LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky was picked to finish third in the Southeastern Conference Eastern division in a preseason media poll released Friday.
The Wildcats were chosen behind projected division winner Georgia (923 votes) and Florida (784 votes). The Wildcats received 624 votes, including two first-place votes. Missouri was fourth (555), followed by Tennessee (362), South Carolina (355) and Vanderbilt with 149 votes.
“It's a great term, super seniors, the guys that decided to come back, and we greatly appreciate having that experience,” Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops said. “There's six guys that bring a wealth of experience. They've won a lot of football games. They've been to a lot of bowl games and had some success. Hopefully, they'll help us take it to another level and provide the leadership that we need.”
The Bulldogs received 124 first-place votes, followed by Florida with seven. Alabama was projected to win the overall title and picked first in the SEC West, receiving all but four first-place votes with 932 votes. Texas A&M was second (760), followed by LSU (633), Ole Miss (529), Auburn (440), Arkansas (241) and Mississippi State with 217.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said his squad needs to be “better everywhere” to duplicate the team’s past success.
“It starts with what we do — but the introspection was for us to find maybe a different way to do things and hear a different voice, and we've done that,” Smart said. “The weekly meetings that we've had, that we've drawn time away from football, have been incredible. The gains we received in players being able to confront each other. It's easy to say the guy's not doing his job, to demand him to do it right, but it's hard when you have a unified group pulling the same direction to be the outlier.
“We've tried to make that more difficult through our introspection and through our meetings and through our growth as a team. I'm just excited to see the dividends of that in fall camp of where we can go and where we can get better.”
Kentucky offensive lineman Darian Kinnard was named All-SEC first-team on offense, while running back Chris Rodriguez was a third-team selection, along with offensive lineman Luke Fortner. Josh Paschal was a second-team selection on defense and defensive back Yusuf Corker was named to the third-team.
Stoops added that his team has a good mixture of veterans, transfers and newwcomers.
“I feel like it's also a good time for us,” Stoops said. “It gives us great balance. Roster management is such a big deal now, with what's going on, again, with the portal and all the transfers and different things. I feel like we have good balance within our six classes now, which is very different, but that will change each year.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.