A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky junior offensive tackle Darian Kinnard earns Sporting News All-America accolades

By Susan Lax
University of Kentucky

University of Kentucky junior offensive tackle Darian Kinnard has picked up another national honor as he was named a second team All-American by Sporting News.

He also earned All-America accolades from the Associated Press (third team) and Pro Football Focus (first team), and was a first team All-Southeastern Conference selection by the AP and a second team All-SEC choice by the league coaches. Additionally, he was a candidate for the Outland Trophy given to college football’s top interior lineman.

Darian Kinnard

Kinnard has played in 32 career games with 25 consecutive starts at tackle. He graded at 88 percent in 10 games this season with 40 knockdown blocks and 138 blocks at the point of attack.

This season, behind Kinnard and the “Big Blue Wall,” the Wildcats rank fifth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing at 187.7 yards per game and Kentucky’s offensive line has paved the way for top rusher Chris Rodriguez to average 6.9 yards per carry which leads the SEC and ranks 12th nationally. Playing in just eight games, he has totaled 701 rushing yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.

UK has three current players with more than 1,000 career rushing yards (Rodriguez, A.J. Rose and Terry Wilson), with a fourth player nearing that landmark (Kavosiey Smoke). UK also had three 100-yard rushers (Rodriguez, Rose and Wilson) in a single game (vs. Ole Miss) for the first time in school history.

Kentucky will face N.C. State in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl on Jan. 2 in Jacksonville. Mark Stoops is the first head coach to lead UK to five consecutive bowl appearances.

As a program, UK is tying its school record for consecutive bowl games, with four under head coach Rich Brooks from 2006-09, followed by one with head coach Joker Phillips in 2010. Georgia is the only other SEC East program to earn a bowl invitation each of the past five seasons.

The Cats finished the season 4-6 and look to continue their winning ways after defeating South Carolina in the regular-season finale. Kentucky played a 10-game schedule exclusively against SEC opposition and now has won at least four league games in four of the last five years.

UK has won 20 SEC games during the last five years, the most in any five-year period in school history.

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