Mark Stoops’ first season was a struggle most of the time, but the following 6 players kept the boat afloat through the toughest of times. The good news is that only Avery Williamson and Donte Rumph are leaving after the season, giving Stoops some DESPERATELY needed experience.
Avery Williamson, MLB– Selected All-SEC 2nd team by ESPN, the AP, SEC coaches, and Athlon Sports; selected first-team All-SEC by College Sports Madness. The Senior leader that was a Captain in all 12 games this past season, finished his Wildcat career with 296 tackles for the Cats. His 102 tackles this year were 4th in the SEC. Avery has consistently been at the top of SEC tackling lists, consistently proving naysayers wrong. He moved his way up on many of these lists after being most services listed him on their third-team in the preseason. Avery hopes he can move up some draft boards during the offseason, currently projected as a 7th round pick.
Donte Rumph, DT– Selected All-SEC 2nd team by Athlon Sports. This was the first career postseason honor for Rumph, who had his best season with the Wildcats as a senior with 47 tackles. The senior added six tackles for loss, two sacks, two quarterback hurries and one fumble forced. Rumph led UK in tackles two times on the year, posting a career-high 10 stops against Vanderbilt and Tennessee.
Jon Toth, C– Selected Freshmen All-SEC by League Coaches at Center.
Bud Dupree, DE– Selected All-SEC 2nd team by the AP; College Sports Madness named him 3rd team All-SEC. Bud had a stellar season after moving down to the defensive line. Normally that would put a big dent in one’s tackle stats, but not Bud; his 61 tackles were the most by an SEC defensive lineman. Bud also tallied a team-high 7 sacks.
Za’Darius Smith, DE– Selected All-SEC 3rd team by College Sports Madness. Z’s first full-time season of SEC football was a success. He finished 3rd on the team with 59 tackles, and only loss to Bud by 1 sack, tacking opposing QBs down 6 times. After starting hot with 3 sacks against Miami, the grind may have gotten to Za’Darius. With an offseason of preparation ahead, it will be exciting to see just how great Z can be next year.
Landon Foster, P– ESPN added foster to their ALL-SEC underclassmen team. Landon went through his first career “lull” during mid-season, but managed to finish strong with a career-high 59 yarder against Vanderbilt. Even though he struggled for a bit, he still managed a 41.3 yard average and had 7 punts go past 50 yards.