Kentucky will have its full roster for the upcoming TaxSlayer Gator Bowl—no new opt-outs, no leaving teammates behind to prepare for the draft or pursue other opportunities.
Kelvin Joseph is still gone from his departure prior to the end of the regular season, and reserve cornerback MJ Devonshire transferred to Pitt, but of the guys who contributed and were still on the roster when the regular season ended, they’re all back for one more run.
Senior center Drake Jackson is among the group of players who could’ve passed on more football to protect his NFL future, but he is eager to wear his University of Kentucky checkerboards one last time.
“After the South Carolina win, we were all excited, we were happy, I was happy, but I didn’t want that to be the last game,” said Jackson after Tuesday’s practice. “Look, bowl games are fun, it’s a little vacation, there’s no doubt about that. But we’re on a business trip. Getting a bowl win is such a great feeling that I think everybody wants to get that one more time.”
Asked how Kentucky managed to keep its roster together when other programs saw postseason opt-outs, Jackson pointed to the 2018 Citrus Bowl when two of UK’s all-time greats suited up when they were projected high on NFL draft boards.
“You look back at the Citrus Bowl and that was kind of when that movement was starting, and you look at guys like Josh Allen and Benny Snell and quite a few others on that team, and nobody opted out,” Jackson explained. “I think that set the tone, at least for a lot of the older guys that are here right now, that our standard is we want to play in that bowl game and we want to treat every game like it’s a big deal, because it is.
“Of course guys are trying to do what’s best for them, but there is so much pride that a lot of us have, to try to play one more game for Kentucky and get that win.”
Also from Tuesday evening’s discussion with UK’s All-SEC center, Jackson talked about lining up against NC State’s Alim McNeill, an All-American defensive tackle in that unorthodox 3-3-5 defense. Hear Jackson explain what he expects from the Wolfpack and more in the video below.
He’s great, healed up and his body feels like its at the beginning of a new season following the time off. Have a listen…