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UK picked to finish third in SEC East; 5 Wildcats earn preseason All-SEC honors

UK actually got a vote to win the SEC Championship.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Five Kentucky Wildcats have been named to the 2021 Preseason Media Days All-SEC teams, it was announced Friday.

Senior offensive tackle Darian Kinnard was named First-Team offense, and senior defensive end Joshua Paschal was named to the Second-Team defense. Junior running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. and senior offensive lineman Luke Fortner were listed on the Third-Team offense, while senior safety Yusuf Corker was a Third-Team defensive pick.

Additionally, Kentucky was picked to finish third in the SEC East by the media. Georgia was picked to win the division, followed by Florida. The Wildcats received two votes to win the East and one vote to win the SEC Championship.

Kinnard, a 6-foot-5, 338-pound offensive lineman from Knoxville (TN), was graded by Pro Football Focus as college football’s top run-blocking tackle for 2021. The senior has played in 33 career games with 26 straight starts. In 2020, he graded at 88% in 10 regular season games with 40 knockdown blocks and 138 blocks at the point of attack.

Paschal, a 6-fooot-3, 275-pounder from Prince George’s County (MD), totaled 32 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one quarterback hurry, and one interception in 11 games last season after moving from linebacker to defensive end.

Rodriguez, a 5-foot-11, 224-pounder from McDonough (GA), led the Cats in rushing in 2020 with 785 yards and 11 touchdowns, despite missing two games due to COVID-19 protocols. He had four 100-yard rushing games, 105-straight carries without being tackled behind the line of scrimmage, gained positive yardage on 116 of his 119 total runs, and ranked fifth in the SEC in rushing yards per game (87.2).

Fortner, weighing in at 6-foot-6 and 297 pounds from Sylvania (OH), enters the 2021 season having seen action in 42 career games with 23-straight starts at right guard. In 2020, he graded out at 82.9% in 10 games played with 26 knockdowns and 146 blocks at the point of attack.

Corker, a 6-foot, 204-pounder from McDonough (GA), has played in 37 career games with 24 straight starts at safety. As a junior in 2020, he finished second on the team in tackles (77) behind first-round NFL Draft pick Jamin Davis. Corker also added 2.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble.

SEC PRESEASON MEDIA POLL (first-place votes)

EASTERN DIVISION

  • Georgia (124) 923
  • Florida (7) 784
  • Kentucky (2) 624
  • Missouri 555
  • Tennessee 362
  • South Carolina (1) 355
  • Vanderbilt 149

WESTERN DIVISION

SEC CHAMPION

  • Alabama (84)
  • Georgia (45)
  • Ole Miss (1)
  • Texas A&M (1)
  • Florida (1)
  • Kentucky (1)
  • South Carolina (1)