LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky senior linebacker Josh Allen, junior running back Benny Snell Jr. and senior offensive guard Jervontius “Bunchy” Stallings was named first-team All-Southeastern Conference by the league’s coaches, while sophomore wide receiver/return specialist Lynn Bowden Jr. earned second-team honors as an all-purpose performer, announced Tuesday by the SEC.
The three Wildcats voted to the coaches’ first team are the most since 2008 when star receiver/return man Randall Cobb, linebacker Micah Johnson and punter Tim Masthay all earned that distinction. Allen, Snell and Stallings duplicated the first-team All-SEC honors announced Monday by The Associated Press.
The Wildcats won nine regular-season games for the first time in 41 years, including six over bowl-eligible teams and four over squads that won eight or more. UK’s 5-3 mark in SEC play also was the team’s first winning league record since 1977. The Cats won at Florida, ending a three-decade-old dry spell against the Gators, and the recorded the most-lopsided win in the history of the Governor’s Cup series against Louisville.
Allen, a senior from Montclair, New Jersey, has been a pass rush terror so far this season. With 28.5 career sacks and 14 sacks in 2018, he now holds UK’s career and single-season records. His 11 career forced fumbles tie former Wildcat and current Chicago Bear linebacker Danny Trevathan for UK’s career mark (forced fumbles stats available since 1988). He leads the team with 84 tackles and paces the SEC in sacks, tackles for loss (18.5) and forced fumbles (5). Twelve of his 14 sacks have come in the second half of games, including eight in the fourth quarter. In five of UK’s nine wins this season, Allen had a sack late in the fourth quarter that was crucial to the Wildcat victory.
In addition to his first-team All-SEC accolades, Allen was received the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Monday, signifying the National Defensive Player of the Year. He also is a finalist for the Walter Camp National Player of the Year, the Butkus Award (nation’s best linebacker), the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year), the Lott IMPACT Trophy (defensive player of the year) and Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end of the year).
Snell continued his onslaught on the UK record books this season while piling up 1,305 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior, and now ranks second on UK’s career rushing list behind only Sonny Collins. The Westerville, Ohio native now has been voted AP first team in back-to-back seasons. The last Wildcat to win consecutive first-team All-SEC honors was tight end Jacob Tamme in 2006-07. Snell has six 100-yard games this season and will enter the VRBO Citrus Bowl with 3,729 career rushing yards and 46 touchdowns.
Stallings, a senior guard from McComb, Mississippi, is just the second UK offensive lineman to earn first-team honors since 2003, joining center Jon Toth in 2016. He twice earned SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week this season and gained attention for his devastating pancake block in the open field against Florida during a critical point of the Cats’ 27-16 win.
Bowden, a sophomore from Youngstown, Ohio, was one of the league’s most explosive threats this season, leading the Wildcats with 62 catches for 661 yards and five touchdowns. He returned 20 kickoffs for an average of 22.5 yards and jumpstarted the Cats’ wild, come-from-behind win at Missouri with his 67-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game UK won on the final play of the game.