We miss our friend Jared. He loved the game of football. He loved the Kentucky Wildcats even more. The Kentucky Sports Radio Football Department thought that we’d honor Jared Lorenzen by naming the end-of-year awards after the most beloved left hander to ever wear the blue and white.
* Please note: In order to prevent repetitive winners, we placed parameters on a couple categories with the most obvious choices such as the offensive (Bowden) and special team (Duffy) players of the year. Voters are: Nick Roush, Adam Luckett, and me.
Most Outstanding Player
Roush: Max Du— Just kidding, it’s Lynn Bowden. It’s hard to imagine what Kentucky’s season would have been with Bowden. We’ll never see anything like it ever again.
Luckett: Lynn Bowden literally carried (1,235 rushing yards) the team to seven wins. His 10 rushes of 30-plus yards ranked fourth nationally and he was the ultimate alpha dog per Mark Stoops. He had an all-time season that was rightfully recognized with first-team All-American honors.
Maggard: Lynn Bowden had one of, if not the most spectacular season in the history of Kentucky football. The receiver turned quarterback rushed for 1,235 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. He was also the team’s leading receiver with 30 receptions, 348 yards and 1 touchdown. The Hornung Award winner was the best all-around football player in America. Numbers aside, Bowden rejuvenated his team into wins by out-gutting its opponents.
Most Outstanding Offensive Player
Roush: The Big Blue Wall. I can’t choose just one offensive lineman. They were all incredible throughout the season.
Luckett: G Logan Stenberg. The man in the middle of UK’s Big Blue Wall was the best player on the line and he constantly created running lanes for UK’s ballcarriers. The All-SEC selection is off to the Senior Bowl following one more collegiate game to wrap up a crazy productive career.
Maggard: C Drake Jackson. UK’s offensive line rotation included all positions other than center. Drake played at an All-SEC level and did so during the most reps. He’s the anchor to an offensive line that gained a nickname, the Big Blue Wall. Drake Jackson is the best Kentucky center in my lifetime (50+ years).
Most Outstanding Defensive Player
Roush: DT Calvin Taylor Jr. It’s hard to be a playmaker from the interior of the defensive line, and he did just that as one of the SEC’s best overall pass rushers.
Luckett: DT Calvin Taylor Jr. Perhaps the best development project of the Mark Stoops era turned into one of college football’s most productive interior lineman in 2019. Taylor’s 7.5 sacks had him in the hunt for the SEC lead and his three forced fumbles were evidence of his playmaking ability. As a young defense found their way, No. 91 was a steadying force in all 12 games.
Maggard: OLB Boogie Watson registered 33 total tackles, 9.5 tackles-for-loss, 7 QB hurries, and 6.5 QB sacks. Often double teamed, Watson flashed in certain passing situations.
Most Outstanding Special Teamer
Roush: When Drew Schlegel is in the game, it’s must-watch football. On every opening kickoff he set the tone. It takes a special type of person to go Between the Hedges and mix it up with a couple of Bulldogs after a touchback.
Luckett: Kicker Grant McKiniss. The former punter turned kickoff specialist ranked fifth in the SEC in touchback rate and constantly delivered placement accuracy whenever short kicks were called. He also served as the holder on field goals and didn’t have a botched snap snafu all year. He was quietly a really important piece for the third phase
Maggard: Long snapper Black Best. Snapped on field goal/PAT’s and punts. Academic All-American. Best’s consistency and error-free play kept his name out of the headlines. Exactly what you want in a long-snapper.
Best Play of 2019
Roush: Lynn Bowden’s 24-yard touchdown run against Arkansas was his third of the night, putting the Cats up for good in a must-win game against the Razorbacks on Jared Lorenzen Day. That play is just a small sample of what Bowden did this year for the team. More importantly, it proved Bowden Ball could work for the rest of the season. Fans may not have been convinced immediately, but the coaches knew they could trust the offense in Lynn’s hands.
Luckett: Lynn Bowden’s run to ice the Arkansas win that was stopped on the 22-yard line. Heading into the Arkansas game there was a lot on the line. In what seemed to be a must-win situation, they were going to a wide receiver at quarterback full-time. Despite a slow start, Bowden balled out with 196 rushing yards and a passing touchdown. After a big defensive stop, UK’s star iced the game with one final run that ended on the 22-yard line on Jared Lorenzen Day. The play secured a big win and gave UK a blueprint that would to a 4-2 record to close the season.
Maggard: Lynn Bowden’s 60-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter of the Governor’s Cup. Kentucky had dominated the game but was up just 17-13. Bowden’s scoring jaunt was just the beginning of a dominating performance by the Wildcats.
Most Outstanding Assistant Coach
Roush: This is the most difficult choice. Michael Smith kept the receivers engaged even though they weren’t catching passes. Derrick LeBlanc has transformed the defensive line into the strength of the defense in three seasons. Injuries forced Eddie Gran to completely change his offense, again. With all that being said, I gotta give the nod to Steve Clinkscale. Coach Clink has done a bang-up job on the recruiting trail in Michigan and took an inexperienced secondary and made them one of the best pass defenses in America.
Luckett: Defensive coordinator Brad White. UK’s first year defensive play-caller had a really difficult job entering the season. The secondary was gutted after last year and there were a few young players being relied on in the front seven. Despite all of that, White built one of the sport’s best pass defenses in addition to another top-15 scoring defense. He’s a future coaching star and the play of his group allowed Bowden Ball to be successful.
Maggard: Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran. The Cats rushed for a school-best 3293 yards with a receiver under the center after its first and second-team quarterback were injured, which was preceded by two QB’s transferring from the program. Amazing. Gran schemed every way imaginable to gain yards in a one-dimensional scheme. Kentucky’s ground game prowess was on full display in the Governor’s Cup when it rushed for 517 yards in its season finale.
Most Outstanding Opposing Player
Roush: Tennessee LB Daniel Bituli might not have been the most-talented person Kentucky played, but he absolutely crushed the Cats. The Tennessee linebacker had 19 tackles, including the stuff at the goal line that prevented Lynn Bowden from scoring the go-ahead touchdown with a minute to play.
Luckett: RB D’Andre Swift, Georgia. Playing in monsoon conditions, UK and UGA quickly found themselves in a defensive slugfest where each side was just waiting for the other to make a mistake. A 0-0 tie was a real possibility until Swift took over with 179 yards on 8.52 yards per carry and two scores. He literally carried UGA to victory and had another career day against UK. Mark Stoops cannot wait for him to turn pro.
Maggard: QB Kyle Trask, Florida. Down 21-10, Trask came off the bench to complete 9-of-13 passes as the Gators scored 19 unanswered points for the win. The Franks injury changed the course of the game and eventually Florida’s season.
Stoops Award (Toughest Player)
Roush: It’s gotta be Lynn Bowden. The man took an absolute beating play after play but never flinched. Kentucky isn’t 7-5 without Bowden’s toughness.
Luckett: Lynn Bowden. This one was pretty easy for me. UK’s slot receiver turned into one of the sport’s most dependable rushers to end the season and that required him to carry the ball at least 20 times in four of the final seven games. He constantly took big hits and played through what appeared to be multiple ankle issues. He rushed for over 195 yards three times and blazed the trail for UK’s single-season team rushing record. He’s a bad mama jama.
Maggard: Kash Daniel. Was injured, missed some time, and played after losing his grandfather during the season. Respect.