Recognizing The Best From Last Season
Quite simply the 2021 season was a great one for the Kentucky football team. Mark Stoops‘ club went 10-3 and 5-3 in league play. In addition they captured their fourth straight bowl win and sixth consecutive bowl overall. As a result there’s tons of great things to recap from this year. Without any further ado, let’s start handing out some hardware with our 2021 Kentucky Football Awards.
Offensive Player Of The Year
The Winner- Wan’Dale Robinson– When the Frankfort native announced he was transferring back to Kentucky after two years at Nebraska the BBN expected big things. However no one expected the numbers he put up.
Robinson set school records with 104 receptions and 1,334 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. His receptions and yards placed him second in the SEC in both categories.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) January 4, 2022
Robinson saved arguably his best performance for last. In Kentucky’s 20-17 Citrus Bowl win over Iowa he hauled in 10 catches for 170 yards. In addition he made a huge play at the end leading to the Wildcats’ game winning score. We’ll have more about that later. Following the end of the season he announced he was heading to the NFL. Currently Robinson is projected as a second round pick.
Also Nominated- Will Levis and Chris Rodriguez– After transferring to Lexington from Penn State Levis helped lead the Cats to their 10 second win season in four years. The junior threw for 2,826 yards and 24 touchdowns. In addition he ran for 376 yards and nine more touchdowns which included four scores and 113 yards in the annual beat down of Louisville. Levis made the BBN happy when he announced he’s coming back for another year.
As a junior Rodriguez ran for 1,378 yards putting him second in the SEC to go along with 10 touchdowns. He cracked the century mark in nine of the Cats’ 13 games this year including a career high of 206 against Missouri. Much like Levis he’s also coming back for 2022 where he needs 1,135 yard to break Benny Snell’s school rushing record.
Defensive Player Of The Year
The Winner(s)- Yusuf Corker, Jacquez Jones, DeAndre Square and Josh Paschal. In the idea of complete transparency you could make the case for all four of these guys. The decision was near impossible to make so I put a poll up on my twitter page which Paschal won. As a senior the Maryland native recorded 52 tackles with an incredible 15.5 for a loss. In addition he recorded five sacks. The heart and soul of Brad White’s group is certainly a great choice.
Of course he wasn’t the only choice as Jones tied with the most tackles with 82, 3.5 for a loss and one interception. Corker also had 82 tackles, defended eight passes and added a sack. Much like Paschal he decided opted not to take another season and declared for the NFL Draft. Square finished second on the team in tackles with 81 including nine for a loss. He also had three sacks and like Jones one memorable interception. The senior decided on using his “COVID year” granted by the NCAA and is returning.
Continuing on with our 2021 Kentucky Football Awards let’s turn to a team award.
The Winner- Citrus Bowl vs. Iowa- The ESPN family of networks must love Kentucky. Over their school record six game bowl streak the last five have gone down the wire. The New Year’s game against Iowa was no different. The Cats jumped out to a 13-3 half time lead only to see the Hawkeyes score 14 unanswered to go up 17-13.
Late in the game UK got the ball back with one last chance. Levis hit Robinson with a pass taking it to the one yard line. Two plays later Rodriguez scored giving the Cats the lead. Iowa had a final opportunity but Square picked off a Spencer Petras pass and the Cats had a school record fourth straight bowl win..
Also nominated- Florida, LSU and Louisville. In any other season beating the Gators at home for the first time in 35 years would be the obvious choice. However as exciting as that game was it wasn’t the best Florida squad so that comes in second. The first game against the Tigers in Lexington since Kentucky knocked off the number one Tigers in 2007 was an excellent display by the Cats. Levis accounted for five touchdowns in a 42-21 blowout win. As mentioned earlier the Cats blasted Louisville 52-21.
The 2021 season mirrored 2018 in so many ways. Kentucky won 10 games in both seasons. beat a Big 10 team in the Citrus Bowl, and a bad loss to Tennessee. Much like 2018 the Vols knocked off the Cats and in the process possibly cost them a Peach Bowl bid. Despite 612 yards of total offense the Cats couldn’t get the job done losing 45-42. Ok enough of that as we finish up our 2021 Kentucky Football Awards with play of the year.
Most Outstanding Play
The winner- Will Levis to Wan’Dale Robinson versus Iowa– With time running out and the Cats trailing Iowa 17-13 they needed yards quick. Levis hit Robinson who did the rest taking the ball down to the one yard line. It was on this play the junior set the school receiving yards record.
Also nominated- Jacquez Jones pass deflection against Florda and Will Levis’ run against Louisville. The Big Blue Nation had seen it time after time, a late lead against Florida wilt away at the end. With the Cats clinging to a 20-13 lead it looked like history might repeat itself again. On a fourth down at the Kentucky eight Jones stepped in and knocked down an Emory Jones pass preserving the first home win over the Gators since 1986.
Kentucky linebacker Jacquez Jones has been named Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week for his play in UK's 20-13 upset of then-No. 10 Florida. The Ole Miss transfer had 9 tackles, a TFL, a QB hurry & the game-saving pass breakup on Florida’s final play from scrimmage
— Mark Story (@markcstory) October 3, 2021
We mentioned it earlier but for a third straight contest the Cats had their way with Louisville. There were many special moments in the 52-21 but this Levis run was definitely the highlight.
Some great highlights from what was another incredible season from the Wildcats. Thanks for checking out the 2o21 Kentucky Football Awards with us here at Last Word On College Football. Agree or disagree with our picks? Feel free to leave a comment below.