LEXINGTON, Ky. – The more things change for Braxton Kelley and Wesley Woodyard, the more they stay the same.
First, Kelley and Woodyard were teammates at LaGrange (Ga.) High School. Then, the linebackers were cornerstones of the recent turnaround of Kentucky football. And now, Kelley has rejoined his buddy as a free-agent signee with the Denver Broncos.
Kelley is the seventh Wildcat to sign a free-agent contract since the National Football League draft concluded Sunday.
Kelley was a four-year starter at Kentucky, helping lead the Wildcats to consecutive bowl wins following the 2006, ’07 and ’08 seasons. He totaled 287 tackles during his career, including 20.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 quarterback sacks. He led the team with a career-high 98 tackles as a senior and was named second-team All-Southeastern Conference by Phil Steele’s College Football. He capped his career by being named the Most Outstanding Defensive Player of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, with a team-high eight tackles, including two for loss and a quarterback sack, in UK’s 25-19 victory over East Carolina.
Kelley’s path to the NFL will be similar to that of his longtime friend. Despite leading the SEC in tackles as a senior, Woodyard was undrafted and signed with the Broncos as a free agent. Not only did he earn a place on the team, Woodyard also started six games as a rookie and made 55 tackles during the season.
Kelley is one of eight seniors from the 2008 squad who will be vying for a spot on an NFL roster next season. In addition to defensive tackle Myron Pryor, a sixth-round draft pick by New England, free-agent signees also include defensive end Ventrell Jenkins (Buffalo), cornerback David Jones (Baltimore), punter Tim Masthay (Indianapolis), free safety Marcus McClinton (New England), offensive tackle Garry Williams (Carolina) and linebacker Johnny Williams (Jacksonville).
Kentucky’s presence in the NFL has increased dramatically over the last two years. Seven seniors from the 2007 team were drafted or were free-agent signees, six of whom made an active roster or practice squad.
Brooks, Lorenzen Win $15,000 in Scholarship Money for UK: Coach Rich Brooks and former Wildcat quarterback Jared Lorenzen won $15,000 for University of Kentucky scholarships during the Chick-fil-A Bowl Golf Challenge completed Tuesday in Greensboro, Ga.
Brooks and Lorenzen finished in eighth place in the event, scoring at four under par on the Reynolds Plantation course. Steve Spurrier and Sterling Sharpe of South Carolina was the winning team.
A total of $350,000 in scholarship money was awarded at the Chick-fil-A Golf Challenge, part of the $1.3 million of charitable contributions that the Chick-fil-A Bowl will make in 2009.
Season Ticket Renewal Deadline is May 1: The deadline for renewal of 2009 Kentucky football season tickets is Friday, May 1. Tickets may be renewed on the Internet at UKathletics.com, in person at the UK Athletics Ticket Office or by mail.