Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Maxwell Hairston has been named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week, it was announced Monday.
In Saturday’s 45-28 win at Vanderbilt, Hairston tied an SEC record by returning two interceptions for touchdowns. It was sweet revenge for Hairston after he gave up a long completion in the final minutes of last season’s upset loss to Vanderbilt that helped the Dores score the game-winning touchdown.
The sophomore from West Bloomfield (MI) got his first pick-six in the opening quarter when he snagged a floating pass near the sideline and went 29 yards for the touchdown to give Kentucky a 14-0 lead.
Then in the fourth quarter, Hairston grabbed another pass near the same sideline and went 54 yards to the end zone to give the Cats a 45-21 lead.
For the game, Hairston had four tackles, three pass breakups, and two pick-sixes for 83 return yards. Two of the breakups came on series of downs that ended in punts, while all four of his tackles came on plays of 11 yards or less.
On the season, Hairston has 23 tackles, one tackle for loss, three interceptions, three pass breakups and a forced fumble.
Along with fellow starter Andru Phillips, Hairston currently is part of the best cornerback tandem in the SEC.
Kentucky has the two highest-graded cornerbacks in the SEC.— Braxton Drake Howard (@PFF_Braxton) September 24, 2023
Maxwell Hairston — 85.8 PFF grade
Andru Phillips — 82.0 PFF grade
And Deone Walker is the SEC’s highest-graded interior defender. He has 12 pressures through four games.