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Four Wildcats named AP All-SEC

Darian Kinnard, Chris Rodriguez Jr. and Joshua Paschal named to first team; Wan’Dale Robinson on second team
Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (24) celebrates scoring a touchdown during an NCAA...
Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (24) celebrates scoring a touchdown during an NCAA college football game against Missouri in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)(Michael Clubb | AP)
Published: Dec. 9, 2021 at 3:58 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Associated Press has announced its All-Southeastern Conference teams and four Kentucky football players were honored. Senior offensive tackle Darian Kinnard, senior defensive end Joshua Paschal and junior running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. were named to the first team, while junior wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson earned second-team accolades.

Kinnard, a 6-foot-5, 338-pound mountain from Knoxville, Tennessee, continues to rack up the postseason honors this season after leading the team at the right tackle position with 30 knockdown blocks. He also allowed only one quarterback sack in 375 pass plays. Pro Football Focus evaluated Kinnard as one of only three Power Five tackles to grade at 85 or better as both a run and pass blocker.

Kinnard was recently awarded the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy, just the second Kentucky player to win the award, which annually has been given to the SEC’s top blocker since 1935.  He was a semifinalist for both the 2021 Rotary Lombardi Award, given to an offensive or defensive lineman who combines outstanding performance on the field with the character and discipline of NFL Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, and the Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman. He also was a two-time SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week following wins over Vanderbilt and Louisville. In addition, he has earned first-team All-America honors by CBS/247sports and the Senior Bowl and second-team All-America by PFF and The Athletic.

Under Kinnard’s leadership on the offensive line, the Wildcats’ offense is averaging 431.1 total yards per game, including 206.1 on the ground, and is averaging 6.57 yards per play, which would set a new school record for a season. According to PFF, UK leads the SEC in rushing yards before contact, averaging 2.6 yards per attempt.

Paschal, a 6-3, 275-pound defensive end from Prince George’s County, Maryland, is the only three-time full-season team captain in Kentucky football history. The All-American is having his best season yet in 2021, leading the team and ranking second in the SEC with 15.5 tackles for loss. He also has 53 tackles, 5.5 sacks, a team-high eight quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a blocked field goal.

Paschal has also earned second-team All-America honors this postseason by CBS/247Sports and he was named to the All-SEC second team by PFF.

Rodriguez Jr., a 5-11, 224-pound running back out of McDonough, Georgia, ranks 12th nationally and second in the SEC in rushing this season, averaging 106.0 yards per game. In 12 games this season, he has 1,272 rushing yards, which ranks seventh on UK’s single-season list. Overall, he has 2,633 career rushing yards for seventh on the school’s all-time rushing list. He has 14 100-yard games in his career (third all-time) and a school-record tying eight this season, including each of the last four contests.

Rodriguez received second-team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches and was an honorable-mention All-SEC choice by PFF.

Robinson, a 5-foot-10, 183-pounder from Frankfort, Kentucky, has been one of the most electric players to ever come through the Kentucky football program. The transfer from Nebraska has caught a team-high 94 passes, a school single-season record, and his 1,164 receiving yards are second on UK’s single-season list. He ranks sixth nationally in receptions per game and has 11 plays of 30+ yards.

In 12 games this season, Robinson has five 100-yard games which ranks second on UK’s single-season list. He joins Randall Cobb as the only two receivers in school history to have 12 or more receptions in multiple games during their career.

Robinson was a first-team All-SEC selection by PFF and a second-team All-SEC choice by the league’s coaches.