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Kentucky Football All-Decade Team

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As you know, we have been doing “All-Decade” posts for the last couple of weeks. I asked our good friend and occasional KSR writer Duncan Cavanah to get us ready for the Bowl game by doing his “All-Decade” UK Football Team. Here were his findings:

When Matt asked me to formulate the UK Football All-Decade Team for the first ten years of the new millennium, I knew that I had my work cut out for me. Pouring through record books, countless hours of film study, polling former opponents as to which guards displayed the best technique… These were all expected and welcome costs of so high profile an assignment. What caught me off guard was the highly political nature of the task. From the moment it was entrusted to me, friends, family, colleagues and other interested parties lobbied for their favorite Cat to make the cut. (Yes, Fatu Turituri, I did receive the muffins.) Nonetheless, the list, for good or for bad, is ultimately mine. Here goes:

Offense:

QB — Andre’ Woodson
RB — Artose Pinner
RB — Rafael Little
OT — Antonio Hall
OT — Garry Williams
OG — Jason Leger
OG — Zipp Duncan
C — Matt McCutchan
TE — Jacob Tamme
WR — Keenan Burton
WR — Dicky Lyons, Jr.

Defense:

DE — Jeremy Jarmon
DE — Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns
DT — Myron Pryor
DT — Dewayne Robertson
LB — Wesley Woodyard
LB — Braxton Kelley
LB — Micah Johnson
CB — Trevard Lindley
CB — Eric Kelly
S — Marlon McCree
S — Marcus McClinton

Specialists:

P — Glenn Pakulak
K — Taylor Begley

Kick Returner — Derek Abney
Punt returner — Randall Cobb

The skill positions were fairly self evident to me. At quarterback, Jared Lorenzen is the only other serious candidate. He is actually Kentucky’s all-time leader in most offensive categories. However, unlike Woodson, Lorenzen never won any games of real significance. Additioanlly, the Hefty Lefty threw a rather large load of interceptions (41). Little’s career numbers are astounding. He is UK’s 3rd all time leading rusher, and 2nd all-time in all purpose yards. I cheated a little by naming two tailbacks as I think Artose Pinner had to be on the list due to leading the SEC in rushing in 2002. He also scored 4 touchdowns in one game that season, which, as far as I know, is a feat equaled only by Al Bundy. Had I gone with a more traditional I formation, John Conner would certainly have made the list. I struggled a bit for a second receiver behind Burton. By numbers, Derek Abney is the obvious choice, as he is 2nd all time in receptions. However, by including Abney as a returner, I was able to tab Lyons in the second receiver role. (Tied for 3rd all time in TDs, 4th all time in receiving yards.) Stevie “Got Loose” Johnson just missed the cut. On the line, I placed Duncan back at the guard position he played prior to his senior season so that I could include Garry Williams and Antonio Hall (Did you know he sang?) McCutchan makes the squad as a gritty player who has now graduated to Brooks’ coaching staff.

Three of the four starting defensive linemen were automatic to me, with the one question being who would start at defensive end opposite Jarmon. I considered Dennis Johnson (19 career sacks puts him 2nd all time at UK), Otis “My Man” Grigsby and Chris Demaree before ultimately deciding on Vincent “Sweet Pea” Burns. Burns, who I think was more of a complete player than the eminently more hyped Johnson, had 32 ½ tackles for loss over a two-season stretch from 2002-2003. Corey Peters would have been the next defensive tackle selected. The two best linebackers in the decade were Braxton Kelley and Wesley Woodyard. (Wonder if they’re good enough to make the Lagrange Grangers All Decade Team?) After struggling with the call, I ultimately gave the third spot to Micah Johnson. Sam Maxwell and Johnny Williams also received votes. I found the secondary to be the toughest position group. Only Trevard Lindley seemed obvious. At corner, I went with Eric Kelly despite only playing one year in the decade, and playing on some terrible defenses. Kelly was an athletic cover corner who hung around the NFL for several years. Bo Smith would have been the next corner selected. I cheated a little at safety by naming McCree, who was mostly used as an undersized linebacker at UK, a starting safety. I think the selection is justified as he arrived at UK as a safety and plays that position in the NFL. At the other safety, I picked Marcus McClinton over 2-time All SEC performer Muhammad Abdullah based in part on his 10 career picks and even more so for his role as the Godfather of the “We Believe” movement under Brooks.

Pakulak edges Tim Masthay at punter due to being UK’s all time leader in punting average. Begley beats out Lones Seiber partly because he has a slightly better percentage of makes, and partly because he is from Danville as opposed to Knoxville. Abney was a first team All American as a returner in 2002, and if I fail to place Randall Cobb somewhere on the roster, I will be forced to give up my KSR writer’s tie-tack.

Interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on any over-ratings or glaring omissions.

Article written by Matt Jones