising stabilizer along the defensive front. The Bowling Green native racked up 25 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 QB sack in 2017. His total tackle number dropped from 35 in 2016. See above TJ Carter statement. Middleton will be asked to increase the team’s tackle for loss total next season as well as enhancing its organic front three’s pass rush.

OLB | Josh Allen

The All-SEC and Midseason All-American declined an early NFL entry to stay in Lexington for a senior campaign. Consistent production next fall could catapult Allen into a high-round pick. He racked up 65 tackles, 7 QB sacks, 9.5 TFL’s, 1 INT, forced 2 fumbles, 3 pass breakups, and 4 QB hurries in 17. Increased interior defensive line pressure will prevent opposing offenses from sliding protection to counter Josh Allen’s edge rush. However, I’d expect opponents to continue game planning in order to slow him in certain passing downs.

MLB | Courtney Love

What a man. What a leader. Much like Stephen Johnson; Courtney Love will be difficult to replace both on and off the field. 2017 numbers: 92 tackles, 3.5 TFL’s, 1 QB sack, 2 recovered fumbles, and 2 pass breakups. Love maintained a constant presence in the middle of the Wildcat defense for two seasons. His total tackle number raised from 76 in 2016 to 92 in 2017. He finished his senior season as the SEC’s 11th leading tackler.

S | Mike Edwards

Surprisingly, Mike Edwards joined Josh Allen in deciding to return to Kentucky and not enter the NFL Draft. The All SEC selection is one of the league’s most productive defenders: 97 tackles, 4 INT’s, 1 QB sack, 4 TFL’s (SEC-2nd), 1 QB hurry, and 6 pass breakups. The SEC’s 9th leading tackler’s diverse skill set will be in demand from the professional league. But, a return for a senior season will provide experience and an elite talent for the Wildcat secondary.


I can’t tell you how difficult it is to start every game during a season. Injuries and at times performance can limit the number of starts for most football players. The “Grind” you hear and read about is legitimate. However, these nine maintained that status throughout the regular season as well as in the Music City Bowl. Courtney Love and Stephen Johnson will be missed and difficult to replace. Mark Stoops will have a veteran laden squad in 2018. Next season should also present an extraordinarily high number of NFL Draft picks.