Eleven Wildcats Tabbed All-SEC by Phil Steele
Eleven University of Kentucky football players have been named All-Southeastern Conference by Phil Steele’s College Football, it was announced Tuesday.
Junior offensive tackle Darian Kinnard was named to the first team, while junior safety Yusuf Corker, junior linebacker Jamin Davis, senior center Drake Jackson, senior linebacker Jamar “Boogie” Watson and senior offensive tackle Landon Young all were second-team honorees. Senior punter Max Duffy was named third team and senior nose guard Quinton Bohanna, sophomore defensive back Kelvin Joseph, junior defensive end Josh Paschal and junior running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. each earned fourth-team honors.
Kinnard, who hails from Knoxville, Tennessee, has played in 33 career games with 26 consecutive starts at tackle. He graded at 88 percent in 10 regular season games this season with 40 knockdown blocks and 138 blocks at the point of attack. He also was a candidate for the Outland Trophy this season and announced his decision to return to UK for the 2021 season earlier this week.
Corker, from McDonough, Georgia, again proved to be one of the SEC’s steadiest playmakers in the secondary. He totaled 77 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. He had a career-high 18 tackles at Missouri, including 16 solo stops. Those 16 solo stops tied the single-game school record set by Larry Smith vs. Tulane in 1984 and Jeff Zurcher vs. Georgia in 1998. Corker capped his season in impressive fashion, picking off passes in the final two victories over South Carolina and North Carolina State.
Davis, from Ludowici, Georgia, was the breakout star of the 2020 season for UK, totaling a team-high 102 tackles. The middle linebacker saw his first extensive playing time and didn’t disappoint, tallying double-digit tackles in seven of the 10 games he played, including becoming the first UK player to record five straight such games since Danny Trevathan had nine straight in 2010. In addition to the 13 tackles and game-sealing interception he had versus No. 24 NC State in the Gator Bowl, against Tennessee he tallied a then-career-best 12 tackles to go along with an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown. A week earlier against Mississippi State, he had 11 tackles and intercepted a pass in the end zone on the final play of the first half. He finished the season second on the team with three interceptions and has five pickoffs in his career.
Jackson, a native of Versailles, Kentucky, has played in 47 career games with 44 consecutive starts at center, the third-longest such streak in school history with lineups available since 1993. He graded at 85 percent in 10 regular season games played in 2020, missing just one assignment in 627 snaps. He also had 38 knockdown blocks and led the team with 167 blocks at the point of attack. He was on the watch lists for both the Outland Trophy for the best interior lineman and the Rimington Trophy for the nation’s top center.
Watson, of Brandywine, Maryland, had a strong senior season, leading the Wildcats with 10 tackles for loss to conclude his career with 28.5. He finished the season with five sacks and had an interception vs. Mississippi State in which he ripped the ball out of the receiver’s hands just before he crossed the goal line for a score. Watson capped his career fifth on the school’s all-time sacks list with 18.5.
Young, of Lexington, Kentucky, has appeared in 48 career games, with 32 starts, including 24 in a row at left tackle. He was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice this season (Oct. 19 and Nov. 16) and after 10 games, graded at 89 percent, did not miss an assignment, and led the “Big Blue Wall” in knockdown blocks with 56. He totaled 163 blocks at the point of attack.
Duffy followed up his 2019 Ray Gay Award with another stellar season and finished his career as the program’s all-time leading punter at 45.96 yards per kick. The Perth, Australia native averaged 45.1 yards per punt this season, fourth in the SEC, and both began and ended his season on high notes. In the opener at Auburn he bombed a career-long 75-yard punt, the third longest in school history, and then in the Gator Bowl, burying NC State deep in its own territory twice while also avoiding catastrophe in the first half when he faked out a rusher, stepped between two additional defenders and got a kick away that looked to be a sure-fire block by the Wolfpack.
Bohanna, from Cordova, Tennessee, had 10 tackles this season and his efficiency in controlling the center of the line prompted Pro Football Focus to name him second-team All-SEC. He finished his career with nine TFL, two sacks and four PBU.
Joseph, a transfer from LSU, picked off four passes in nine games before opting out of the final two games. He notched his first career interception in the win over Mississippi State and followed that up with a 41-yard pick-six at No. 18 Tennessee the following week, helping set the tone for the Cats’ 34-7 victory that ended a 36-year drought in Knoxville.
Paschal, from Prince George’s County, Maryland, moved from linebacker to defensive end this season and immediately became a stalwart on the line. He totaled 32 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss but it was his steady presence despite battling through injury that proved critical. He also had a key interception against Mississippi State that he returned 76 yards to set up a touchdown.
Rodriguez led the Cats in rushing in 2020 with 785 yards and 11 touchdowns despite missing two games due to health and safety protocols. The McDonough, Georgia native had four 100-yard rushing games this season, including three of the final four games for which he was available. The power back was nearly impossible to bring down, going 105 consecutive carries without being tackled for behind the line of scrimmage and gaining positive yardage on 116 of his 119 total attempts. He delivered a career-best 149 yards vs. Vanderbilt on Nov. 14 and led the SEC in yards per attempt at 6.6.