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 Draft Scout College Football Player News: Kentucky
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  Former North Carolina State quarterback Devin Leary and former Northern Illinois left tackle Marques Cox, both projected to start for the Wildcats in the fall, expressed optimism about the status of their rehabilitation from injuries that ended their 2022 seasons early in interviews with reporters Wednesday but stopped short of placing a specific timetable for their return to the field. UK Coach Mark Stoops previously said he expected both players to be available for at least part of spring practice but said he was unsure if either would be limited. "Absolutely on schedule," Leary said Wednesday. "I feel really good. Really just taking it day by day and making sure I'm following the doctors' protocols and listening to the trainers in the training room. The strength and conditioning staff just keeping me on pace. But right now I'm in a really good spot."

Leary entered the 2022 season as the preseason ACC Player of the Year and a dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate, but his season ended after just six games when he tore the pectoral muscle on his right side in an Oct. 8 game against Florida State. The injury required surgery just more than a month later. The torn pectoral muscle was the second major injury for Leary, who also saw his 2020 season end early due to a fractured fibula. "Honestly, it was just two freak accidents," Leary said. "It can be frustrating, but that's the game we sign up to play. It's a violent sport. At the end of the day, I'm still grateful to be here. Still grateful to be around awesome doctors, awesome trainers to where I'm standing here in front of you today getting ready to play this season. Obviously in the moment it's very unfortunate, but at the same time, I'm a guy that lives by everything happens for a reason. I know I'll bounce back and play better than I ever have before." - Herald Leader


rSr/2024 QB Devin LearyKentucky
News Source: Herald Leader
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  The incoming quarterback transfer from North Carolina State might not boast the over-the-top physical tools that have made Will Levis a darling of NFL Draft projectors. But Devin Leary is a far more polished and accomplished college QB than Levis was when he came to UK from Penn State in 2021. Over his four seasons (2019-2022) with the Wolfpack, Leary threw for 6,807 yards while completing 60.2 percent of his throws with 62 touchdowns vs. 16 interceptions. "This guy can throw the football as good as anybody in the country," Coen said. Where the 6-foot-1, 212-pound Leary has been vulnerable is to injury. In 2020, Leary's season ended after four games due to a broken fibula. Last year, Leary was sidelined after six games due to a torn pectoral muscle. - Herald Leader

rSr/2024 QB Devin LearyKentucky
News Source: Herald Leader
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  There's a reason that Liam Coen, Kentucky's old and now new offensive coordinator, proclaimed during a video news conference Thursday that fixing the offensive line is "the No. 1 priority when we get there. It's a unit we need to address, and address quickly." The reconstruction of the Big Blue Wall has begun in the transfer portal with the additions of former Northern Illinois left tackle Marques Cox and former Alabama guard Tanner Bowles.

The versatile Kenneth Horsey's announcement that he would use his "free COVID-19 year" and return in 2023 means Kentucky has four offensive line starters back. If Cox can hold down the left tackle spot, it would allow Horsey to shift from that position to his more natural fit at left guard. That alone could go a long way in stabilizing the Kentucky offensive front. - Herald Leader


rSr/2024 OG Kenneth HorseyKentucky
News Source: Herald Leader
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  Kentucky offensive coordinator, fresh from coaching the Los Angeles Rams, took a look at his new players, starting with quarterback Devin Leary, who transferred from NC State."I do believe that this guy can throw the football as good as anybody in the country. He wanted to come to Kentucky to obviously win football games and have an opportunity to win an SEC championship but also to be developed into a future NFL quarterback. He knows that he needs to jump under center a little bit and do some of the things that he hasn't done in his career up to this point in order to have some more comfort going into play at the highest level of football. "A lot out of this is going to be about Devin and what he's comfortable with. It's his last year of football, and I'd be crazy to walk in there and say, 'This is what you're doing. This is how you're doing it,' when maybe he's completely uncomfortable doing some of those things. It's going to be a collaboration - some of the things that he was successful with in his past, but also some of the things that we know we need to do in order to operate in the SEC." - Courier Journal

rSr/2024 QB Devin LearyKentucky
News Source: Courier Journal
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  Less than a week after losing one former five-star recruit from its defensive line, Kentucky football has found a new former five-star prospect for the position. North Carolina transfer defensive tackle Keeshawn Silver, who was ranked as the No. 31 prospect in the high school class of 2021 by the 247Sports Composite, committed to Kentucky on Sunday after an official visit to campus. While Silver was considered one of the best prospects in his high school class as a five-star recruit, he totaled just four tackles in two years at North Carolina.

At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, Silver looks the part of an SEC defensive lineman, but he has work to do to cash in on his immense recruiting hype. Kentucky will hope he can develop into a rotation piece a line that is on track to return five of its top six players, led by freshman All-American defensive tackle Deone Walker. Silver is not a like-for-like replacement for nose guard Justin Rogers, a former five-star recruit who started every game in 2022 for UK before entering the transfer portal next season, but if he develops into a contributor at tackle, it would allow Kentucky to play Walker more at nose guard. Or Silver could move positions to play nose himself. - Herald Leader


rSo/2026 DT Keeshawn SilverKentucky
News Source: Herald Leader
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  Little about Tayvion Robinson's debut season for Kentucky football went according to plan. But one year after transferring from Virginia Tech to Lexington, Robinson has elected to return to Kentucky to use the extra season of eligibility granted all players in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When Robinson signed with the Wildcats he was viewed as a like-for-like replacement for former star receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, who broke the school records for catches and receiving yards in a single season in 2021 before being drafted by the New York Giants.

Tayvion Robinson looked the part of quarterback Will Levis' new go-to receiver when he tallied six catches for 136 yards in his Kentucky debut, but he would top the 100-yard plateau just one more time in 12 games. Against SEC teams, Robinson caught just 15 passes for 121 total yards. Meanwhile, freshmen Barion Brown and Dane Key emerged as the top wide receiver options. Robinson finished the year ranked second on the team in catches (40) and third in receiving yards (497) and receiving touchdowns (three). He also arrived on campus with the reputation as an elite punt returner but was unable to make much impact in that area amid season-long struggles from UK's special teams units. - Herald Leader


rSr/2024 WR Tayvion RobinsonKentucky
News Source: Herald Leader
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  Kentucky football's defense got a lift Sunday afternoon. Fourth-year junior linebacker JJ Weaver announced on social media he'll return for his senior season. "This what's best for me!!" his tweet said in part. A third-team All-Southeastern Conference pick and team captain in 2022, Weaver finished with 47 tackles (six for loss), three sacks and two forced fumbles for a Wildcats defense that ranked 11th in the nation before the Music City Bowl.

Arguably his best game came in the regular-season finale against Louisville, when he posted seven tackles, a TFL, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup in a 26-13 win. Weaver went through senior day festivities but hadn't announced his intentions at the time. Weaver started a career-high nine games (out of 11 played) in 2022 and has started 16 of 35 games in his career. He had six sacks in 2021, a career high, after tearing his ACL in November 2020. - Courier Journal


rSr/2024 OLB J.J. WeaverKentucky
News Source: Courier Journal
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  Kentucky football's most experienced offensive lineman is returning for the 2023 season. Senior Kenneth Horsey announced Thursday he will use the extra year of eligibility granted all players during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to return to Kentucky. Horsey spent the 2022 season as the Wildcats' primary left tackle but is expected to move back to his natural guard position next season. UK coaches have spoken of Horsey as a piece for the 2023 offensive line since the last month of the regular season, but Horsey told reporters before the Music City Bowl he had not made a final decision about his future.

"I know it's my responsibility as a captain to make sure everything is still running smooth, no matter who's playing and who's not playing," Horsey said then. "It's my responsibility and the older guys' responsibility to make sure everybody, the younger guys understand how they need to practice, how they need to prepare. I have time to make that decision stuff later." A team captain, Horsey has appeared in 37 games with 33 consecutive starts in those appearances. He primarily played guard in 2019, 2020 and 2021, but moved to left tackle in 2022 after former starter Dare Rosenthal left school early to declare for the NFL Draft and several younger linemen proved they were not ready to take over the position. - Herald Leader


rSr/2024 OG Kenneth HorseyKentucky
News Source: Herald Leader
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  Potential No. 1 draft pick Will Levis left Kentucky at the end of the season to begin preparing for his pro career, but the transfer portal just might produce a ready replacement. According to multiple reports, North Carolina State transfer quarterback Devin Leary is headed to the Wildcats after receiving significant interest since the regular season ended. Kentucky won't have Levis or running back Chris Rodriguez in the Music City Bowl on New Year's Eve, serving in a coaching role instead.

Leary threw for 3,433 yards with 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions in 2021 but played only six games in 2022. Leary has one year of eligibility remaining after a productive four-year career with the Wolfpack. He tore a pectoral muscle on Oct. 8 and finished the 2022 season with 1,265 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions in six games. Leary completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 6,807 yards, with 62 touchdowns and 16 interceptions across 30 games from 2019-22. He also scored five rushing touchdowns. - St. Louis Post-Dispatch


rSr/2024 QB Devin LearyKentucky
News Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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  Carrington Valentine's Kentucky football career is over. Valentine, a two-year starter at cornerback for the Wildcats, has decided to forego his final year of NCAA eligibility and declare for the 2023 NFL Draft, he announced Thursday via social media. The junior from Cincinnati joins quarterback Will Levis and running back Chris Rodriguez in sitting out of UK's Music City Bowl matchup against Iowa on New Year's Eve. After thanking those who helped him on his journey from Moeller High School to Lexington in a statement posted to Twitter, Valentine said, "I truly believe that I have accomplished all there is to accomplish at the collegiate level." "I wish all of my teammates the best of luck in the Music City Bowl," Valentine wrote. "We have forged some of the most memorable moments together. I will truly miss each and every one of you."

A three-star recruit in the Class of 2020, Valentine appeared in 35 games (25 starts) across three seasons with Kentucky. For his career, the 6-foot, 194-pound cornerback amassed 119 total tackles (87 unassisted), 17 pass breakups, a forced fumble, three tackles for loss and two sacks. His lone interception came during a Week 3 win against Youngstown State, and he also recovered a fumble during a Week 11 loss to Vanderbilt. Valentine's departure means Kentucky will be looking to replace both its starting cornerbacks from the 2022 season. The other starter, Ole Miss transfer Keidron Smith, has exhausted his NCAA eligibility after one season with the Wildcats. - Courier Journal


Jr/2023 CB *Carrington ValentineKentucky
News Source: Courier Journal
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  Ohio State football has its third entrant into the transfer portal. Safety Jantzen Dunn announced Tuesday on Twitter that he entered the transfer portal after two seasons with the Buckeyes. Dunn is Ohio State's third player to enter the transfer portal after the 2022 regular season, joining safety Jaylen Johnson and linebacker Teradja Mitchell. Dunn was a four-star safety out of Bowling Green, Kentucky, enrolling into the program in January 2021. He was the No. 10 safety in the 2021 class and the second-ranked player out of Kentucky behind offensive lineman Jager Burton. Dunn held offers from Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Texas and Southern California, among others. - Columbus Dispatch

rSo/2026 FS Jantzen DunnKentucky
News Source: Columbus Dispatch
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  2022 SEC ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM: DL Deone Walker, Kentucky,...Postseason honors continue to roll in for Walker, a 6-6, 330-pounder from Detroit. He finished the regular season with 39 total tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, five quarterback hurries, two pass breakups and one forced fumble. He has been named to the Pro Football Focus True Freshman All-America Team, the College Football News All-America First Team and was recently named the SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week on Nov. 28 for his role in UK's 26-13 win over intrastate rival Louisville. - Kentucky Football

Fr/2026 DT Deone WalkerKentucky
News Source: Kentucky Football
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  Kentucky football will play its bowl game without star quarterback Will Levis. Levis, who played through injuries for most of the 2022 season, announced Wednesday he would opt out of the Wildcats' bowl game in order to focus on returning to 100% in advance of the 2023 NFL Draft. Levis is widely projected as a first-round draft pick and one of the top quarterbacks in the draft class. Kentucky is scheduled to face Iowa in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31 in Nashville.

Despite playing just two seasons for Kentucky, Levis ranks fifth in program history in passing touchdowns (43) and total offensive yards (5,502) and sixth in passing yards (5,233). His 3,203 yards of total offense in 2021 were sixth most by a Wildcat in a single season. Kentucky was 17-7 in games Levis started at quarterback. He was behind center for just the second 10-win season for Kentucky since 1977 in his first season as starter. Levis started two wins against Florida and two wins against Louisville. - Herald Leader


rSr/2023 QB Will LevisKentucky
News Source: Herald Leader
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  2022 SEC ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM: WR/AP/KR Barion Brown, Kentucky,...Brown, a 6-foot-1, 166-pounder from Nashville, led the Wildcats this season with 45 catches for 604 yards and four scores, averaging 13.4 yards per catch. His four touchdowns receiving are the second-most by a freshman in school history, behind only teammate Dane Key's record of six. He also led the team in kick return yardage with 15 returns for 424 yards and one score, averaging 28.3 yards per return. He ranked fifth in the SEC in receiving yards per game (50.33) and was eighth in receptions per game (3.75). - Kentucky Football

So/2026 WR Barion BrownKentucky
News Source: Kentucky Football
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  2022 SEC ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM: OL Jager Burton, Kentucky,...Burton, a 6-4, 301-pound Lexington, Kentucky native, started all 12 games at left guard and helped running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. average 113.0 rushing yards per game. Burton became the first UK freshman offensive lineman to start all 12 games since Zach West in 2012 and he is the first Wildcat offensive linemen to earn Freshman All-SEC honors since Logan Stenberg in 2016.  In 12 games, he played 803 snaps and had 25 knockdowns. - Kentucky Football

rSo/2026 OG Jager BurtonKentucky
News Source: Kentucky Football
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