It has only been three weeks since the last few seconds ran out on Kentucky’s 33-18 loss to Georgia Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl. However, the time since that game in Jacksonville has been anything but boring. There are four things to know about Kentucky football and let’s get into talking about each.
1. Stanley “Boom” Williams Declares for the NFL Draft
Shortly after the Wildcats’ loss to the Yellow Jackets, Williams said he was heading to the NFL. As part of the “Benny and Boom” show, Williams rushed for 1,130 yards on 160 carries and seven touchdowns.
The 5’9″ junior from Monroe, Georgia, finishes his Kentucky career with 2,456 yards, good for seventh all time at the school. Williams is rated as the 24th best NFL running back prospect in the upcoming draft.
Boom’s departure along with the graduating Jojo Kemp leaves Benny Snell as the Cats’ leading returning rusher. Snell set a Kentucky record as a true freshmen with 1,057 yards and 13 touchdowns. The coaching staff is also very high on Siheim King and A.J. Rose, who red-shirted in 2016.
2. Jeff Badet Announces He Will Transfer From Kentucky
Along with their leading rusher, the Cats are also losing their top receiver. Although a junior in eligibility, Badet is on track to graduate in May with a degree in Agricultural Economics. The 6’0″ receiver announced his intentions to transfer via Twitter on January 13th.
Letter to the BBN.. pic.twitter.com/YD2jJ4Egue
— Jeff Badet (@OU_2XBadet) January 13, 2017
Badet became quarterback Stephen Johnson‘s go-to player during this past season and was the club’s top big-play threat. He caught 31 passes for a team high 670 yards and four touchdowns.
He met with the coaching staff after the Mississippi State match-up to express his concerns about the lack of passing game. During the latter half of the 2016 season, the Cats became more of a run-oriented attack behind Williams and Snell. The coaching staff granted him an unconditional release but has yet to decide on a new school.
3. Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot leaves Kentucky
At the end of the 2015 season, there were at least 10 changes to the Kentucky coaching staff. Things had been calm until last Wednesday when the school announced Eliot was leaving to take the same job at Colorado.
Eliot has been with Stoops since their days coaching under Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. After the defense gave up 40 plus points and 500 yards in the season’s first three games, Stoops took over control of the unit. The defense played much better the rest of the season which most people attributed to Stoops’ guidance.
The Cats return nine starters from 2016 for whomever the next coordinator will be. Speculation has centered on current linebackers coach Matt House, who was previously defensive coordinator at Pittsburgh.
4. Recruiting has never been better
In the days since they upset Louisville 41-38, the Wildcats have picked up nine commitments for 2017. The highest rated is Lynn Bowden out of Youngstown, Ohio.
The 6’0″, 185 pound athlete ranks as the 60th overall prospect by Scout.com. As a senior, Bowden ran for 2,277 yards, passed for 1,366 and was responsible for 57 total touchdowns.
He draws comparisons to former Wildcat great current Green Bay Packer Randall Cobb.
New UK commit Lynn Bowden has been compared to Randall Cobb.
Analyst: “I think that’s a fair comparison.” https://t.co/448fUuAAY6
— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) January 14, 2017
Currently, the 2017 recruiting class has 23 pledges and ranks 18th nationally by Rivals.com. The Cats are still in on a number of players in advance of National Signing Day next Wednesday. When all is said and done, the 2017 class could eclipse the 2014 class, which helped changed the program.
Next time around it will be a signing day preview.