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3 Wildcats among PFF’s highest-graded SEC players thus far

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The talent level on this team continues to rise.

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Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

While this season hasn’t quite turned out the way the Kentucky Wildcats had planned, the talent on this team is very evident.

Three players were listed in PFF’s highest-graded SEC players through week 9: RB Christopher Rodriguez (87.5), OT Darian Kinnard (90.5), and LB Jamin Davis (79.8).

All of these players have made impressive plays this season. Rodriguez has essentially sealed up the lead role for the Cats when coming into this year it was a three-back race. Here’s what PFF had to say about Rodriguez’s performance so far:

“Rodriguez has made the most of his opportunities while not necessarily holding on to a typical bell-cow role. Rodriguez is handling 38% of all rushing attempts for the Wildcats, while fellow running back AJ Rose and quarterbacks Terry Wilson and Joey Gatewood combine for 55% of the team’s carries.

Despite splitting carries with two dual-threat quarterbacks and another running back, Rodriguez ranks as one of the more efficient backs in the SEC. The redshirt sophomore has recorded either a first down or touchdown on 40.0% of his carries, the highest rate among all SEC running backs. Since Week 5, 55% of his carries have gained 5-plus yards, and he has averaged an SEC-leading 6.1 yards per carry.”

On defense, Jamin Davis has made some big plays, including a 85-yard interception return for a touchdown against Tennessee. This will forever make him a legend at UK, and there’s definitely more to come in his young career. Here’s what PFF had to say about Davis:

“In his first season starting full-time at linebacker, Jamin Davis has proven that he belongs among the conference’s best. The redshirt junior ranks first in PFF grade and run-defense grade while ranking third in coverage grade among SEC linebackers.

Davis contributes to all facets of the game for Kentucky. He has picked off two passes in coverage, recorded 15 defensive stops and ranks second in total tackles among SEC linebackers.”

The offensive line has been a major strength this season, and Darian Kinnard has been a standout. If he continues this kind of play, you can expect to see him on Sunday’s. Here’s what PFF had to say about Kinnard:

“Darian Kinnard leads a Kentucky offensive line that grades as the top offensive line unit in the SEC and seventh nationally. Kinnard has been consistent while pass blocking, giving up only one sack on 156 pass-blocking snaps this season.”

It’s great to see these players’ work come to fruition in these grades. Unfortunately, it has amounted to a 2-4 season, but that’s in large part due to the play or lack thereof at the quarterback and wide receiver positions.

While this season isn’t over, there are only four games left with two of these being on the road against Alabama and Florida.

It’s going to be a tough challenge for these Cats to close out the season, but what we’re really looking for is who’s going to step up in these last few games and earn their spots to end the year and head into next season.