With the decade coming to a close we take a crack at forming the Kentucky Football all-decade team.
The past decade had it’s up’s and down’s for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Kentucky had a pair of two win seasons but also reached five bowl-games and put together a 10 win season for the first time in 41 years in 2018.
With plenty of outstanding players having put on the Blue and White this decade, we formed an all-decade team. Here’s a look.
Quarterback: Stephen Johnson
When discussing players that helped turn Kentucky Football into a winner, Stephen Johnson has to be part of the conversation.
After transferring to Kentucky in 2016, Johnson spent nearly two seasons as the Wildcats starter. Johnson went 12-10 as a starter for the Wildcats leading the team to two bowl games, an upset victory over No. 11 Louisville in 2016, and won eight games in SEC play.
Johnson threw for over 2,000 yards in both of his seasons at Kentucky and added at least 300 rushing yards both years.
He finished his Wildcat carer with 4,342 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns with 702 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
Running Back: Benny Snell
Not only was Benny Snell the best running back of the decade for the Kentucky Wildcats, but he was the best in program history.
Snell finished his three-year college carer as Kentucky’s all-time leading rusher with 3,873 yards and the program’s all-time rushing touchdown leader with 48.
In all three of Snell’s seasons with Kentucky, the team would reach bowl games. The Ohio native played a huge role in Kentucky’s 10 win 2018 season as he rushed for 1,449 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Among the accolades, Snell earned while at Kentucky were two AP First-Team SEC honors, AP Third-Team All-American mention 2018, and Freshman All-American honor.
The program’s all-time leading rusher was also named 2019 Citrus Bowl MVP in his final college game after rushing for 144 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wildcats past Penn State on New Year’s Day.
Snell’s historic college carer was rewarded in the 2019 NFL Draft when he was taken in the fourth round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Wide Receivers: Lynn Bowden, Randall Cobb & Garrett Johnson
Of the three best receivers of the decade for Kentucky, two spent time at quarterback.
Despite only his final college season of 2010 coming in the 2010s, Randall Cobb makes the team after catching 84 passes for 1,017 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior. Cobb also added 424 rushing yards and five touchdowns and three passing touchdowns. These big numbers earned him his second carer, First-Team All-SEC honor and only First-Team All American honor.
The other Kentucky receiver to also play quarterback to make the squad is Lynn Bowden. Bowden’s college carer got off to a rough start as he caught just 17 passes for 210 yards in his freshman season of 2017. Despite this, he was still named to the SEC freshman first-team as a return man. As a sophomore in 2018, Bowden turned a corner. The former four-star prospect racked team-high 67 catches for 745 yards and five touchdowns. He would also add a pair of punt-return touchdowns, which landed him a second-team All-SEC honor. As a junior in 2019, Bowden started the season at receiver, where he recorded a team-high 348 yards and two touchdown receptions. After injuries to Terry Wilson and Sawyer Smith, Bowden moved to the quarterback position where he guided the Wildcats to a 5-2 regular-season record with 1,235 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns. Bowden was named the Paul Hornung Award winner given to the nation’s most versatile player, a consensus All-American and First-Team All-SEC honor. Cobb would be drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft and is now with the Dallas Cowboys.
Rounding at the receiving corps is Garett “Juice” Johnson. Johnson spent four seasons at Kentucky, where he finished fourth in program history with 2,089 receiving yards, fifth with 155 receptions. His most memorable moment came during Kentucky’s 2016 victory over Louisville, where Johnson made five catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns to help the Cats pull off a massive upset.
Tight End: CJ Conrad
CJ Conrad is another player that helped turn the Kentucky football program back into a winner.
In his four seasons with Kentucky, Conrad racked in 1,015 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. His 12 touchdowns rank second only behind James Whalen (1997-1999) for the most all-time by a Wildcat tight end.
Perhaps his most impressive accomplishment was taking home the 2018 Pop Warner National College Football Award, which recognizes a graduating player who has made a difference on the field, in the classroom and community.
Offensive Lineman: Landon Young, Larry Warford, Drake Jackson, Bunchy Stallings & George Asafo-Adjei
It’s hard to find a college program with more success on the offensive line this decade than Kentucky.
The all-decade team starts at left tackle with current starter Landon Young. Young, who’s currently a redshirt junior, has already had an impressive college carer. As a freshman in 2016, he 27 knockdown blocks, and in 2017 he helped block for first-team SEC running back Benny Snell. After missing all of 2018 with an ACL injury, he came back stronger in 2019 as he helped Kentucky finish fourth in the nation and first in the SEC in rushing. More importantly, Young was named captain of the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, honoring players who volunteer in their community.
At left guard is Larry Warford. Warford played at Kentucky from 2009-2011. In both 2010 and 2011, he was named to both the All-SEC second team and All-American second teams. He currently is a starter with the New Orleans Saints.
The man in the middle is current Kentucky starter Drake Jackson. Jackson took over as Kentucky’s starting center six games into the 2017 season and has held the position ever since. As a junior in 2019, Jackson was named the AP All SEC First Team center.
At right guard is Bunchy Stallings. Stallings took over as a starter as a junior in 2017 playing at both guard and center. In 2018, Stallings was named an AP First-Team All-American.
Finally at right tackle is George Asafo-Adjei. Asafo-Adjei broke out as a senior in 2018 he was named a team captain, took home two-time SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors and did not make one assignment error on each snap he played.
— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) September 12, 2018
Defensive Lineman: Za’Darius Smith, Quinton Bohanna & Calvin Taylor
The all-decade defensive line starts with Za’Darius Smith.
After transferring to Kentucky for his final two years of college elgibility, Smith recorded 11 sacks, 119 total tackles, forced two fumbles and defended three passes. He is now one of the NFL’s most feared pass rushers with the Green Bay Packers.
Starting at nose tackle is current Kentucky starter Quinton Bohanna. In his first 23 college games, the junior has recorded two sacks, seven tackles for a loss, defended a pass and recovered a fumble.
Rounding out the defensive line is 6-9 defensive end, Calvin Taylor. Taylor began to break out as a junior in 2018 when he recorded 26 total tackles, including six for a loss and one being a sack with a forced fumble. In his senior season of 2019, Taylor emerged as one of the SEC’s best pass-rushers as he enters bowl season second in the conference with eight sacks. Taylor also forced three fumbles and defended four passes in 2019. He will play in his final game as a Wildcat Tuesday.
Outside Linebackers: Josh Allen & Bud Dupree
Two of the best players to put on the Blue and White are Kentucky’s two best outside linebackers of the decade.
Some could argue that Josh Allen is the best player in Kentucky Football history. Allen spent four seasons with the Wildcats recording a program-record 31.5 sacks. As a senior in 2018, Allen helped Kentucky win 10 games with one of the most historic seasons in SEC history. Allen recorded an incredible 17 sacks, forced five fumbles and defended four passes. These numbers earned Allen Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named a consensus All-American. After finishing his legendary college carer, he was drafted seventh overall in the 2019 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
At the other outside linebacker spot is another eventual NFL first-round draft pick, Bud Dupree. Dupree played for the Wildcats from 2011-2014 and recorded 25.5 sacks, 39.5 tackles for a loss, and five forced fumbles. As a senior in 2014, Dupree was named First-Team All-SEC after recording 9.5 sacks. That season he also produced one of the more memorable moments of the decade with an interception return touchdown to defeat South Carolina in front of a rocking Commonwealth Stadium crowd. Thanks to an outstanding college carer, Dupree was drafted 18th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Inside Linebackers: Avery Williamson & Danny Trevathan
The inside linebacker position for Kentucky’s all-decade team features two current NFL starters.
Avery Williamson played at Kentucky from 2010-2013. In his college carer, Williamson recorded 296 total tackles, four sacks, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. Williamson was named second-team All-SEC in 2013 after a season that saw him make 135 total tackles, three sacks, and grab an interception. After leaving UK, Williamson was drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans. He now plays for the New York Jets whom he signed with before the 2018 season.
The other middle linebacker to make the team is Danny Trevathan. Trevathan played at Kentucky from 2008-2011. Both of his best seasons came during this decade as in 2010, he was named First-Team All-SEC after making 144 total tackles and forcing four fumbles. He was named second-team All-SEC in 2011 with 143 total tackles and five forced fumble. He would go onto to be drafted in the sixth of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, where he helped the team win Super Bowl 50. Trevathan now plays for the Chicago Bears after signing a four-year contract before the 2016 season.
Cornerbacks: Derrick Baity & Lonnie Johnson
At the corner position are a pair of starters for Kentucky’s 2018 10 win season.
Derrick Baity started nearly his entire four years at Kentucky. In his college carer the 6-3 corner made 148 total tackles, six interceptions and forced two fumbles. He is now on the New York Giants practice squad.
Lonnie Johnson transfered to Kentucky before the 2017 season for his final two seasons of college elbibility. Johnson defended nine passes as a Wildcat, forced a fumble and even recorded a sack. His lone interception for the Wildcats came during the team’s 2019 Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State. After impressing in his two year’s with the Cats, Johnson was drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans.
Safeties: Mike Edwards & Darius West
Kentucky’s best safties of the decade both were part of the team’s remarkable 2018 senior class.
Mike Edwards started nearly all four years that he was in action for the Cats. In his carer Edwards recorded 317 total tackles with 21 coming for a loss. He also grabbed 10 interceptions and returned two for touchdowns in addition to both forcing and recovering a fumble. Edwards was named an AP second-team All-SEC honor as a senior in 2018 after recording 82 total tackles with 9.5 coming for a loss and grabbing two interceptions with one being a touchdown. His strong college carer led him to be selected in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Darius West missed the entire 2016 season with a knee injury but still managed to record 188 carer tackles with four interceptions and a fumble recovery touchdown in his three years as a starter for the Cats.
Kicker: Austin MacGinnis
The kicker for the all-decade team is Austin MacGinnis, who kicked for the Cats from 2014-2017.
In his four seasons with the Cats, MacGinnis went 102-104 on extra-point attempts and 51-64 on field goals. He was named a consensus first-team All-SECC selection in each of his four seasons with Kentucky and broke the UK single-season record for field goals in 22 in 2017.
MacGinnis also knocked down two game-winning kicks both coming in 2016 with a 51-yard kick as time expired at home against Mississippi State and a 47-yarder on the road against No. 11 Louisville in the game’s final seconds.
Punter: Max Duffy
Finally, the best punter of the decade for the Wildcats is the team’s current starter Max Duffy.
The native of Australia was named the Ray-Guy Award winner and a First-Team All-American in 2019 after averaging 48.6 yards per punt and picking up a 26 gain on a fake punt against Missouri on Oct. 29th.