By SUSAN LAX, UK Athletics
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky’s record-breaking athlete Lynn Bowden Jr. headlines four Wildcats named Associated Press first-team All-Southeastern Conference, it was announced on Monday. Bowden was named the top all-purpose player in the league, while punter Max Duffy, center Drake Jackson and offensive guard Logan Stenberg also were recognized for their play this season.
This is the first time since 2002 that four Wildcats have earned first-team All-SEC by the AP. Return specialist Derek Abney, offensive tackle Antonio Hall, punter Glenn Pakulak and running back Artose Pinner were honored that season. Three Cats – linebacker Josh Allen, running back Benny Snell Jr. and offensive guard Bunchy Stallings made the first team last season.
Bowden, Jackson and Stenberg were three major cogs in the nation’s fourth-ranked rushing offense this season, as the Cats completely re-vamped their attack after a rash of injuries at quarterback position necessitated Bowden taking over the position. The Cats rushed for 274.4 yards per game, including three consecutive games of at least 400 yards to end the season. The team broke the single-game rushing record in back-to-back weeks, including 517 yards against Louisville in the regular-season finale.
Bowden, a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award for the nation’s most versatile player, currently leads the SEC and ranks eighth nationally in all-purpose yardage, averaging 153.0 yards per game (note that all-purpose yardage does not include Bowden’s passing yardage as a quarterback). He is one of only three players in the top nine nationally with rushing, receiving, punt return and kickoff return yards.
The Youngstown, Ohio native, who earned First-Team Midseason All-America honors as an all-purpose player by The Associated Press and ESPN, is averaging 8.2 yards per rushing attempt, and is in contention to break the school record. That mark leads the SEC and ranks second nationally. He also is the only player in the nation leading his team in both rushing (1,235) and pass receiving (348). He ranks 13th on UK’s career receptions list with 114 and is 18th on the career receiving yards list with 1,303 yards.
Jackson and Stenberg were the two most veteran pieces of an offensive line regarded as one of the best in the country. Jackson, a redshirt junior from Versailles, Kentucky, has started 32 consecutive games and was named SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week after the Cats piled up 401 yards on the ground versus Vanderbilt on Nov. 16. Stenberg, a senior from Madison, Alabama, has a reputation as one of the toughest blocking guards in the SEC and has started 38 consecutive games for the Cats.
Duffy, a junior from Perth, Australia, leads the nation in punting at 48.6 yards per punt and has helped the Cats lead the nation in net punting as well. He has been consistently excellent this season and was twice named the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week. He is a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, to be announced on Dec. 10. Duffy also is UK’s all-time leading career punter at 46.47 yards on 107 kicks.
Kentucky finished the regular season 7-5 overall, 3-5 in the SEC and will face Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl on December 31 in Charlotte, North Carolina at noon on ESPN.