It’s been a rewarding week for Kentucky football Mark Stoops and Wildcats linebacker Josh Allen.
Stoops was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year by his peers Wednesday. The league coaches voted Allen as the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Allen set the Kentucky record with 28.5 career sacks, including a school-record 14 in 2018. He is the SEC’s leader in sacks, tackles for loss (18.5) and forced fumbles (5). Allen is tied for first on Kentucky’s all-time career forced fumbles list with 11. He was named winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy awarded to the nation’s top defensive player.
“He's the total package,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said earlier this year. “He's not one-dimensional. He can do a lot of things. He's very disruptive. You gotta know where he is at all times. He's what you want when you design a three-four defense. He's your prototype guy, and he has been disruptive to everyone in this conference, and everybody you talk to talk about how good a player he is.”
Kentucky’s senior linebacker and pass rushing specialist started the week by being named the defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference as voted on by the Associated Press and then Monday night in Charlotte he collected the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is presented to the nation’s best defensive player.
Stoops led Kentucky to a 9-3 regular season record, including a 5-3 mark in SEC play, both of which are the best for the Wildcats since 1977. Kentucky earned a bid to the Citrus Bowl for the first time in school history, and the Wildcats will play in a New Year’s Day bowl for the first time since 1998. Stoops was named AP Coach of the Year earlier this week.
“I got a lot of respect for Mark and the job he’s done,” Smart said recently. “I think it’s really remarkable, and it shows the patience of an athletic department to stick with a guy who I think is one of the best coaches in all of college football.”
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was named the league’s top offensive player. Braden Mann (Texas A&M) was Special Teams Player of the Year, followed by Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, who was the Special Teams Player of the Year. Hale Hentges of Alabama received the Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, while Jonah Williams (Alabama) won the Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.