LEXINGTON, Ky. – – Six University of Kentucky football players earned a spot on Athlon Sports’ preseason All-Southeastern Conference teams it was announced today.
Junior running back Benny Snell Jr., (Westerville, Ohio) was named to the first-team offense after leading the SEC in rushing touchdowns (19) and ranking third in total rushing yardage (1,333) and rushing yards per game (102.5). His 1,333 rushing yards set a school record for most rushing yards by a sophomore. He also became the first player in school history to record 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
Snell, who already ranks eighth on the UK career rushing list (2,424 yards), is only the third player in SEC history to have at least 2,424 yards and at least 31 career rushing touchdowns before his junior season, joining Georgia’s Herschel Walker and LSU’s Leonard Fournette. He also holds the school records for total rushing touchdowns (32), most rushing touchdowns in a season (19) and most points in a season (116). In just 26 career games, Snell has climbed up to No. 7 on UK’s career scoring list.
Senior safety Mike Edwards (Cincinnati, Ohio) was a first-team defense selection after leading Kentucky and ranking 10th in the SEC in tackles per game with 7.5. He also had a team-high four interceptions to go along with a team-high seven pass breakups. Edwards is just the fourth player in school history to lead the team in both interceptions and tackles in the same season, joining Darryl Bishop in 1972, Quentus Cumby in 2002 and Danny Trevathan in 2011. After charting a season-high 11 tackles vs. Ole Miss, Edwards now has nine games with double-digit tackles.
Senior tight end C.J. Conrad (LaGrange, Ohio) was named to the second-team offense. Despite suffering a season-ending foot injury in the Georgia game on Nov. 18, Conrad ended the season ranking second on the team with 286 receiving yards on 16 catches to go along with a team-high four touchdowns. His 17.9 yards per catch average ranked second on the team. In the first two games of the 2017 season, he had a receiving TD, becoming the first UK tight end with a receiving touchdown in consecutive games since Jacob Tamme on Nov. 24 and Dec. 31, 2007. In his three-year career, Conrad has totaled 697 receiving yards with nine scores.
Third-team offensive selections were senior offensive guard Bunchy Stallings (McComb, Mississippi) and sophomore wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. (Youngstown, Ohio) as an all-purpose player.
Stallings started in 12 of 13 games last season, four at center and the final eight at right guard. He was a key cog in the offensive line who blocked for Snell, the first player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
Bowden is a versatile performer who has returned kickoffs, played wide receiver and served in the feature-back role in the Wildcat formation. As a freshman, he caught 17 passes for 210 yards, averaging 12.4 yards per reception. He also rushed 12 times for 37 yards while completing 3 of 4 passes for 92 yards in the Wildcat formation. As UK’s primary kickoff returner, he set the school records for kickoff returns in a season (37) and in a game (7 vs. Louisville) as well as kickoff return yards in a season (869). His 23.5 kick return average ranked seventh in the SEC and his 85.8 all-purpose yards per game were the second highest among all SEC freshmen. Bowden, who was named to the Coaches’ All-SEC Freshman Team, earned SEC Freshman of the Week following the Missouri game when he totaled 128 all-purpose yards in the win over the Tigers. He had a career-high 192 all-purpose yards in the win at Vanderbilt, including a 93-yard kickoff return that was UK’s longest runback since 2009.
Senior linebacker Josh Allen (Montclair, New Jersey) was listed on the third-team defense. The 2017 Butkus Award semifinalist totaled 65 tackles (fourth on the team) in helping lead UK to its second-straight bowl appearance. He also had a team-high 9.5 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, a team-high four quarterback hurries, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one interception. Allen was named second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press last season and was a third-team All-SEC choice by Phil Steele.
To see the entire Athlon Sports All-SEC list, go here: https://athlonsports.com/