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Tuesday Headlines: Luke Fortner Edition

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Fortner continues to make a major impact along the Big Blue Wall after switching from guard to center.

Luke Fortner Greg Goins - Sea of Blue

Coming into the 2021 season, the Kentucky Wildcats were expected to once again have one of the SEC’s best offensive lines, but a big question mark was at center, where Drake Jackson departed after being a full-time stater since 2017.

Luke Fortner, who was a solid starting right guard for the last two years, ended up moving to center this spring, and I think it’s safe to say he’s been exactly what Kentucky needed.

On Monday, Fortner was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, the second time he’a earned it in his career after getting it in Week 1 following Kentucky’s win over Louisiana Monroe.

This time, Fortner anchored an offensive line that helped Kentucky run for 230 rushing yards in a 16-10 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks. He graded out at 84% with 26 blocks at the point of attack and did not miss an assignment or allow any QB pressures.

The real story was the impact he helped the Wildcats’ ground game make when they needed it most. Leading 13-7 with 9:43 remaining the Cats ran the ball seven-straight times to get into field-goal range and push the lead to 16-7.

After the Gamecocks got within 16-10, Kentucky ran out the final 2:31 minutes with five runs that gained 31 yards and two 1st downs.

Fortner may not generate the attention of guys like Wan’Dale Robinson, Chris Rodriguez and Wan’Dale Robinson, but he’s a big reason why they’re able to produce and help this team contend in the SEC.

Because Fortner is a sixth-year super senior who’s been here since 2016 with his team likely to make another bowl game, he should be part of all six Kentucky bowls under Mark Stoops.

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Your Headlines

Mark Stoops is giving Kentucky exactly what he promised nine years ago
That Kentucky will carry a 4-0 record into Saturday’s meeting with No. 10 Florida owes to the fact that Mark Stoops has followed through on one of the vows he made when UK hired the former Florida State defensive coordinator nine years ago as its head coach. Stoops has built a stout defensive culture at a school that had not consistently had one since the Jerry Claiborne coaching era in the 1980s.

Report: Six UK football players charged return to practice
Stoops said in August that the players were held out for 11 weeks while the university reviewed the matter and ultimately cleared the six, but the arrest charges are obviously a different matter.

Todd Grantham, Florida defense will look to challenge, confuse Kentucky
“Third and Grantham” is coming to Lexington, but this year Kentucky could have the offense to really make Florida pay for playing man.

In Florida, UK again comes face-to-face with Mark Stoops’ ‘heartbreak team’
Since Mitch Barnhart brought Stoops on board as UK head man before the 2013 season, Kentucky has been more-consistently competitive with Florida than at any time since the 1970s. Is this the year his Wildcats take down the Gators in Lexington?

Kentucky defense rounding into form ahead of showdown with No. 10 Florida
Kentucky is holding its opponents to 87.8 rushing yards per game, and has kept its two SEC opponents to a slightly lower average (81). That mark ranks 21st nationally and third in the conference behind Georgia and Mississippi State.

SEC football quarterback rankings: Matt Corral, Bryce Young lead as KJ Jefferson surges
The SEC’s elite tier of quarterbacks has looked the part over the first four games of the regular season this fall with Bryce Young, Matt Corral and JT Daniels leading Heisman odds entering a pivotal Week 5 slate of games this weekend.

Kansas City Chiefs set to sign newly reinstated WR Josh Gordon to practice squad, sources say
Former All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon, who recently was informed that he is being reinstated, is planning to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs, sources tell ESPN.

LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard says his desire to return this season factored into decision to sign max deal
Kawhi Leonard said part of the reason why he signed a max deal to stay with the Clippers instead of opting for a shorter deal that could lead to a more lucrative contract is that he hopes to return and play this season.

Former Florida Gators women’s basketball coach Cam Newbauer accused of abuse by players
Multiple players went on the record Monday to accuse former Florida women’s basketball coach Cam Newbauer of creating a toxic, abusive environment during his tenure.

Fantasy waiver wire targets for Week 4 of 2021 NFL season
Michael F. Florio breaks down which players you should target on the waiver wire ahead of Week 4 of the 2021 NFL season.

Ford to build electric battery park in KY, employ 5,000
Ford Motor Corp. and South Korea-based SK Innovation plan to build two battery manufacturing plants in Glendale, Kentucky that are expected to employ 5,000 people.