Following Stephen Johnson’s announcement, it gave Kentucky another big JUCO transfer. In the last decade or so, there have been several key players that came in from a junior college. Here are the top five of that time.
#5- Javess Blue
An ESPN JC Top 50 player from Butler Community College, Blue made an immediate impact in 2013. Blue was Kentucky’s leading receiver with 43 catches for 586 yards as a junior. As a senior, Blue added 29 catches for 525 yards to cross over 1,000 total receiving yards in his career. Blue started 20 of his 22 games as a Cat. Following his two seasons at UK, Blue signed with the Packers as an undrafted free agent in 2015.
He also reeled in one of the more impressive catches I’ve seen in person.
#4 Chris Matthews
Matthews reeled in a career-high 61 receptions as a senior in 2010. The Los Angeles Harbor College product caught 93 passes in his career for 1,279 yards and 12 touchdowns. Matthews played in two bowl games and caught one touchdown in the 2009 Music City Bowl. Following his graduation at UK, Matthews became a phenomenon in the NFL. Matthews caught two huge passes for the Seahawks in the 2015 Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. After being cut by the Seahawks in November, Matthews caught his first touchdown in the NFL for the Ravens.
#3 Cory Johnson
A premier defensive tackle, Johnson signed with Kentucky from ASA College in Pennsylvania. Johnson saw a huge improvement from his junior season into his senior season. After totaling ten tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2014, Johnson flipped the switch in 2015. The senior DT had 67 tackles and two sacks as a senior. His career-high in tackles came when he brought down 19 EKU Colonels in an overtime win. Johnson was voted Second Team All-SEC and will most likely have a chance in the NFL.
He even found his way into the end-zone this season and picked off a pass.
#2 Za’Darius Smith
“Big Z” was rated as the #2 defensive end in all of JUCO in 2013. He showed that ranking was merited in his two seasons in Lexington. Playing with Bud Dupree on the d-line, Smith totaled 120 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 10.5 sacks. Smith’s speed to the backfield and run-stopping ability helped him to get drafted in the 4th round of the 2015 Draft by the Ravens. In his rookie season, Smith finished with 30 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
Za’Darius and Bud were fierce on the d-line.
#1 Steve Johnson
No JUCO transfer changed games like Stevie Johnson did in his two seasons at UK. In his senior season alone, Johnson caught 61 passes for 1,052 yards and 13 touchdowns. Of those 13 touchdown, Johnson recorded two of the biggest scores in UK history. His game-winning grabs against Louisville and LSU will never be forgotten by Kentucky fans. In eight NFL seasons, Johnson has 381 receptions for nearly 5,000 career yards and 34 touchdowns.
But let’s never forget his biggest moment.
These players are just from the last decade. Who are your top five?