Kentucky football: Ranking the Cats' 10 best players after 4 games
A year ago, everybody knew who Kentucky’s stars were — Josh Allen, Benny Snell, Mike Edwards. But in 2019, with the Wildcats at 2-2 so far, Kentucky is still forging its identity. Nonetheless, after a third of the season, here are Kentucky’s 10 top standouts.
10. Terry Wilson, QB
Stats: 33-52 passing, 360 yards, 2 TD, 17 carries, 44 yards, 1 TD
Wilson was expected to make waves as a junior starter and through a game and half, he was looking pretty good … until his season was ended by a torn patellar tendon. Since then, Kentucky’s QB play has been up and down, but Wilson did show his potentially difference-making skills early.
9. Kavosiey Smoke, RB
Stats: 44 carries, 276 yards, 3 TDs
Smoke, a redshirt freshman, has been a big-play weapon. His 6.3 yards per carry and 3 rushing scores attest to the fact that he’s done a fair amount of the work of trying to replace Benny Snell’s production.
8. Brandin Echols, CB
Stats: 25 tackles, 3 pass breaks ups, 1 sack, 1 fumble forced
Echols, a JUCO addition, has been the Wildcats’ most consistent option at cornerback. He is 2nd on the team in tackles and leads the Wildcats in passes broken up.
7. Ahmad Wagner, WR
Stats: 10 receptions, 213 yards, 2 TDs
Wagner, a former basketball player at Iowa, has emerged as Kentucky’s best big-play threat on the outside. He has 10 catches for 213 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and if pass interference flags drawn was a stat, he’s have a ton of those, too.
6. A.J. Rose, RB
Stats: 56 carries, 297 yards, 2 TDs
Rose has been a little more of a plowhorse than a thoroughbred, but he’s 7th in the SEC in rushing yards, and to date, has been a little more of an all-around player than Smoke (9 receptions for 56 yards).
5. Josh Paschal, DL
Stats: 14 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 fumble forced
Paschal, a sophomore who has healed from a melanoma scare last season, has been a disruptive presence for Kentucky off the edge, as he leads the squad in tackles for loss, and ranks 6th in the SEC in that stat.
4. Max Duffy, P
Stats: 51.2 yards per punt, 47.9 net yards per punt
Duffy, the Australian punter, is leading the SEC in punting and in net punting — meaning he both kicks bombs and avoids big returns.
3. Landon Young, OT
Stats: 7 team sacks allowed, helped to block for 177.2 rushing yards per game (4.8 yards per carry)
It’s always hard to evaluate offensive linemen, but Young, who missed the 2018 season due to injury, has been a standout, protecting Kentucky’s QBs from a ton of sacks, and helping open holes for a solid ground attack.
2. Lynn Bowden, WR
Stats: 27 receptions, 330 yards, 1 TD, 7 carries, 55 yards, 1-2 passing, 32 yards, 23.2 yards per KR, 17.7 yards per PR
Bowden does a little of everything, and despite some inconsistency, he has emerged as Kentucky’s most reliable offensive contributor. His 27 catches are 3rd in the SEC, and he ranks 7th in the league in receiving yards. If Sawyer Smith’s injured shoulder causes him to miss time, don’t be surprised to see Bowden play some quarterback, particularly in the Wildcat formation, where he has occasionally starred.
1.DeAndre Square, LB
Stats: 31 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries, 1 interception
Square, a sophomore linebacker, has been Kentucky’s most consistent defender. He is tied for 3rd in the SEC in tackles, and is 18th in tackles for loss. He can rush the quarterback, he can stop the run, and he can cover. No one player will replace Josh Allen, but Square has developed noticeably from 2018.