Several football Cats playing in all-star games

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A handful of former University of Kentucky football players, including kicker Craig McIntosh, offensive linemen Larry Warford and Matt Smith, wide receiver La’Rod King, defensive back Martavius Neloms and defensive lineman Collins Ukwu, have accepted invitations to participate in national all-star games.

McIntosh will play in the 2013 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 19, while Warford will play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26. Smith, King, Neloms and Ukwu have been selected to play in the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game on Feb. 2.

McIntosh is one of many talented draft-eligible seniors competing in the Collegiate Bowl, is sponsored by the National Football League Players Association. The game will be held at The Home Depot Center on the campus of California State University-Dominguez Hills in Carson, Calif. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET and the game will be televised live on ESPN2.

Participants in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl receive an in-depth introduction to the union – the primary resource for information on the business of football and how to succeed in the NFL and in post-football careers.

Pro football players and coaching legends work with the game’s future stars, giving them first-hand insight on what it takes to win on and off of the field. Herm Edwards and Dick Vermeil will serve as the head coaches for the American and National Teams. Player Ambassadors for the game include former NFL players Terrell Davis, Hank Baskett, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Lorenzo Neal and Andre Reed.

McIntosh was named to the preseason watch list for the 2012 Lou Groza Award. In 2011, he finished second in the Southeastern Conference in field goal percentage, making 12 of 14, and led the Wildcats in scoring with 56 points. He finished his senior campaign as Kentucky’s leading scorer with 51 points.

Warford will be in the Senior Bowl, which will be played on Jan. 26 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., with kickoff set for 4 p.m. ET. It will be televised on the NFL Network. Warford is the first UK player to be selected for the Senior Bowl since Derrick Locke in 2010 and he becomes the 33rd former Wildcat to participate in the event.

Warford earned third-team All-America honors in 2012 by The Associated Press and Phil Steele’s College Football. He did not allow a sack and graded at 90.3 percent for the season. He led the team with 45 knockdown blocks.

According to the bowl’s web site, the Senior Bowl is the nation’s most unique football game and football’s premier pre-draft event, annually featuring the country’s best senior collegiate football stars and top NFL draft prospects on teams representing the North and South. The teams are coached by the entire coaching staffs from two National Football League teams. The SEC leads the way at this year’s Senior Bowl, filling nearly one-quarter of the roster spots for the 2013 game.

Smith, King, Neloms and Ukwu will play for the Nation in the annual Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game, which will take place Jan. 2 at Eagle Stadium in Allen, Texas. Kickoff for the game is set for 2:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on Fox Sports.

The Texas vs. the Nation All-Star Game pits top collegiate players originally from Texas or who play college football in Texas against top players from around the nation. According to its official web site, the game is ranked in the top 10 all-time in NFL signees for an all-star game. Including this year, UK has had 10 players in the game since it was inaugurated in 2007.

Smith was a three-year starter at center and turned in a steady, solid performance in 2012. He excels in directing the offensive line calls and the shotgun snap. King led the Wildcats in receiving with 48 catches for 488 yards and four touchdowns. His career statistics featured 134 catches for 1,706 yards and 17 touchdowns, ranking in the UK career top-10 list in each category.

On the defensive side, Neloms played cornerback and safety, making 53 tackles, with two caused fumbles and an interception. Ukwu totaled 41 tackles, six tackles for loss, for quarterback sacks, caused two fumbles and blocked two kicks.

UK already has had one of the 2012 seniors in a post-season event as defensive end Taylor Wyndham played in the Casino Del Sol All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz. Wyndham had 27 tackles as a senior, featuring six tackles for loss and two sacks.

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