UK Football

Six Kentucky football players earn coaches’ preseason All-SEC honors

Ryan Cremeen, 9, of Richmond, Ky., carries the American flag onto the field with Kentucky defensive end Denzil Ware (35) and Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad (87) during the 2017 UK Blue-White Spring Game on April 14, 2017. Both Ware and Conrad have been named to coaches’ preseason all-SEC teams.
Ryan Cremeen, 9, of Richmond, Ky., carries the American flag onto the field with Kentucky defensive end Denzil Ware (35) and Kentucky tight end C.J. Conrad (87) during the 2017 UK Blue-White Spring Game on April 14, 2017. Both Ware and Conrad have been named to coaches’ preseason all-SEC teams. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Six Kentucky football players earned a spot on the 2017 Preseason Coaches All-Southeastern Conference teams, it was announced Wednesday by the league office.

Junior linebacker Jordan Jones and junior defensive end/linebacker Denzil Ware were named second-team defense, while junior tight end C.J. Conrad and sophomore running back Benny Snell, were third-team offense, junior safety Mike Edwards was third-team defense and senior kicker Austin MacGinnis was third-team special teams.

Jones, of Youngstown, Ohio, earned first-team defense honors last season after leading the SEC in solo tackles per game (5.7). Overall, he led UK and ranked third in the league in total tackles per game with 8.4. He finished the season with 109 tackles and led the Wildcats with 15.5 tackles for loss.

Jones is currently on the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player. He was a third-team Preseason All-SEC pick by the media.

Ware, a native of Opp, Ala., returns as one of Kentucky’s leading pass rushers as he ranked second on the team in total sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (12.0) last year. He has started in 24 of 25 career games for the Wildcats, including 19 consecutive. He also was a second-team Preseason All-SEC selection by the media.

Conrad, a native of LaGrange, Ohio, ranked fourth on the team in receiving in 2016 with 19 catches for 262 yards and four touchdowns. He had a career day vs. New Mexico State, catching five passes for a career-high 133 yards and three touchdowns in the 62-42 win. He became the first player since Dicky Lyons Jr., vs. Florida on Oct. 20, 2007, to have three receiving touchdowns in a game. He also was the first tight end with 100 receiving yards in a game since Jacob Tamme vs. Tennessee on Nov. 24, 2007. The 133 receiving yards are the third-most by a tight end in Kroger Field history. Conrad is currently on the John Mackey Award Preseason Watch List for the nation’s top tight end.

Snell, from Westerville, Ohio, set six UK freshman records, including most rushing touchdowns in a game (4), most rushing yards by a freshman (1,091), most rushing touchdowns by a freshman (13), most total touchdowns by a freshman (13), most 100-yard rushing games (5) and most rushing yards by a freshman in a single game (192). He was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America, ESPN and 247Sports.

Snell, who earned a spot on Athlon’s 2017 preseason SEC third-team offense, is on the preseason watch lists for the Maxwell Award, given to college football’s top player and the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top college running back.

Edwards led all SEC defensive backs in tackles in 2016 with 100 and was one of just six players overall in the league with 100 or more tackles on the season. He ranked second on the team and seventh overall in the SEC in tackles per game (7.7) and tied for 10th in the conference in total passes defended (11). He was a second-team Associated Press All-SEC selection, and was a third-team pick by Athlon and Phil Steele.

The safety from Cincinnati had two interceptions of Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson in Kentucky’s win over No. 11 Louisville in 2016, earning him SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week.

Edwards is on the watch list for the Paycom Jim Thorpe Award, given to college football’s top defensive back. He earned second-team preseason All-SEC honors by Athlon Sports and was also a third-team member on the preseason All-SEC team by the media.

MacGinnis, one of the nation’s top returning kickers, hit 16-of-19 field goal attempts in 2016 and he enters the 2017 season with a streak of seven straight made field goals, which is just four short of his own school record of 11 straight. He is just the second player in school history to hit at least 50 career field goals (57, Joey Worley, 1984-1987) and his 257 career points ranks No. 2 on UK's all-time scoring list. He needs just 48 more to tie Lones Seiber (2006-09) as the top scorer.

In 2016, MacGinnis connected on a pair of game-winning field goals. His 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds left at No. 11 Louisville marked his second game-winning kick of the season after he also made a 51-yard field goal as time expired for a 40-38 win over Mississippi State.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder from Wedowee, Alabama, was a fourth-team preseason All-SEC selection by Athlon Sports. He is currently on the 2017 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award preseason watch list.

2017 Preseason Coaches All-SEC Football Team

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina

OL Braden Smith, Auburn

OL Martez Ivey, Florida

OL Jonah Williams, Alabama

OL Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama

C Frank Ragnow, Arkansas

WR Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama

QB Jalen Hurts, Alabama

RB Derrius Guice, LSU

RB Nick Chubb, Georgia

AP Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

DEFENSE

DL Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama

DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama

DL Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss

DL Trenton Thompson, Georgia

LB Arden Key, LSU

LB Skai Moore, South Carolina

LB Roquan Smith, Georgia

DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama

DB Armani Watts, Texas A&M

DB Duke Dawson, Florida

DB Ronnie Harrison, Alabama

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Daniel Carlson, Auburn

P JK Scott, Alabama

RS Christian Kirk, Texas A&M

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

TE Isaac Nauta, Georgia

OL Martinas Rankin, Mississippi State

OL K.J. Malone, LSU

OL Koda Martin, Texas A&M

OL Paul Adams, Missouri*

OL Greg Little, Ole Miss

OL Isaiah Wynn, Georgia*

C Will Clapp, LSU

WR J’Mon Moore, Missouri

WR Antonio Callaway, Florida

QB Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State

RB Kamryn Pettway, Auburn

RB Bo Scarbrough, Alabama

AP Derrius Guice, LSU

DEFENSE

DL Cece Jefferson, Florida

DL Marlon Davidson, Auburn

DL Jabari Zuniga, Florida

DL Denzil Ware, Kentucky*

DL Dontavius Russell, Auburn*

LB Jordan Jones, Kentucky

LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama

LB Tre’ Williams, Auburn

DB Donte Jackson, LSU

DB Dominick Sanders, Georgia

DB Carlton Davis, Auburn

DB Tray Matthews, Auburn

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Gary Wunderlich, Ole Miss

P Johnny Townsend, Florida

RS Evan Berry, Tennessee

THIRD TEAM

OFFENSE

TE C.J. Conrad, Kentucky*

TE DeAndre Goolsby, Florida*

OL Jashon Robertson, Tennessee

OL Jawaan Taylor, Florida

OL Zack Bailey, South Carolina

OL Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas

C Bradley Bozeman, Alabama

WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

WR Jauan Jennings, Tennessee

QB Austin Allen, Arkansas

RB Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt

RB Benny Snell, Kentucky

AP Brandon Powell, Florida*

AP Deebo Samuel, South Carolina*

AP Kerryon Johnson, Auburn*

AP Trevon Diggs, Alabama*

DEFENSE

DL Terry Beckner, Jr., Missouri

DL Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia

DL Christian LaCouture, LSU

DL Marcell Frazier, Missouri

LB Oren Burks, Vanderbilt

LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, Alabama

LB Lorenzo Carter, Georgia

DB Anthony Averett, Alabama

DB Mike Edwards, Kentucky

DB Chauncey Gardner, Florida

DB Ryan Pulley, Arkansas

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky

PK Eddy Piniero, Florida*

P Trevor Daniel, Tennessee

RS Antonio Callaway, Florida

(* denotes ties)

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