Football Season Coverage
Josh Paschal captured the hearts of the BBN last season when he was diagnosed with melanoma on the bottom of his foot. Now, he’s captured the hearts of the millions of viewers who tuned into Monday morning’s Today Show. And, of course, he rocked a UK Football jacket on the air.
Paschal’s story is especially unique, as melanoma is incredibly rare in young African Americans.
“Growing up, and being so young, I never thought of cancer – period. And I am an African American male, so I never thought of skin cancer as a possibility,” Paschal said on the show. “I was really ignorant to what it even was, so I had to learn more about it just to even know what I was going through.”
Throughout the interview, Paschal details his multiple procedures and gives an update on his current health – he is still receiving immunotherapy treatments to help ensure the cancer doesn’t return.
He’s joined by fellow melanoma survivor Tracy Callahan and a dermatologist. The interview comes as part of “Melanoma Monday” for Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
The Today Show did a longer feature on Paschal that premiered online over the weekend.
This profile goes more in-depth on the three surgeries Paschal underwent, as well as showcasing more of the UK Football training areas and an interview with the Cats’ athletic trainer, who first encouraged Paschal to have his foot checked out by a doctor.
Paschal says he hopes his story brings awareness to the disease – especially regarding the possibility that it can affect African Americans, even in low-exposure areas such as the bottom of your feet. Early detection is key for treating a disease such as this one, so always get any irregular places looked at by a doctor as soon as possible.
By Maggie Davis on ©May 05th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Current Lexington Catholic quarterback Beau Allen is set to make his college decision in less than 24 hours: he’ll announce where he’s decided to spend the next four years of his football career Monday at 3:30 p.m. There’s not much time left in a recruitment that’s been ongoing for years – where does Kentucky stand now that it’s coming down to the wire?
Long story short, the Wildcats appear to be in a good spot with Allen. The 6-foot-2 quarterback has been showing UK (and some freshly-committed Cats) plenty of love on Twitter, and 24/7 Sports currently has his Crystal Ball set to 100% for the Wildcats.
Allen took an official visit last weekend, alongside two players who have since committed: four-star offensive lineman John Young and three-star defensive back Andru Phillips. Allen reposted both Young and Phillips’ commitment announcements. In the last few days, Allen has also “liked” Tweets by accounts such as The Stoops Era and Everything Kentucky Football.
As promised, John Young has also hit Allen’s social media pretty hard with pro-Kentucky Tweets. If this is what he’s doing on a public forum, imagine the texts he’s sending his friend.
— John Young (@the_johnyoung) May 2, 2019
When Young came on KSR following his own announcement, he promised to “bug [Allen] until he blocks my number. I’m going to be on him until his commits.”
Could Young’s final efforts be enough to seal the deal? Will the four-star quarterback be the next Kentuckian to announce a verbal commitment?
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) May 5, 2019
Allen also has offers from the Washington State Cougars and Neal Brown’s West Virginia Mountaineers. Allen visited the west coast the weekend before his Kentucky visit, describing his weekend with the Cougs as “really great.”
When asked about his feelings toward the University of Kentucky, Allen was very positive. Like all of UK’s recent commits, Allen cited the program’s upwards trajectory under Coach Mark Stoops. He also mentioned his close relationship with the UK staff, specifically mentioning offensive coordinator Eddie Gran, recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow, quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw and special teams coordinator Dean Hood.
Could Allen finalize a spectacular in-state trifecta for the 2020 Wildcat squad? We’ll have to wait until Monday afternoon to be certain, but the tea leaves certainly look good for Kentucky.
By Brent Wainscott on ©May 05th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
Josh Paschal has been making headlines since he was diagnosed with melanoma in his foot back in August of 2018. As we all know, the story had a happy ending when we saw Paschal take the field against Middle Tennessee State on Senior Day in November, and tomorrow Josh Pachal gets to share his story on NBC’s TODAY Show.
Paschal will be live in studio at Rockefeller plaza tomorrow during the 9:00 a.m. ET hour to share his story with Al Roker, Sheinelle Jones and Dylan Dreyer for Melanoma Awareness Month.
Check out the preview for his appearance on the TODAY show:
By Sam Gormley on ©May 05th, 2019 @ 10:00am
I watched the Kentucky Derby from Great American Ballpark minutes before the Reds and Giants played. My dad and I saw Maximum Security win and made our way to our seats thinking that was the end of everything. It was until I got a notification that said that Maximum Security was DQ and Country House was declared the winner.
I am the furthest thing from an expert when it comes to horse racing. Did Maximum Security “impede” the progress of another horse? I don’t even know that I would know what to look for.
To watch the stewards discuss the ruling, click the link below:
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 5, 2019
Again, I would be the first to admit that I don’t have a true understanding of the rules that go into a race. What I do know is that this will be a finish that is talked about for the next 145 Derbys.
— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 4, 2019
Now onto the other news of the day:
Jalen Johnson includes Kentucky in Top Four
One of the top juniors in the class of 2020 announced yesterday that Kentucky, along with Wisconsin, Arizona and Duke, are finalists in his recruitment.
Johnson is a 6’8 forward from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He told reporters last year that the hometown Badgers had a slight lead, but his recruitment was still wide open. While their games aren’t the same, if I am John Calipari, I 100% send the five-star prospect footage of Tyler Herro. Show what Kentucky can do for a kid from Wisconsin.
— Jalen Johnson (@Jalen_J23) May 5, 2019
For more on Johnson, including his opinions on Kentucky… and Duke, click this link for a write up from KSR’s recruiting expert Jack Pilgrim.
Beau Allen talks decision
To say the last week has been good for recruiting in Kentucky would be an understatement. Tomorrow could be the cap off of a true trifecta with Lexington native Beau Allen announcing his commitment.
Allen, a four star quarterback, will make his decision between Kentucky, Washington State, West Virginia and Duke. In a recent interview with Rivals, Allen talked about what he likes about each school and his response to Kentucky is interesting. You might think the “hometown hero” card is the biggest factor, but it is something else that he likes.
To find out what that is, and his opinion on other schools, click here.
Cats visit five-star guard Daishen Nix
The recruiting didn’t end for the Kentucky coaching staff as Joel Justus was in to see Alaska native Daishen Nix. I admittedly don’t know a lot about Nix, but the minute I saw Alaska native, I knew exactly why the Cats were recruiting him. While he now plays in Las Vegas, you never know if an in-home visit could happen in Alaska and isn’t that Coach Cal’s dream to go there? I kid…
Nix is the #13 player in the class of 2020 and holds offers from most of the major west coast programs.
From yesterday’s KSR article, “Josh Gershon of 247 Sports says Nix is an ‘outstanding facilitator’ with ‘elite vision’ and ‘strong natural instincts.’
Good size for position with strong, sturdy frame. Elite vision; outstanding facilitator who is creative as a distributor. High basketball IQ with strong natural instincts for position. Improving shooter with range to perimeter although he is more efficient as he get closer to basket. Quick hands and impressive instincts on defense. Could improve as a shooter but it’s an area he’s shown progress and in general has been on a high trajectory since arriving in Nevada from Alaska prior to his freshman season. Projects as a successful college point guard with NBA upside.
This seems like a good guy to get to join Ramon Harris as Cats from Alaska.
Baseball DH at home this afternoon
If you are looking for a good way to spend your Saturday, make your way to Kentucky Proud Park where the Kentucky Baseball team will take on Arkansas in a DH beginning at 1pm.
I have heard nothing but good things about the new stadium and with the rain gone, I can’t think of a much better way to spend a Sunday.
In another amazing NFL Draft for the SEC, a record 64 players were taken from the conference. While there were surprises and some players unfortunately fell in the draft, some of these athletes landed in awesome situations. Here are the 10 best landing spots for players from the SEC in 2019 NFL Draft. (Players are in order of their selection in the draft)
1. Josh Allen-Kentucky, Seventh Overall Pick, Jacksonville Jaguars
This was a brilliant pick by the Jaguars. While some may say that their already great defense did not need to draft more help on that side of the ball, a player of Allen’s talent is an absolute steal.
While they are 4th in the league in scoring defense, Jacksonville still needs a linebacker that can really get after the quarterback. Telvin Smith and Myles Jack are very good do-everything linebackers, but they only had 3.5 sacks in between each other last season. Putting Allen next to them in their 4-3 defense forms one of the most complete linebacker cores in football. I would not be surprised at all if he finishes with 7-10 sacks this season.
On Allen’s end, what better situation to fall into than this one? He gets to play in sunny Florida for an already defensively dominant squad with a spot carved out for him. All he has to do is run straight at the quarterback all season long while the stalwarts on that side of the ball take care of everything else. Falling to seven was a tough look for Allen, but it may have been a blessing in disguise.
— Cian (@Cianaf) April 30, 2019
2. Montez Sweat-Mississippi State, 26th Overall Pick, Washington Redskins
Very similarly to Allen, another SEC edge rusher who surprisingly fell in the draft found a team with a defensive spot already carved out for him. The Redskins play a very suitable 3-4 defense for a hybrid defensive end prospect like Sweat.
Washington actually has a pretty decent defense with studs like Ryan Kerrigan, Mason Foster, and Josh Norman. However, they are just one more great edge rusher away from being a elite unit. That’s exactly what Sweat could potentially provide.
This is a no-pressure situation for the former Bulldog. Like Allen, there is no pressure on him to be elite right off the bat. Any positive plays he gives the Redskins will be a welcome addition to a defense just a player away from being one of the best in the league. Putting his 4.4 speed on the opposite side of the field from Kerrigan should be huge trouble for opposing NFC teams.
Credit where it's due: #Redskins have put together an immensely talented defensive front seven:
LE: Matt Ioannidis
RE: Jonathan Allen
NT: Daron Payne
ROLB: Montez Sweat
LOLB: Ryan Kerrigan
ILB: Mason Foster
ILB: Reuben Foster
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) April 26, 2019
3. DeAndre Baker-Georgia, 30th Overall Pick, New York Giants
It’s no secret that I’m a very big fan of Baker’s skillset. No defensive back had more of a dominant year this past season in college football than he did. And yet, he found himself slipping all the way down to pick No. 30.
After getting rid of Landon Collins in the offseason, the Giants badly needed defensive back help for a unit that was already 23rd in passing yardage allowed per game. Baker has the talent to excel right away and the personality to handle the New York spotlight.
While the Giants are going to be a very, very bad team this year, this could actually work in Baker’s favor. Any player who has a good season on a terrible team will get more recognition than he probably deserves. That may just be Baker this season, and I expect him to be in the running for DPOY.
4. Irv Smith Jr.-Alabama, 2nd Round 50th Overall, Minnesota Vikings
This pick absolutely rocks because of its simplicity. Everyone knows that Minnesota has one of the best tight ends in the game with Kyle Rudolph. However, they do not have anyone of major significance behind him. This is especially worrying because it prevents the Vikings from ever going to a trustworthy two tight-end set.
Enter Smith Jr. His rare combination of speed and athleticism will make a dangerous on-field combo with his pro-bowl counterpart. All of the attention in this draft towards tight ends has been mainly geared towards the two great pass catchers from Iowa and rightfully so. But it’s a joke that Smith Jr. fell all the way to the 50th pick considering he is on the same level as them.
Despite the fall, it’s a perfect situation. He is on a pretty good team, has no pressure on him, and will be learning behind one of the best in the league. Give it 2-3 years and the former Alabama star will be a top-10 tight end in the league.
#Vikings GM Rick Spielman addressed why they selected TE Irv Smith Jr. and the trade rumors surrounding TE Kyle Rudolph…
"They're going to have to defend one or the other & then if you put our 2 WR's out there with them…it makes defenses try to pick their poison."
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) May 1, 2019
5. A.J. Brown-Ole Miss, 2nd Round 51st Overall, Tennessee Titans
Filling team needs in a draft is huge for franchises. However, sometimes you just have to take the best player available. Whenever you can do both at once, you get a home-run pick. That’s exactly what happened when the Titans selected A.J. Brown in the second round.
In my opinion, I thought Brown had a great case as the best receiver in this draft and he somehow fell to the middle of the second round. I’m not sure what happened here, but the Titans really lucked up here.
Tennessee ranked 29th in total passing yardage per game, and that wasn’t because Marcus Mariota is a bad quarterback. Besides Corey Davis, the receiving core was very disappointing last season. Brown is an instant upgrade to the unit, and I would not be surprised to see him overtake Tajae Sharpe as the secondary receiver for this franchise by the end of the year.
— Titans Film Room (@titansfilmroom) May 1, 2019
6. D.K. Metcalf-Ole Miss, 2nd Round 64th Overall, Seattle Seahawks
I have been on record saying that D.K. Metcalf might be a huge bust in the NFL. He has amazing size and speed, but he is coming off an injury and is bad route runner. Pretty much the only thing I see translating to the next level is his ability to run straight down the field and make athletic catches.
Well, if there is a team that utilizes this type of play more then the Seahawks do, I would like to see it. Russell Wilson may just be the best deep-ball thrower in the entire league as he is able to put insane arch on deep passes down the middle of the field.
Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett both had above average seasons last year benefiting off of Wilson’s playing style, and I think Metcalf will as well. It’s also important to note that Baldwin’s career may actually be over due to an unfortunate injury. Metcalf has a lot to improve upon, but being the potential No. 2 receiver with Wilson at quarterback is an awesome position for him to be in.
Seattle grabs DK Metcalf with the last pick of the 2nd round ? pic.twitter.com/GtxNv5xuhA
— ESPN (@espn) April 27, 2019
7. Jace Sternberger-Texas A&M, 3rd Round 75th Overall, Green Bay Packers
Here is another very smart tight end pick for a team that needs better offensive skill players. It was an incredibly rough season last year for Aaron Rodgers and company as the Packers missed the playoffs. While Davante Adams recorded 1,300 yards, no other receiver on the team had more than 636 receiving yards (Jimmy Graham).
Yes, Graham is still on the team, but he has taken several steps back in his career. He is not the player he once was which will give Sternberger valuable playing time this season. The Texas A&M star is an awesome RedZone target as he caught 10 TD’s last season. Just imagine what he can accomplish with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
This is another situation where a very talented player will be learning behind an all-pro and catching passes from a star quarterback with little pressure on him. Sternberger is one lucky guy.
— Jace Sternberger (@_Jstern) April 27, 2019
8. Benny Snell Jr.-Kentucky, 4th Round 122nd Overall, Pittsburgh Steelers
This guy has been underappreciated by so many (including me) for so long. He was easily one of the best running backs in college football this season, and Snell Jr. was easily the best back in the history of Kentucky football.
Yes, he ran a 4.66 40-yard dash at the combine which is, of course, not great to say the least. However, falling to the fourth round is a bit disrespectful. The awesome news is that he fell to a pretty great situation at Pittsburgh where his talents have the best chance to succeed.
What’s impressed me the most about Snell Jr. is his ability to be patient and let holes open up for him to then use his great strength and quickness to barrel over defenders. That’s exactly how Le’veon Bell and James Connor have played the position at Pittsburgh over the last few seasons. The offensive line is used to blocking for these types of backs, and Snell Jr. is bound to get valuable reps as the probable second-string back in this high-octane offense.
— Blitzburgh (@SteelBlitzburgh) April 27, 2019
9. Jarrett Stidham-Auburn, 4th Round 133rd Overall, New England Patriots
Let’s be honest: You all knew this pick was making this list. Before the draft, the Patriots backup quarterback behind legend Tom Brady was…. *checks notes*…..Brian Hoyer.
Stidham was a terrible fit in Auburn’s offense which also could never adequately block for him anyways. At Baylor as a freshman quarterback is where Stidham truly showcased his talent. I’m actually quite high on this guy, and I think the Patriots got an absolute steal here.
I think it’s a stretch to say that Brady will still be around three years from now which means Stidham has at least two full seasons to learn behind the greatest quarterback and coach in NFL history without any pressure to rush his development. Situations don’t get any better than this for a quarterback. Keep Stidham’s name in mind, folks. He will have his day sooner than you think.
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) April 28, 2019
10. Trayveon Williams-Texas A&M, 6th Round 182nd Overall, Cincinnati Bengals
Finally, we have Trayveon Williams who fell all the way to the 6th round of the draft. Like with Snell Jr., I think this fall was completely unwarranted. Williams was easily the second best running back in the SEC this year and for whatever reason he was overlooked.
He will most likely have to compete with Rodney Anderson for the right to be the third string running back once the season starts. However, Williams could easily beat out second string back Giovanni Bernard for his spot. Bernard’s time in the league seems to have went and gone already due to his long injury history.
Trayveon Williams cold af pic.twitter.com/mOPlmVLXvj
— Sant (@Worldsfinest26) September 18, 2016
With his elite speed and quickness, he is a great offset to starter Joe Mixon’s physical play. I would not be surprised that when we look back on this draft, we will be utterly surprised at how far Williams fell. This guy plays hard 100% of the time, and Bengals fans are going to love his effort.
By Maggie Davis on ©May 03rd, 2019 @ 8:30pm
Among the 71 student athletes graduating from the University of Kentucky is one extra-familiar face: Avery Williamson. After playing football for the Wildcats from 2010-2014, Williamson was drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. After four years with the Titans, the former Cat now suits up for the New York Jets.
His recent contract with the Jets is good for three-years and $22.50 million, including $16 million guaranteed and a signing bonus of $6 million. But that wasn’t enough for Williamson – he wanted a degree from the University of Kentucky.
“I decided to tell myself I was going to do it after my fifth year [in the NFL],” Williamson said. “I didn’t want to wait too long.”
Williamson returned to Lexington Friday afternoon, where he walked across the stage to receive his degree in Integrated Strategic Communications.
“I feel like education is very important, and you never know what situations life may throw at you. If I do want to continue with broadcasting, what could be the difference between me getting the job and somebody else? It might be that I have a college degree. This is going to set me up for the later part of my life.”
Drafted in the 2014 @NFLDraft ?? Four years with the @titans ?? Currently a LB with the @jets ?? Now a @universityofky GRADUATE! We are so proud of you, @AWilliamson54!#BBN #WeAreUK #SeeBlue pic.twitter.com/1XtXjW8VrA
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) May 2, 2019
After completing his fifth year in the @nfl, LB @AWilliamson54 returned to UK in the off-season to finish his degree in integrated strategic communication. Today, it was all worth it. Congrats, Avery! #WeAreUK
? ? ? pic.twitter.com/xyLootwrGz
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) May 3, 2019
The transition from (and balance between) professional football to the classroom has to be a rocky one, but Williamson found a way to make it work.
“In class as an NFL player – it’s definitely a different perspective than what it was when I was here as a freshman or sophomore in college,” Williamson said. “It was awesome to come back and be able to complete it.”
By Adam Luckett on ©May 03rd, 2019 @ 3:30pm
Look at that picture. That was taken last year during fall camp as Kentucky prepared for what turned out to be one of the greatest seasons in program history. After a hard fought battle, junior college transfer Terry Wilson won the QB1 spot despite some very sluggish play during the middle of the season. The junior is now appears poised to make a big leap in his second year under offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw.
Fast forward a few nine months later and the two scholarship quarterbacks shown in the picture are to off that what they hope will be greener pastures. Gunnar Hoak is heading home to Columbus to play for the Ohio State team he cheered for growing up while Danny Clark decided to go the junior college route to continue his career. Now Kentucky is left in a bit of the bind.
Currently redshirt sophomore Walker Wood is the only scholarship quarterback remaining on the roster and the former mid-three star recruit has battled with injuries his entire career. Coming this summer will be a pair of three-star quarterbacks in Amani Gilmore and Nik Scalzo. However, there is just no way UK feels comfortable about their quarterback situation even with a starter set in stone and no quarterback controversy for us at KSR to cover this summer.
In today’s age of college football, chronic transfers are a thing all programs are having to deal with. From national title contenders to perennial cellar dwellars in the Group of Five, every school playing this sport is having to look at roster construction in a much different way. When a coach hears “transfer portal” most probably cringe, but in this case an enemy can truly be your friend at the same time.
On Monday, all signs point to UK landing their quarterback of the future in Lexington Catholic’s Beau Allen. But in 2019, UK has major depth questions at the position. Right now, the Wildcats have the guy in Terry Wilson but after that they will be leaning on three quarterbacks with a ton of inexperience. Walker Wood had dealt with injuries his entire college career, Nik Scalzo is off a major knee surgery, and Amani Gilmore has spent the spring playing baseball. Kentucky needs to test out the transfer market to see if there is an obvious fit for their quarterback siutation.
The transfer portal is up and running this offseason and seems to show no signs of slowing down. Right now there are a few players out there who could fill the void that Kentucky is currently looking to replace.
Troy’s starting quarterback was lost for the season last year and in stepped redshirt sophomore Sawyer Smith. The Pensacola, Florida native was a three-star recruit out of high school and after sitting for two years under Neal Brown, he finally got a shot to play in 2018.
The 6-foot-3 and 219-pound quarterback was a bit of dual-threat for the Trojans as he ran for 268 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry on non-sack carries. However, he did most of his damage with the deep ball. Smith hit multiple deep shots for the Trojans and had a career day in the Dollar General Bowl by tossing for 320 yards and four touchdowns. However, Smith has struggled with intermediate accuracy and if you took away the deep ball then you stopped the Trojans.
With Smith there is an obvious connection there. He played for former UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown and current UK inside linebackers coach Jon Sumrall was on the staff for Smith’s first two years at Troy. Smith has two years of eligibility remaining but as of right now it is still not clear whether he will be a graduate transfer. If he is that would give UK a quarterback with two years of eligibility left, experience with the staff, and FBS starting experience. You couldn’t ask for much more.
In one of the biggest surprises of the offseason, Penn State dual-threat quarterback put his name in the transfer portal. After apparently being beat out by redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford in spring ball, Penn State’s often used wildcat quarterback is looking for a new home.
The former high three-star recruit spent his entire career as a backup to Trace McSorley and was successful in spot duty. Penn State used the 240-pound jumbo athlete in short yardage runs in addition to an H-back role. In a limited sample size, the Indianapolis native completed 58.5 percent of his passes in addition to being a dangerous runner. In quotes from his father, it seems like Stevens may want to go somewhere to start but he may be too late in the process to get somewhere enticing for that. Right now he has official visits schedule to Illinois, Miami (OH), and Mississippi State but there is time to schedule more.
There are plenty of other options available at the moment, but Kentucky is in a tricky spot. The Wildcats have found themselves in a pickle following two quarterback transfers in a matter of months. You could also make the argument that time is also on Kentucky’s side. There are only so many starting quarterback spots available and most of those holes have been filled. Time is ticking on these players that are currently sitting in the portal and they are going to have to land somewhere soon. Just maybe something will fall UK’s way here and they will find themselves a solid option for QB2.
The draft has come and gone with the UK football program making a big mark. Over last weekend in the Music City, five Wildcats heard their name called apart of the three-day extravaganza in addition to five other players agreeing to training camp deals.
It was a historic day that is beginning to have benefits for the program on the recruiting trail. The Kentucky football brand is only getting stronger, but there’s plenty of time this summer to focus on that. Now we need to see just what type of situation each player is going into at the start of their professional career.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Allen (1st Round, 7th overall)
Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls as the head coach of the New York Giants and there his teams were paced by some tremendous edge rushers. After having the best defense in the NFL in 2017, the Jags took a step back in 2018 due, in part to, a limited outside pass rush. They addressed that need with their first pick in 2019.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) April 26, 2019
After ranking second in the NFL in sacks in 2017, Jacksonville slipped to 22nd this past season on their way to a disappointing 5-11 season. Even with a large amount of money contributed to new quarterback Nick Foles, the defense is going to lead the way for the Jags in the AFC South.
Under defensive coordinator Todd Wash and linebackers coach Mark Collins, Allen will be used at the Sam linebacker position he played in his first three seasons in Lexington opposed to the Jack edge position he played in 2018. In the hybrid 4-3 scheme, Allen will be asked to play pass coverage quite often but the Jags will be sure to have the pass rushing phenom scream off the edge.
On the defensive line, the Jags have three-time All-Pro selection Calais Campbell at end and former top-three pick Marcell Dareus at tackle. There is talent in the front seven with athletic linebackers Myles Jack and Telvin Smith playing inside. Josh Allen should get plenty of opportunities to do what he does best and that is speed rush. This defense is filled with a ton of young, talented pieces and Allen fits that mold. If he is able to adjust to the NFL game quickly, he’ll have a great shot at defensive rookie of the year honors.
Houston Texans: Lonnie Johnson, Jr. (2nd round, 54th overall)
The former junior college prospect became a starter halfway through his junior season and turned into a very reliable piece for Kentucky’s stalwart defense in 2018. With great size, length, and athleticism, Johnson wowed scouts in the pre-draft process and became a day two pick at the NFL Draft.
The Houston Texans picked him up on Friday night and he was their first defensive selection of the draft. Entering this season, Romeo Crennel’s defense has two solidified corners in Jonathan Joseph and Aaron Colvin, but the former is 35 years old. Houston needs the big, athletic corner to be a contributor on all special teams in addition to providing depth to the outside corner spots.
The corner that Johnson will be competing with will be NFL journeyman Briean Boddy-Calhoun who will only be making $900,000 in the last year of his contract this fall. Houston also scooped up Central Michigan corner Xavier Crawford in the sixth round, but the expectation will be for Johnson to emerge as a major contributor in 2020 and then become a full-time starter in 2021.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Edwards (3rd round, 99th overall)
One of the best secondary players to ever suit up at Kentucky was drafted on late Friday night and will be heading to Tampa to play for first-year head coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Edwards will be entering a secondary room that is young, but full of opportunity.
Last year the Bucs started a rookie and a second-year play at their two safety spots on their way to having the sixth worst defense in the NFL according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA advanced stats rankings. The Bucs will be having a lot of open competitions. Edwards will bring versatility to the team by being able to play both safety positions in addition to being a slot corner. It will be a heated training camp battle down in the Sunshine State.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Benny Snell (4th round, 122nd overall)
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) April 27, 2019
The program’s all-time leading rusher and perhaps the most beloved player to ever wear the blue and white went off the board much earlier than expected. Benny Snell heard his name called in the first round of the Saturday session and there couldn’t have been many better situations.
Many draft analysts believed Snell would be a sixth or seventh round selection or even go undrafted if things got crazy. However, the Steelers are looking for something a little different at running back and Snell fits that.
Following the departure of Le’Veon Bell to the Jets, there was an obvious hole to fill on the Pittsburgh roster. After going linebacker, receiver, corner to start the draft, the Steelers knew they would have to go running back soon. In the fourth round, they selected Snell and he’ll be competing for the RB2 role.
James Conner was a legit RB1 for Pittsburgh last year rushing for 973 yards, recording 55 receptions, and collecting 13 touchdowns in a breakout season. After that there is a void. The Steelers want to have a physical running game and former NC State utility man Jaylen Samuels is best suited in a third down back/fourth wideout type role. So for Conner’s primary backup it’ll be a battle between Snell and Vanderbilt’s all-time leading rusher Ralph Webb.
So this summer at Steelers camp it will be the the SEC’s sixth all-time leading rusher (Webb) and 12th all-time leading rusher (Snell) going at it for playing time and potentially a roster spot. That will be some big boy football.
New York Giants: George Asafo-Adjei (7th round, 232nd overall)
UK’s biggest draft surprise occurred in the final round when the G-Men and now notoriously known general manager Dave Gettleman selected UK’s starting right tackle to help round out their draft. Up in New York/New Jersey, the former top-500 recruit in the class of 2015 will be finally making the full-time move to guard.
Due to roster construction, Kentucky had to use Asafo-Adjei at right tackle but now he’ll be moving to his more natural position on the interior. The West Chester, Ohio native had an impressive showing at UK’s pro day after not being invited to the combine and that is likely the main reason he heard his name called in the draft.
The Giants spent a second round pick on an offensive guard last year and acquired Kevin Zeitler from the Browns in a trade this offseason. In camp, Asafo-Adjei will be competing with Nick Gates and Chad Slate for the primary backup guard role and a spot on the 53-man roster. Gates was an undrafted free agent who was hurt last season while Slate spent 2018 on the practice squad. Asafo-Adjei will have a legit opportunity to make the club with a good training camp.
Derrick Baity, Jr. (Houston Texas, Undrafted Free Agent)
Four-year starting field corner Derrick Baity, Jr. went undrafted, but it did not take long for the Houston Texans to sign him. There he will be reunited with fellow UK corner Lonnie Johnson and there is a big need for corners on J.J. Watt’s defense. If Baity can outperform Johnson and fellow draft pick Xavier Crawford in camp he could make the 53-man roster.
Dorian Baker (Cleveland Browns, Undrafted Free Agent)
The three-year starting wide receiver signed quickly with his hometown team after the draft and it will be a very steep uphill climb. The Browns acquired Odell Beckham this offseason to team up with Jarvis Landry in addition to Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins being quality third and fourth options. For Baker to have any chance, he’ll have to make a ton of plays on special teams.
Chris Westry (Dallas Cowboys, Undrafted Free Agent)
During the entire draft process there was one specific NFL franchise that seemed to be infatuated with Chris Westry and that was the Cowboys. Many believed that Dallas would select him, but it was almost immediately after the draft when he was signed. The 6-foot-4 corner joins fifth round pick Michael Jackson, Sr. and there are reserve spots to be had. It’s clear that Dallas really likes Westry and he should get plenty of looks in camp.
Darius West (Oakland Raiders, Undrafted Free Agent)
After early reports linked UK’s starting free safety to the Giants and Chiefs, the former blue-chip prospect landed on the Raiders for a shot at making Jon Gruden’s club. The silver and black took Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram at the end of the first round, but he is likely a strong safety. West brings free safety experience and great speed to the table. If he balls out on special teams he should have a legitimate chance to make the team.
Bunchy Stallings (Jacksonville Jaguars, Undrafted Free Agent)
The first-team All-American did not hear his name called in the draft, but immediately signed with the Jags to join fellow UK teammate Josh Allen in Jacksonville. With Nick Foles now in town and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo calling the shots there could be some wide open competition for some spots on the offense. However, Stallings appears to have a steep hill to climb to crack the rotation.
C.J. Conrad (New York Giants, Undrafted Free Agent)
An unexpected heart issue popped up at the combine causing C.J. Conrad to not be able to workout and forcing many teams to totally remove him from their draft boards. This likely costed UK another draft pick, but we’re all just happy to hear that Conrad appears to be fine and should be able to continue his playing career. With NYG, Conrad enters the offseason with a great chance at cracking the rotation and to become a special teams starter.
By Maggie Davis on ©May 03rd, 2019 @ 11:30am
Some of the top members of the UK Athletics staff as well as student athletes gathered Friday night to help raise money for the Lexington Cancer Foundation while at the Bluegrass Wine Auction & Derby Gala.
The Kentucky football team is all too familiar with the cause. Linebacker Josh Paschal as well as his offensive line coach, John Schlarman fought the disease last season. Last night, Coach Mark Stoops had the opportunity to commend them both for their hard-fought battles.
“You want to talk about an inspiration? John Schlarman has gone through a brutal cancer,” Stoops said. “Here’s the guy who’s gone through treatment every single week.”
Stoops went on to tell the story of how he found out about the diagnoses, as he says he was talking about Paschal’s condition just minutes before he learned of Coach Schlarman’s. Here’s a look at his short speech, thanks to our good friend Jennifer Palumbo.
An emotional moment at the @lcfi Bluegrass Wine Auction & Derby Gala. @UKCoachStoops recognizes John Schlarman and his courageous battle against cancer, along with @UKCoachCalipari and @UKCoachMitchell. We love you, @CoachSchlarman and @LSchlarman!? #BBN pic.twitter.com/W3w8YnNdlx
— Jennifer Palumbo (@JenNimePalumbo) May 3, 2019
Although the details surrounding Schlarman’s specific heath issues have not been fully disclosed, Stoops knows how much his assistant coach has been through over the last year – all while never missing a practice.
“It’s been amazing,” Stoops said. “It’s been a work of God, the success he’s had with this brutal cancer.”
A great speech given about two great men, all for a great cause.
By Nick Roush on ©April 30th, 2019 @ 3:00pm
I had a revelation on Broadway. Unlike any other event I’ve attended, the NFL Draft is infinitely better to experience in person than it is to watch on television. Accurately describing those differences will be difficult, but I’ll do my best to try.
After finding my seat in the media tent, I immediately sought out the enormous stage. It was so large, I could not fit the entire structure in the frame of my first picture.
Within a restricted area for ticketed fans just outside of the general admission area, there was initially plenty of room to walk around and see how the fans celebrated. That did not last for long. A record 600,000 people packed the streets of Nashville. Even with the massive amounts of people, the only complaints I heard were about the price of beers.
What are the chances my favorite band in all the land opened for my first NFL Draft? Slim. The first time I saw Moon Taxi perform, there were just a few hundred people crammed into Cosmic Charlie’s right before Halloween 2013. Ten shows later they’re performing in front of thousands ahead of the NFL Draft. I was one of the few getting after it during their originals, but everyone was jamming when they covered Queen and Old Town Road.
You think UK fans are crazy? You ain’t seen nothing yet.
You people are crazy. pic.twitter.com/8rsQ9CXcQM
— Nick Roush (@RoushKSR) April 25, 2019
Aside from all the costumes and pageantry, NFL fans are just wired differently. Some aren’t so different than us, going out of their way to know every single thing about their team. You can’t say that about every Raiders fan. When I asked who they were going to draft, one who had been well-served responded, “I don’t give a shit. We’re going to Vegas!” No, he did not know who Clelin Ferrell was.
Some fans make the NFL Draft an annual pilgrimage. This group of friends grew up in Miami before moving to different parts of the country. Each year the draft serves as their “guys trip.” While they each had a favorite team, they spent more time acting like the kids they once were, poking holes in each other’s ponchos just for the fun of it.
While most of the fans were there for the NFL teams, plenty of blue still got in to see the Jacksonville Jaguars draft Josh Allen.
By Nick Roush on ©April 29th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
There are some heavy hands walking around the Joe Craft Football Training Facility.
Before the close of the spring semester, the UK football players were given their Citrus Bowl rings. The large piece of jewelry has a few small details that really make a difference.
The ring reminds all who bear witness of UK’s four top 25 wins, the Governor’s Cup victory and UK’s top 25 finish.
Josh Allen received his a few days early. It’s one of the many perks you get as a first round NFL Draft pick.
"Citrus Bowl champs. That is what happens when you win games at #UK." @JoshAllen41_ showing off the Citrus Bowl ring. He is representing @UKFootball at the highest level. #BBN pic.twitter.com/xwvMBqLkAp
— Alex Walker (@AlexWalkerTV) April 26, 2019
Allen is not the only one showing off the new hardware. Just don’t look for too long. The glare could harm your eyesight.
— BullyBall Mccall5?0? (@MccallMarquan) April 29, 2019
The transfer portal swallowed another one. This time, it is UK wide receiver Zy’Aire Hughes.
Derek Terry over at CatsPause.com has the scoop. He is reporting Hughes is floating around in the portal, even though Hughes’ name hasn’t been added to 247’s portal site as I write this.
The news isn’t much of a surprise. Hughes has been away from the program since his arrest on fourth-degree assault charges back in December. The Paducah native did not participate in spring practice.
During happier times in Lexington, Hughes had a 49-yard touchdown on his first career touch, a reverse out of the Wildcat, against Murray State. He played in six other games last season and would’ve been a contender for serious minutes at receiver this coming season, if not for the off-field issue before the Citrus Bowl.
Now he is looking for a fresh start in college football. Good luck to him.
By Maggie Davis on ©April 28th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
Former Wildcat George Asafo-Adjei received the call from the New York Giants during the seventh round of the NFL. The 6-foot-5 offensive tackle was selected as the 232nd overall pick.
When Giants’ head coach Pat Shurmur and Dave Gettleman gave Asafo-Adjei a ring, he was more than happy to answer the call. In fact, when they asked him if he’s ready to be a New York Giant, his answer was simple and immediate: Hell Yeah.
7th round pick George Asafo-Adjei gets the call he’s been drafted by the #NYGiants.
— New York Giants (@Giants) April 28, 2019
Big George was the fifth Wildcat to get a call from an NFL team this season, and he’s ready to get to work. After the news broke, he posted on Instagram, saying “Excited to be back in New York & go to work! God has blessed me so much and it’s only right that I take advantage of my opportunity!”
He’ll be joined by fellow Wildcat CJ Conrad inside MetLife Stadium.
This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee. As a die-hard sports fan, this has always been a dream of mine to attend the draft. The atmosphere was incredible, and here are my major takeaways from my experience in Music City.
1. People Really, Really Don’t Like Roger Goodell
Look, I know this may be a universal truth at this point. However, you really don’t understand the hate for this man until you experience it firsthand. We hear him get booed loudly at every draft over the TV, but it was truly astonishing to witness him get booed by 200,000 thousand people during the first round on Thursday night.
Booing Roger Goodell on draft night is as American as Apple Piepic.twitter.com/Zacal4dNHE
— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweetss) April 26, 2019
Trust me when I say that video does absolutely no justice to just how loud the booing was. And it didn’t last just for the first few picks either. Oh no. Every. Single. Time Goodell appeared on the stage, a tidal wave of boos rained down from thousands of fans.
In fact, things only got worse as the night went on. Remember, the draft stage was literally on Broadway. There is at least 15 different bars within the length of two football fields from the podium where Goodell announced the picks. To put this clearly: The more that people drank, the more emotion they put into their boos.
I do not think it’s my place to decide if the man deserves that level of hatred. Personally, I do not like him just as much as the next guy, but I’m not totally sure that any normal person like him deserves to experience that. Either way, he is a grown man and he handled the night as well as he could have. Oh yea, Clemson’s Christian Wilkins basically tackling Goodell was one of the best moments of the first round. The commissioner’s reaction was great.
— The NFL Checkdown (@NFLCheckdown) April 28, 2019
2. Nashville Should Host the Draft Every Year
In the last four years, the draft has been in four different locations: Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Nashville. While I’m sure the first three cities did a great job of hosting (Philly in particular), there is simply no way they can even begin to compare to the atmosphere in Nashville.
— ESPN (@espn) April 26, 2019
Believe it or not, I’m somewhere down in that huge mass of humanity having the absolute time of my life with thousands of other fans. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. You had famous media personalities giving their expert analysis in literal bars, on-air announcers could not hear each other talk due to the constant music blaring everywhere you turned, and Taylor Swift and Jason Aldean were literally on rooftops waving at people.
You are not going to find that kind of atmosphere any other place in the country, I guarantee it. I fully realize that the NFL likes to move the draft around the country so multiple cities can experience an economic spike. However, why on Earth you move away from a market this profitable?? Having the NFL in the true South where football is king is just common sense.
Fans proved their love for the game and there is no doubt that even NFL officials were surprised with the turnout considering it poured rain for the first hour and a half of the first round.
Keep the draft in Nashville for the next few years. The town showed it was a great host and that it’s truly one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.
3. Pat McAfee Won the Draft
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) April 27, 2019
If you don’t know who Pat McAfee is, well, now you do. The former Colts punter is a famous social media personality due to his hysterical analysis of specific sports plays. He is so funny that he has even been able to announce a few games himself.
Of course, the NFL wisely selected him to announce one of Indianapolis’ draft picks, and as you saw above he did not disappoint. What you did not see however was the crowd’s reaction. This was pretty late into the third round so many fans were beginning to leave. Once they heard McAfee everyone literally stopped dead in their tracks and watched McAfee.
The man just oozes charisma. He has pitch-perfect comedic timing and his analysis is always excellent. People literally were standing in the middle of the street smiling as they watched him announce the pick. I know this probably is not realistic, but this is the guy who should be replacing Jason Witten (who was terrible) on Monday Night Football. People will love this man and ratings will go up. Its incredibly unlikely, but one can dream.
4. The “Bachelorette Situation” Was Hysterical to Witness
— FoxNashville (@FOXNashville) April 26, 2019
By now, I’m sure that you have seen these two women all over social media. In case you didn’t already know this, Nashville is the bachelorette party capital of this country. Trust me when I say this: Those two were not the only women incredibly ticked off in Nashville this weekend.
There were dozens of different bachelorette groups that I saw on Broadway during Thursday and Friday night’s portion of the draft. Of course, I did not spot a single person out of these people who was having a good time. They actually put a bit of damper on the atmosphere on Broadway
Do I feel bad for these women who wanted to have one of the best nights of their lives, and instead they had to put up with thousands of people in every bar? The answer is of course no. Be a better bridesmaid/maid of honor and actually do your research on what’s going on in the place you are having the party at. Common sense is rare these days, but I mean come on ladies. Be better.
You just really hate to see it.
5. Every NFL Fan Should Attend At Least One Draft
My biggest and most important takeaway from this experience is that if you are a big fan of a specific team, then you need to go to at least one NFL Draft in your lifetime. I am personally a fan of the Oakland Raiders (I know, life is rough right now) and I wore my Raiders t-shirt basically all weekend long.
What is so awesome about the draft is that every team has hundreds of fans there supporting their squad. Literally any time I passed a Raiders fan, they always gave me a fist-pump and yelled “Raider Nation!!!” Likewise, I had a friend with me who was a Cincinnati Bengals fan (haha) and every time we came across a fellow Bengals fan they always yelled “WHO DEY??”
Is there something kind of cult-like about all of this? Yes, but all jokes aside its awesome to see strangers who share a common interest treat each other excellently. For example, my group was right beside a bunch of Denver Broncos fans right before they traded the No. 10 pick. We had a 10-minute long conversation withe them about what John Elway should do with the pick and the direction of the franchise. It was refreshing to meet strangers who were not complete jerks.
It’s the little moments like that which will make my experience that much more memorable. One of the main purposes of sports is to bring people together and that’s exactly the opportunity the NFL Draft provides its fans every year. The league may have several problems, but the draft is not one of them. If you are a fan of the NFL, I only hope that you may one day have the same experience that I was fortunate enough to experience.
It’s just different in the South.
The NFL announced that over 600,000 people descended upon Nashville this weekend for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Nashville sets new #NFLDraft attendance record.
Over a half MILLION fans partied downtown over the last three days. pic.twitter.com/5mADemtcCE
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) April 27, 2019
The crowd number was first reported at 500,000, but it was later updated to 600,000. Nashville’s outing crushed the competition – the previous record was set by Philadelphia with 250,000 people in 2017.
Organizers for the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp estimated a crowd of over 200,000 on Thursday and Friday during the first two rounds.
“We lived up to the hype,” Tennessee Titans General Manager Jon Robinson said during a news conference.
You’re on the clock, Las Vegas.