Friday, December 27, 2019

Kentucky's All-Decade Team: The best Wildcats of the 2010s

By DEREK TERRY 20 hours ago


LEXINGTON, Ky. — In the late 2000s, Kentucky football was on a historical bowl streak. Rich Brooks retired following the 2009 season, having led the Wildcats to four straight bowl games. Joker Phillips took over in 2010 and took Kentucky to its fifth consecutive bowl, but the 2010s did not go well in the first half of the decade. 

The 2011 team went 5-7 and the bottom completely fell out in 2012 as Kentucky went 2-10, 0-8 in the SEC. Mark Stoops replaced Phillps in 2013 and had three losing seasons of his own before turning the corner in 2016. Kentucky has won at least seven games in the regular season in each of the past four seasons. The Wildcats' 10-3 season in 2018 was the best since the 1970s. 

As we leave the 2010s and enter a new decade, Kentucky’s football program has maybe never been in a better spot. Most of the Wildcats’ roster this year will be back next year, plus a top-25 recruiting class is set to join the fold. formed an all-decade team to recognize those whose contributions helped shape Kentucky football over the past 10 years. 

*Editor’s note: Players on this list must have played at least one season this decade. A few players on this list only played in 2010, but a truly outstanding season was enough to put them on this list. 


QUARTERBACK: Mike Hartline

Stephen Johnson and Terry Wilson were quarterbacks on teams that won bigger and more important games over the decade, but it’s tough to go against Mike Hartline statistically. After a knee injury cut his junior season short, Hartline returned as a senior and completed 66 percent of his passes, threw for 3,178 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He was honored as the National Quarterback of the Week after throwing for four touchdowns in a come-from-behind win over No. 9 South Carolina in 2010. It was Kentucky’s first win against Steve Spurrier. 

Honorable mention: Stephen Johnson

RUNNING BACK: Benny Snell 

Easy choice, right? Benny Snell rewrote the record books in his three seasons in Lexington. He tied or broke 14 records while at UK, and is the school leader in rushing yards (3,873), touchdowns (48) and 100-yard rushing games (19). Snell joined Georgia legend Herschel Walker as the only two players in SEC history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in each of his first three seasons. 

Honorable mention: Boom Williams 

WIDE RECEIVERS: Randall Cobb, Lynn Bowden and Chris Matthews

Cobb and Bowden both have strong cases as all-purpose players. Cobb played quarterback at times in his UK career, but his 2010 season is the only one counted here. He had 84 catches for 1,017 yards and seven touchdowns his junior season. Out of the ‘Wildcat’ he rushed 55 times for 424 yards and five touchdowns. Cobb earned first-team All-SEC honors as an all-purpose player. 

Bowden’s legend was cemented this season as a quarterback. He led the Wildcats to a 5-2 record after taking over midseason, but he was also the best receiver on Kentucky’s 10-win 2018 team. Bowden had 67 catches for 745 yards and five touchdowns. Add in two punt returns for touchdowns, and Bowden had an excellent sophomore season. 
Chris Matthews might be considered a surprise on this list. However, his 2010 season is hard to ignore considering how much of a struggle it was for Kentucky to throw the ball for most of the decade. Matthews had 61 catches for 925 yards and nine touchdowns his senior season. His nine touchdowns were the most in a single season by any receiver the past 10 years. 

Honorable mention: Garrett Johnson, La'Rod King 

Another position that didn’t take much thought. Conrad started 42 games over his four-year career and finished with 80 catches, 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns. His 12 touchdown receptions are the second most for any UK tight end. It didn’t show up in his career stats, but Conrad was an excellent blocker who helped Kentucky set rushing records from 2015-18. 

Honorable mention: Jordan Aumiller 

OFFENSIVE LINE: Landon Young, Larry Warford, Drake Jackson, Bunchy Stallings, George Asafo-Adjei 


This is a more difficult position to evaluate but this group is full of All-SEC players and All-Americans. Larry Warford earned All-SEC honors in some capacity each of his four seasons. Bunchy Stallings was a first-team All-American and All-SEC as a senior. Drake Jackson, who has one year left after this year, was just named All-SEC first team at center after a standout junior season. George Asafo-Adjei played in 48 games and earned SEC offensive lineman of the week multiple times. Young has been a key contributor since stepping on campus and is one of the SEC’s best left tackles. 

Honorable mention: Jon Toth, Logan Stenberg 


DEFENSIVE LINE: Denzil Ware, Quinton Bohanna, Cory Johnson 


Denzil Ware elected to finish his career elsewhere, but he was one of the Wildcats’ best defenders as a sophomore and junior. He finished his career with 157 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. He was named preseason All-SEC Second Team going into his junior season and ended that year on Phil Steele’s All-SEC Third Team. Quinton Bohanna has been the anchor at nose guard the past few years. CJ Johnson’s senior year in 2015 was solid. He had a career-high 19 tackles against EKU and finished the year with 67 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks. 


Honorable mention: Za’Darius Smith, Calvin Taylor Jr. 

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: Bud Dupree and Josh Allen

Two more easy selections. Josh Allen is arguably the best defensive player in school history. Allen swept the national defensive player of the year awards in 2018 as he was honored with the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Ronnie Lott IMPACT Trophy and the Jack Lambert Award. He broke Kentucky’s school record for sacks with 31.5 and was the first consensus All-American at UK since 2002. Allen was drafted seventh overall in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. 


Bud Dupree is also an all-time great at the school. He had 247 tackles in four seasons with 39.5 tackles for loss and 25.5 sacks. His fourth-quarter interception return for a touchdown against South Carolina in 2014 gave Stoops his first big win in Lexington. Dupree was a first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015. 

Honorable mention: Boogie Watson 

INSIDE LINEBACKER: Avery Williamson and Danny Trevathan 

Danny Trevathan was a tackling machine over his final three seasons. He collected 82 tackles as a sophomore, 144 tackles (SEC-leading tackler) as a junior and 143 tackles as a senior. He finished his career with 374 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and four interceptions. Trevathan was All-SEC multiple times during his UK career. 
Avery Williamson became the leader of the defense after Trevathan graduated. In 2012, Williamson had 135 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. Williamson was an All-SEC second-team selection in 2013. 

Honorable mention: Jordan Jones, Josh Forrest 

CORNERBACK: Derrick Baity and Chris Westry
Derrick Baity was a four-year starter at Kentucky and totaled 148 tackles, 25 PBUs, 6.0 TFL, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two quarterback hurries in his career. Chris Westry started all 12 games his freshman year and earned SEC Freshman All-SEC honors after recording 36 tackles, one sack and two interceptions.

Honorable mention: J.D. Harmon, Lonnie Johnson 

SAFETY: Mike Edwards and Winston Guy 

Mike Edwards started the final 44 games of his career and never missed a game while he was a Wildcat. He finished his career with 318 tackles, placing him second all-time in tackles for a defensive back at UK. Edwards earned All-SEC honors in each of his final three seasons. Edwards was drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Winston Guy, a Lexington native, recorded 226 tackles during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. He had 18 tackles for loss in those years and five interceptions. He was a second-team All-SEC selection as a senior in 2011. 

Honorable mention: Darius West



Kicker: Austin MacGinnis

Punter: Max Duffy

Two of the best specialists in UK history played this decade. Austin MacGinnis drilled two game-winning field goals in 2016 to help the Wildcats reach a bowl game for the first time since 2010. He finished his career as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 359 career points. MacGinnis made 51 of 64 field goal attempts and 102 of 104 extra points from 2014 to 2017. 

Max Duffy was the nation’s best punter in 2019 and finished as the Ray Guy Award winner. Duffy is UK’s all-time leading career punter at 46.47 yards on 107 kicks. Duffy earned first-team All-SEC honors by the AP, first-team All-America by the FWAA and was a second-team choice by the league coaches.

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