Kentucky Tacklers are the SEC’s Best of All Time


With 64 tackles in 2018, Kentucky Safety/Nickel Mike Edwards will become just the second defensive back to ever join the 300-Tackle Club. That exclusive collection of defenders is dominated by linebackers. I put a question on Twitter asking followers to name UK’s Top 3 all-time leading tacklers. Answers varied, were mostly incorrect, and heavily leaned towards recent names. In fact, zero of the program’s top six tacklers have played a down for the Cats in nearly 25 years. So, I thought we’d have periodical history lessons throughout the offseason in order to show respect to well-deserving former Cats. Today’s presentation is about the Wildcat’s all-time leading tacklers and trust me, you’ll want to read this post all the way through.

Kentucky’s 300 Tackle Club

Position/Name Total Tackles Years Played
LB Dr. Jim Kovach 521 1974-78
LB Chris Chenault 482 1985-88
LB Jeff Kremer 475 1984-87
LB Marty Moore 462 1990-93
LB John Grimsley 437 1980-83
LB Kevin McClellan 416 1980-83
LB Wesley Woodyard 395 2004-07
NT Jerry Blanton 389 1974-77
LB Randy Holleran 379 1987, 88, 90
LB Danny Trevathan 374 2008-11
NT Richard Jaffe 350 1976-79
DE Brian Williams 350 1982-85
LB Tom Ehlers 349 1972-74
DB Darryl Bishop 348 1971-73
LB Larry Smith 342 1983-86
LB Tom Ranieri 329 1972-74
DE Art Still 327 1974-77
DT Doug Martin 319 1980-83

BOLD=UK Hall of Members

* Brian Williams is listed as a defensive end. In the Wide-Tackle-6, DE’s were actually outside linebackers.

** Jerry Claiborne’s LB coach and defensive coordinator Terry Strock mentored six of the twelve linebackers listed.

As you can see above, there are five former Wildcats that accumulated over 400 tackles. Dr. Jim Kovach registered a mind boggling 521. Individual tackling records make for sketchy research; however, per Saturday Down South, the University of Kentucky claims 4 of the SEC’s Top 9 tacklers of all-time.

  1. Jim Kovach – 521
  2. Chris Chenault – 482
  3. Jeff Kremer – 475
  4. Marty Moore – 462

I posed a Twitter question inquiring if the accomplishment of recording 400 college football tackles was the equivalent of scoring 2,000 basketball points. The answer was an overwhelming yes. If that’s that case, then I continue to have an overbearing and tiring question regarding the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame.

There’s been three basketball Cats to score 2,000 career points: Dan Issel (2,038), Kenny Walker (2,080), and Jack Givens (2,038). All three were inducted in the inaugural class of university’s Hall of Fame. UK has produced six defenders that registered over 400-tackles. Just two of the six are in the Hall: Jim Kovach (1st) and Marty Moore (4th). A mere four of the eighteen members of the 300 Tackle Club are in the Hall of Fame yet four former Wildcats are listed ranked in the Top 10 in the SEC’s All-Time, Career Total Tackle category.

The program’s second all-time leading tackler, Chris Chenault, is nowhere to be found in the heralds of distinction. Same can be said of number three (Jeff Kremer), five (John Grimsley), and six (Kevin McClellan). The time has come to fix this. But, like in most processes there must be a starting point. Thirty years after his last snap while wearing the Power K, Chris Chenault deserves the respect of having his number eternally remembered.

The SEC’s fifth all-time leading tackler with 482 stops is Kentucky’s second leading tackler in program history. Can you imagine if Kenny Walker was not in the Hall? The retired Kentucky State Trooper’s enshrinement into the best of the best club needs to be now, 2018. Come on, let’s get this right. The fifth leading tackler in the nation’s most prestigious football conference is grounds for nomination to the National College Football Hall of Fame no less his alma mater’s.

So yes, Mike Edwards being 64 tackles short of joining this select club would be a significant accomplishment; no, actually Edwards would join historical all-timers. In terms of historic individual tacklers, the Wildcats own the league.

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President

7 responses to “Kentucky Tacklers are the SEC’s Best of All Time”

  1. bb88888888

    Does it trouble anybody else that in order to have that many tackles, Kentucky’s defense has had to be on the field a lot, meaning, our offense has stunk it up for decades?

    1. secrick

      No, We are talking about a great player here he couldn’t help what the offense did.

    2. Angelo

      Not with number one Kovach! Or Still and the 70’s guys.

  2. runningunnin.454

    I was there for Kovach, Still, Blanton, Ehlers, Bishop, and Ranieri….awesome defense.

  3. Parker_UKFanNC

    Maybe if dline didn’t have so many holes and eat beat he wouldn’t need to tackle so much and less yards given up all the time

  4. jaws2

    Kodach was a BEAST on the field! Chenault not being in the hall is ridiculous.

  5. snarkster

    One caveat – when your defense is on the field for considerably more snaps than most defenses, your leading tacklers tend to have more opportunities to make tackles.