As the Wildcats football season comes to an end with another tough record at 2-10 there are bright sides that us as fans can be excited about. There were 3 players on each side of the ball this year that really impressed me and look forward to seeing what they do in the future.
Offensive Season Paw Awards
1) Jalen Whitlow- Threw for 1035 yards with 5 touchdowns and 5 picks and ran for 604 yards and 6 touchdowns. Whitlow will have to fight for the starting job next year as many people think incoming freshman Drew Barker will take his starting spot but it will be interesting to see what unfolds after spring practices start.
2) Jojo Kemp- Rushed for 504 yards and 3 touchdowns and had 56 yards receiving on the season. As a freshman it was exciting to watch Kemp each and every week because anytime he touched the ball it seemed like he had a chance to get the job done. Going forward I think it will be exciting next year to watch Kemp and incoming freshman Boom Williams share carries and become one of the best tandems in the SEC possibly.
3) Javess Blue- Led the team with 586 receiving yards and had 4 touchdowns, also had 510 return yards averaging 20 yards per return. Blue gave the Cats receiving core a big boost this season and he gave the Wildcats something they haven’t had since Derek Abney and that is a speed receiver that can return and spread the field. With Blue, Timmons, Badet and incoming freshman Thaddeus Snodgrass it will make whoever the quarterback is next seasons job a lot easier.
Defensive Season Paw Awards
1) Avery Williamson- As a coach you couldn’t have asked for a better team leader than Avery Williamson. He was the commander of this team and he did his job on and off the field to help his new coach out. Avery was not only our leading tackler for yet another season he made his presence known in the recruiting aspect as well helping Stoops out with making Kentucky look like the place to be. Williamson had 102 tackles including 4 tackles for loss, 2 fumble recoveries and a sack. Avery will be missed by UK fans as he was truly a class act and will be a success at the next level I have no doubt in my mind.
2) Alvin “Bud” Dupree- Bud really found himself this season as he was moved to defensive end from outside linebacker by the new coaching staff of the Wildcats. Defensive Coordinator DJ Eliot saw the speed and strength combination in Dupree and instantly saw him as a play making pass rusher for the Cats. Eliot played his cards right as Bud had his best season as a Wildcat with 61 tackles which was second on the team, 6.5 sacks which led the team and also led the team with 9 tackles for a loss adding 2 forced fumbles as well. Now the question moving forward is will Bud try to go pro or will he stay around another year? I personally think he should go now as he had a great season and his stock could be the highest it might ever be. I see Dupree as a second or third rounder at this point but if he stayed around its hit or miss just like any other player if he will improve his stock or possibly get hurt and reduce his stock.
3) Za’Darius Smith- Smith was a breath of fresh air for the Cats coming in as a JUCO transfer. Za’darius instantly came in and made our pass rush so much better and gave us two premier pass rushers along side of Dupree. He was third on the team in tackles with 59 tackles, second on the team with 6.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. Smith is in the same boat as Dupree with the Draft situation although he might be more of a 4-6 rounder due to his inconsistency but he still has the tools to be a great pass rusher in the NFL. I hope that Smith and Dupree both stay around because they could be the leaders of this defense next year, because with Williamson gone this team will need a vocal leader on the defensive side of the ball with very few starting veterans returning.