UK Football

Five UK football players you know, and five you will know by season’s end

Five UK football players you know, and five you will know

Kentucky kicks off its 2018 season Saturday against Central Michigan. Here are 10 Wildcats who could be keys to success this season.
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Kentucky kicks off its 2018 season Saturday against Central Michigan. Here are 10 Wildcats who could be keys to success this season.

Ten players expected to be critical to Kentucky’s football success this season. Some you already know. Some you’ll know by season’s end:

Five players you know

Benny Snell: If there is a face of the Kentucky program, it’s junior running back Benny Snell, who has run for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and will try for a third while chasing UK’s all-time rushing record. Snell needs 1,412 yards to break the 43-year-old mark.

Josh Allen: The senior outside linebacker, who led the Cats in tackles for loss and sacks in 2017, is going through a slight position switch, but coaches expect the same result. Allen needs 12 sacks to set a UK career mark.

C.J. Conrad: Kentucky’s tight end has proven himself as a blocker, but also has shown he can be an offensive weapon (16 catches for 286 yards, four TDs last season). Expect those numbers to rise in his final season as he takes on a bigger role, which could include some wide receiver.

Mike Edwards: With 97 tackles, the senior safety led Kentucky in that statistic last season and probably will again this season. The defensive back can play at any of the secondary spots and could see an even more expanded role this season.

Jordan Jones: Even though the senior linebacker was limited to nine games last season, he still finished fifth on the team in tackles with 64, including 7.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks. A fully healthy Jones could be a serious weapon as he tries to get back to his sophomore stats, which included 109 tackles, including 15.5 for loss and four sacks.

Josh Allen (41) and Mike Edwards (7) are two of the top tacklers on the Kentucky defense and both are prospects for next spring’s NFL Draft. Charles Bertram

Five players you will know

A.J. Rose: Maybe his breakout season was predicted a year too soon, but the sophomore running back showed in spring practices and the Blue-White Spring Game (134 yards and three touchdowns on 11 carries) that he’s ready to become a more integral part of the UK offense.

Dorian Baker: The senior is a player you did know, but you almost forgot thanks to limited time on the field the past two seasons, including a hamstring problem that limited him during his junior season and an ankle injury that kept him off the field last year. But if Baker gets back to his sophomore season form (55 catches, 608 yards and three touchdowns), he could become a consistent play-maker.

Quinton Bohanna: The Cats’ nose guard might be 6-foot-5 and 350 pounds, but his position coach says he moves like he’s only 270 pounds. Having that athleticism and speed in the center of the defense can only help the interior defensive line for Kentucky. A year of experience and maturity make the sophomore dangerous.

Kash Daniel: His high motor on special teams was evident the past two seasons, but now the junior middle linebacker steps into a big role at the center of the UK defense and as one of its vocal leaders as he tries to replace one of the few starters lost in Courtney Love.

Lynn Bowden: The sophomore wide receiver and kick returner didn’t have a touchdown last season but don’t expect that streak to continue after his first full season of building strength and endurance. Coaches are looking for more ways to get him the ball this season.

New Kentucky football wide receivers coach Michael Smith talks about the progress of sophomore wide receivers Lynn Bowden, Clevan Thomas, Isaiah Epps, Josh Ali and Zy’Aire Hughes.