Continuing Our Look At The Decade’s Best
The first of our multi-part look at the last 10 years of Kentucky football began with the best players on offense. This time around we look at the other side of the ball where much like the offense some tough decisions had to be made. However our ballots have been cast as we present the Kentucky all-decade defensive team. Our list begins with the guys up front.
A Pro Bowler
Defensive End 1- Za’Darius Smith– After playing in the junior college ranks his first two years Smith transferred to Lexington in 2013. During his time at Kentucky Smith racked up 119 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.
Following his senior season the six foot four 275 pounder went in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft to Baltimore. After four solid years with the Ravens Smith signed with Green Bay as a free agent. He exploded in 2019 with 13.5 sacks and 55 tackles. As a result he made his first Pro Bowl.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) January 21, 2020
A Future Pro Bowl Player
Defensive End 2- Alvin “Bud” Dupree– Believe it or not, Dupree came to Kentucky as a tight end. However he moved to defensive end and the rest is history. During his four years in Lexington Dupree racked up 23.5 sacks, third best in school history. In addition he recorded 39.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles. As a result Dupree made first team All-SEC first team in 2014. His pick six against South Carolina cemented the win over the Gamecocks giving Mark Stoops his first signature win at Kentucky.
The Pittsburgh Steelers took Dupree with the 18th pick in the first round of the 2015 draft. In five years he’s recorded 200 tackles and 31.5 sacks. Furthermore he racked up career highs this past season with 68 tackles and 11.5 sacks.
Honorable Mention- Dequin Evans
Strong Interior Linemen
Defensive Tackle 1- Cory Johnson– Another player who came to Kentucky from the junior college ranks. Johnson played sparingly in his first year however he broke through during his senior campaign. Making second team All-SEC Johnson had 67 tackles including an amazing 19 in one game against Eastern Kentucky.
Defensive Tackle 2- Calvin Taylor– The six foot nine Taylor is another Kentucky success story. Lightly recruited out of high school he eventually signed with the Cats well after National Signing Day. However his playing time increased every year leading to a break through senior season. Taylor finished the 2019 campaign second in the SEC with 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. As a result Last Word On College Football voted Taylor as Kentucky’s defensive MVP.
Now that we’ve wrapped up the defensive line let’s move to the linebackers in our Kentucky all-decade defensive team. There you’ll find some of the best players ever at the school.
Outside Linebacker/ Edge- Josh Allen– Much has been written about how the former two start recruit transformed into the best defensive player in UK history. However the stats certainly back up that claim. A school record 31.5 sacks including 17 his senior year. In addition he forced five fumbles and defended four passes. All while helping lead Kentucky to their first 10 win season since 1977. He won the Chuck Bednarik Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Jacksonville picked him seventh in last year’s draft where he had a standout rookie season. Finishing with 10.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss Allen became the first Jaguars’ rookie to ever make the Pro Bowl.
DE @JoshAllen41_ is officially Pro Bowl bound.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) January 19, 2020
Honorable Mention- Jamar “Boogie” Watson
Two Great Middle Linebackers
Inside Linebacker 1- Danny Trevathan– During his four years at Kentucky Trevathan was named All-SEC twice. As a junior in 2010 he recorded 144 tackles and forced four fumbles. This garnered him first team honors. The following year he racked up 143 tackles and forced five fumbles. However he only made second team All-SEC. Taken in the sixth round by Denver in the 2012 draft he helped lead the Broncos to a victory in Super Bowl 50. Following four years in Denver Trevathan played the last four with the Chicago Bears.
Inside Linebacker 2- Avery Williamson– In four years in Lexington Williamson made 296 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble. During his final season at Kentucky he was second team All-SEC after recording 135 tackles, making three sacks and an interception. The Tennessee Titans took Williamson in the fifth round of the 2014 draft where he played four years. He signed with the New York Jets but missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL.
That takes care of the defensive line and linebackers as we look at Kentucky’s all-decade defensive team. We wrap things up with a look at the secondary.
A Formidable Group
Cornerback 1- Derrick Baity– Part of Kentucky’s heralded 2015 recruiting class Baity became a stater half way through his freshman year where he remained throughout his career. Over four years he had 148 tackles and six interceptions. He’s currently signed to a practice squad contract with the New York Giants.
Cornerback 2- Lonnie Johnson– The junior college transfer only played two years in Lexington but he made them count. He had 64 tackles, blocked two kicks and one sack. His only interception came at a huge time in the Cats Citrus Bowl win over Penn State. He was taken in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Johnson played a big role on special teams including a blocked punt return for a touchdown against Kansas City in the playoffs.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 12, 2020
Safety 1- Mike Edwards– A starter for nearly his entire time at Kentucky Edwards finished with 317 tackles. That ranks him second in school history for a defensive back. In addition he also ranks fourth all-time with 10 interceptions. Tampa Bay took the three time All-SEC performer in the third round of last year’s draft.
Safety 2- Winston Guy– A local product out of Lexington Catholic Guy finished his UK career with 297 tackles. In addition his senior year he racked up an impressive 120 tackles with 20 for a loss. He also had two interceptions and one and a half sacks.
We have one category left on our Kentucky all-decade defensive team and that’s the punter. There you find another of the school’s all-time best.
Best In School History
Punter- Max Duffy– Steve Spurrier once said, “I don’t know a lot about Kentucky but I know they have a great punter.” Truer words were never spoken as the native of Australia averaged nearly forty nine yards a punt in 2019. As a result he won the Ray Guy award as the nation’s best punter. He also was named a first team All-American.
Honorable Mention- Landon Foster
Thanks for checking out our look at Kentucky’s all-decade defensive team here at Last Word On College Football. Do you agree with our picks? If not who would you put instead? Drop a line in the comments section below or on Twitter. Next time we continue our look at the decade for Kentucky football as we count down the top ten wins of the 2010’s.