Jen Smith on UK Football

Another player leaving UK football program. This one could hurt.

Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Jordan Jones (34) Kentucky Wildcats defensive end Denzil Ware (35) and Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Joshua Paschal (4) celebrate in the fourth quarter during their game against the Tennessee. Ware has decided he will play his final season of eligibility elsewhere.
Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Jordan Jones (34) Kentucky Wildcats defensive end Denzil Ware (35) and Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Joshua Paschal (4) celebrate in the fourth quarter during their game against the Tennessee. Ware has decided he will play his final season of eligibility elsewhere. aslitz@herald-leader.com

Kentucky senior outside linebacker Denzil Ware, who will graduate this week, is planning to leave UK and play somewhere else next season.

Ware announced his intentions on social media late Thursday.

“Today is bitter sweet,” Ware wrote. “I am announcing that I am transferring to another university as a grad transfer for my final season. It was a very tough decision to make.

“I want to think Coach Stoops and all the other coaches for everything they’ve done for me. Thank you, #BBN for all the support over these past three years. To my teammates, ya’ll are my brothers. I’ll always bleed blue.”

Ware, who was suspended for the Music City Bowl in December for an unspecified violation of team rules, initially said he was planning to return to UK for his senior season.

The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Ware played in 12 games with seven starts last season and finished with 47 tackles, including nine for loss and 6.5 quarterback sacks. He also had one interception, two recovered fumbles and two forced fumbles for the Cats.

A four-star prospect by two recruiting services, Ware played in 37 games during his UK career, starting in 30, recording 156 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks.

He was one of 10 starters slated to return for Kentucky next season. Depending on the alignment, UK could move sophomore Josh Paschal from the defensive line back out to an edge rusher spot or a player like Boogie Watson could slide in.

It’s the second straight season that the Cats have lost a starter to a grad transfer. Last season, wide receiver Jeff Badet left to play for Oklahoma.

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