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Brandin Echols, Quinton Bohanna and Drake Jackson leaving for NFL

Three guys who played big roles in the resurgence of Kentucky football are off to the pros.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - North Carolina State v Kentucky Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats ended their 2020 season on a high note when they defeated the NC State Wolfpack 23-21 in the Gator Bowl, their third-straight bowl victory.

Since then, the Cats have received a ton of positive news in the form of players returning next season including Josh Ali, Justin Rigg, Zach Johnson, Davonte Robinson, DeAndre Square, Josh Paschal, Quandre Mosely, Luke Fortner, and Darian Kinnard.

However, Kentucky won’t get everyone back, as cornerback Brandin Echols and nose tackle Quinton Bohanna announced they are entering the NFL Draft.

In addition, center Drake Jackson has signed with an agent, which means he is also heading to the NFL.

Jackson, a fifth-year senior, opted not to use the NCAA eligibility relief ruling that would have allowed him to return for a sixth season in 2021. He’s been Kentucky’s starting center since 2017 and earned First-Team All-SEC honors last season from the AP. This year, he earned Second-Team All-SEC Honors from the AP and league coaches.

Bohanna, a true senior this season, missed four games due to injury but was a force in the middle of Kentucky’s defense when healthy. He appeared in 37 games (25 starts) in the previous three seasons. He’s made 58, 9.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and four pass deflections in his Kentucky career.

As for Echols, he has been very productive the last two seasons in a Kentucky uniform. In 2019, he finished fourth on the team in tackles with 54 and forced two fumbles. In 2020, it took him two fewer games to get to 54 tackles and he added an INT that came in the Bowl win.

You could argue that Echols’ best game was his last game as he had seven tackles and an INT before friendly fire from Vito Tisdale put him on the sideline in the second half. But we did get to see his best soccer impression that made headlines across college football.

Replacing the anchors on both sides of the trenches, as well as a quality starting corner, will be a tough task for the Cats. However, their recruiting efforts under Mark Stoops has ensured there will be plenty of capable guys at those spots.

Good luck to these guys as they now pursue their dreams of playing on Sundays.

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