Four Wildcats Earn Coaches’ All-SEC Honors
More accolades are coming in for the Wildcats as all-purpose player and return specialist Barion Brown, center Eli Cox, running back Ray Davis and defensive back Maxwell Hairston have all been named All-Southeastern Conference Second Team by the league’s coaches, it was announced Tuesday.
Brown, a 6-foot-1, 174-pound sophomore from Nashville, concluded the regular season ranked first in the SEC and second in the nation on 31.7 yards per kickoff return. He was the only player in the SEC and one of five players in the nation to have recorded two kickoff return touchdowns in 2023. He also led UK in pass receptions with 40, good for 439 yards and three scores, had three punt returns for 51 yards (17.0 average), and had 10 rushing attempts for 121 yards (12.1 average).
Cox, a 6-4, 311-pound senior from Nicholasville, Kentucky, anchors an offensive line that was on the midseason honor roll for the Joe Moore Award for the top offensive line in the country. The adept blocker led the way for Davis, who is second among SEC running backs in rushing and leads the SEC in touchdowns and scoring. Cox earned the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week in a win over Eastern Kentucky earlier in the season.
Davis, a 5-10, 216-pound graduate transfer of San Francisco, totaled 1,066 yards on 186 carries and 13 touchdowns rushing this season, ranking third in the league. He also had 317 yards on 29 catches and seven touchdowns receiving. He concluded the regular season as the program’s single-season record holder in touchdowns (20) and scoring (120), while also leading the SEC in both categories. He currently ranks 13th on the program’s single-season rushing yards list (1,066).
Davis is the only active player – and believed to be the only player in NCAA history – to total at least 1,000 rushing yards in a career at three different Division I schools (also Temple and Vanderbilt). He also became the first player in SEC history to have 1,000-yard seasons at two league schools, also running for 1,042 last season for Vanderbilt. He has the fourth-most career rushing yards among active players in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (3,563).
Davis’ season was highlighted by rushing for 280 yards and totaling a school-record-tying four touchdowns in the win over Florida. He was named National Player of the Week by two organizations for that effort.
Hairston, a 6-1, 181-pound sophomore from Detroit, totaled five interceptions this season, fifth-most in the nation. Four of those picks came in SEC play. His five interceptions are tied for fifth-most interceptions in a single season in program history. His five in a single season are the most since Sam Maxwell in 2009 (6).
He has totaled 131 interception return yards this season, most since Greg Long had 176 return yards in 1981 (school record is 197 by Dave Hunter in 1968). Hairston had two interceptions at Vanderbilt, returning both for touchdowns, tying a Southeastern Conference single-game record. He was named National Defensive Player of the Week and National Defensive Back of the Week for that game.
Along with his five takeaways, Hairston also is third on the team in tackles with 64 stops, along with 1.5 tackles for loss, a team-high six pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Kentucky (7-5) is headed to 79th TaxSlayer Gator Bowl to take on No. 22-ranked Clemson (8-4) on Friday, Dec. 29 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Wildcats and Tigers will tangle at noon ET at Bill Gay Grounds at EverBank Stadium. The game will be televised by ESPN.
Tickets are available online at UKFootballTix.com or by calling (800) 928-2287, option 4. Kentucky will be on the west side of EverBank Stadium. Student ticket information is online at UKFootballTix.com. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets directly from UK Athletics to guarantee seats with other Kentucky fans and to help UK meet its bowl ticket obligations.
The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl appearance extends Kentucky’s school-record streak of eight consecutive bowl appearances, all coming under Stoops. UK is one of only eight teams in the nation, and one of only three in the SEC (along with Alabama and Georgia) with at least eight consecutive Bowl appearances.