The writers over at Saturday Down South have been running through all of the positions and listing the top SEC returners for next season. They’ve already listed the top returners at wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, and running back. The only Wildcat to make those lists is Benny Snell, who comes in at number 7 of all returning running backs in the SouthEastern Conference.
Tonight, Saturday Down South writer William McFadden listed the top returning linebackers in the SEC and Kentucky’s own Jordan Jones claimed the top spot on the list. On top of that, UK’s Josh Allen came in at number 5 on the list as well. Here’s what SDS had to say about the two returning linebackers for the Wildcats.
On Jordan Jones:
No. 1: Jordan Jones, Kentucky — 2016 stats (109 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 4 sacks)
Jones led all returning SEC defenders in tackles and tackles for loss in 2016 as a sophomore, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t continue to improve next season. With outside linebackers Allen and Ware providing the majority of Kentucky’s pass rush, Jones was asked to handle the interior of the defense. He accomplished that task by garnering over eight tackles per game and knifing into opposing backfields to stop players behind the line of scrimmage.
On Josh Allen:
No. 5: Josh Allen, Kentucky — 2016 stats (62 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 7 sacks)
Another skilled pass rusher, Allen led Kentucky in sacks and showed a lot of speed coming off the edge. Along with Denzil Ware and Jordan Jones, Allen makes up a very underrated linebacker corps that could be among the best in the conference. The rising junior, who was seventh on the team in total tackles, can improve his ability as a run defender, but he’s already a valuable pass rusher with a lot of remaining upside.
In a conference that is known for being able to keep the talent rolling in year after year, for Kentucky to have two guys in the top 5 returners in the most important position on the defensive side of the ball is a huge testament to what Mark Stoops and staff have been doing with this roster. Kentucky fans would’ve dreamed to have a player on any of these lists just a few seasons ago.
If you want to read the entire list of top returners in the SEC, you can view it here.