Seven Wildcats named to Phil Steele All-America, All-SEC teams

LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Seven Wildcats have been named to Phil Steele’s All-America and All-Southeastern Conference Teams, it was announced this week.

Senior offensive tackle Darian Kinnard was named a first-team All-American, while senior defensive end Josh Paschal was named to the fourth team. Listed on the All-SEC first team was Kinnard, Paschal and junior wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson. Second-team selections were junior running back Chris Rodriguez Jr., and “super senior” center Luke Fortner. Sophomore outside linebacker J.J. Weaver was listed third-team All-SEC, while senior inside linebacker DeAndre Square was on the fourth team.

Kinnard, a 6-foot-5, 338-pound mountain from Knoxville, Tennessee, led Kentucky with 30 knockdown blocks in 12 games for the 22nd-ranked Wildcats this season. Pro Football Focus evaluated Kinnard as one of only three Power Five tackles to grade at 85 or better as both a run and pass blocker.

Kinnard was recently awarded the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, just the second Kentucky player to win the award, which annually has been given to the SEC’s top blocker since 1935.  He was a semifinalist for both the 2021 Rotary Lombardi Award, given to an offensive or defensive lineman who combines outstanding performance on the field with the character and discipline of NFL Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, and the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman. He also was a two-time SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week following wins over Vanderbilt and Louisville.

Under Kinnard’s leadership on the offensive line, the Wildcats’ offense is averaging 431.1 total yards per game, including 206.1 on the ground, and is averaging 6.57 yards per play, which would set a new school record for a season. According to PFF, UK leads the SEC in rushing yards before contact, averaging 2.6 yards per attempt.

Postseason Awards for Kinnard:

First-Team All-America (Phil Steele, AFCA, AP, FWAA, Walter Camp, CBS Sports, Reese’s Senior Bowl)

Second-Team All-American (The Sporting News, PFF, The Athletic)

First-Team All-SEC (Phil Steele, AP, PFF, Coaches)

2021 Jacobs Blocking Trophy

Paschal, a 6-3, 275-pounder from Prince George’s County, Maryland, is the only three-time full-season team captain in Kentucky football history. The All-American is having his best season yet in 2021, leading the team and ranking second in the SEC with 15.5 tackles for loss. He also has 53 tackles, 5.5 sacks, a team-high eight quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal. Earlier today, he was announced as a finalist for the 2021 Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year.

Postseason Awards for Paschal:

Second-Team All-American (CBS/247Sports)

Fourth-Team All-American (Phil Steele)

Second-Team All-SEC (PFF)

Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Finalist

Second-Team Academic All-American (CoSIDA)

Robinson, a 5-foot-10, 183-pound athlete from Frankfort, Kentucky, has been one of the most electric players to ever come through the Kentucky football program. The transfer from Nebraska has caught a team-high 94 passes, a school single-season record, and his 1,164 receiving yards are second on UK’s single-season list. He ranks sixth nationally in receptions per game and has 11 plays of 30+ yards.

In 12 games this season, Robinson has five 100-yard games which ranks second on UK’s single-season list. He joins Randall Cobb as the only two receivers in school history to have 12 or more receptions in multiple games during their career.

Postseason Awards for Robinson:

Second-Team All-American (PFF)

First-Team All-SEC (Phil Steele, PFF)

Second-Team All-SEC (Coaches)

Rodriguez Jr., a 5-11, 224-pound running back out of McDonough, Georgia, ranks 12th nationally and second in the SEC in rushing this season, averaging 106.0 yards per game. In 12 games this season, he has 1,272 rushing yards, which ranks seventh on UK’s single-season list. Overall, he has 2,633 career rushing yards for seventh on the school’s all-time rushing list. He has 14 100-yard games in his career (third all-time) and a school-record tying eight this season, including each of the last four contests.

Postseason Awards for Rodriguez:

First-Team All-SEC (AP)

Second-Team All-SEC (Phil Steele, Coaches)

HM All-SEC (PFF)

Fortner is a “super senior” and a 6-6, 297-pound center from Sylvania, Ohio. The two-time Campbell Trophy semifinalist has played in 54 career games for Kentucky, starting 35 in a row. After switching from right guard to center prior to the season, Fortner found his niche, excelling in his new role on the “Big Blue Wall.” Under Fortner’s leadership on the line, the Wildcats’ offense is averaging 431.1 total yards per game, including 206.1 on the ground, and is averaging 6.57 yards per play, which would set a new school record for a season.

Postseason Awards for Fortner:

First-Team All-SEC (Coaches)

Second-Team (Phil Steele, PFF)

Second-Team Academic All-American (CoSIDA)

Weaver, a 6-foot-5, 231-pounder from Louisville, Kentucky, has played in all 12 games this season, earning six starting assignments at outside linebacker. He has recorded 34 tackles, including 10.0 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks, four quarterback hurries, two interceptions and a forced fumble. His 10.0 TFLs rank second on the team behind Paschal.

Postseason Awards for Weaver:

Third-Team All-SEC (Phil Steele)

Square, an inside linebacker from Detroit, has played in 48 career games with 34 starting assignments. In 12 starts this season, he ranks second on the team in total tackles (74) and third on the team in tackles for loss (9.0) and sacks (3.0). In addition, he had three quarterback hurries, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.

Postseason Awards for Square:

Fourth-Team All-SEC (Phil Steele)

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