Kentucky has placed 10 players on the Reese’s Senior Bowl watch list, it was announced Wednesday.
Wildcats represented include: tight end Brenden Bates, offensive lineman Kenneth Horsey, inside linebacker Jacquez Jones, quarterback Will Levis, offensive lineman Tashawn Manning, wide receiver Tayvion Robinson, running back ball Chris Rodriguez Jr., inside linebacker DeAndre Square, tight end Keaton Upshaw and outside linebacker Jordan Wright.
The 74e The annual game is scheduled to take place on February 4, 2023 at the University of South Alabama’s Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. Game time is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. ET on the NFL Network.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl is the nation’s most prestigious college all-star game, as it serves as the first stage of the NFL Draft process each year. Reese’s Senior Bowl featured 40% of the entire 2022 NFL Draft class, including 45 of the top 100 players.
Bates, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, has played 34 career games and is returning to the tight end room after a breakthrough junior season in 2021. He got his first career start last season, playing in all 13 games and starting six in ‘between them. In his first career start, he scored his first touchdown after making a four-yard catch in the season opener against ULM. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound tight end also recorded a season-high two receptions against No. 1 Georgia and border rival Tennessee.
Horsey, a native of Sanford, Fla., has been at left guard for two seasons and is now the Wildcats’ most experienced lineman with 25 career games and 21 career starts. An interesting note about Horsey – he underwent open-heart surgery in April 2018, ahead of his first year in the UK. Due to his persistence in returning to play, he won the 2020 Mayo Clinic Returning Player of the Year award. His background in heart health led him to volunteer with the Lexington Local Chapter of the American Heart Association and he later earned a spot on the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and Community Service Team from the SEC in 2021.
Horsey graduated on December 17, 2021 with a degree in communications and is currently working on a master’s degree in social work.
Jones joined the UK from Ole Miss ahead of the 2021 campaign and led the team with 86 total tackles. He had 3.5 tackles for loss, a sealed pass breakup against Florida, a recovered fumble and a forced fumble.
Manning, who has spent the past five seasons with the Auburn Tigers, adds a ton of experience to the “Big Blue Wall.” The Apopka, Fla. native is a 6-foot-4, 330-pound offensive lineman who has played in 30 games and made 14 starts in the Southeastern Conference. As a senior in 2021, Manning was rated the team’s top tackler by Pro Football Focus, where he appeared in 12 of Auburn’s 13 games, including three starts against Mississippi State, South Carolina and Auburn. The previous year, he started in all 11 games for the Tigers.
Manning graduated from Auburn in December 2020 with a degree in interdisciplinary studies emphasizing business, leadership and sports coaching. He is currently pursuing a second degree in Sport, Fitness and Leisure Management.
Rodriguez, a product of McDonough, Georgia, is the SEC’s first returning rusher. In 2021, he averaged 106.1 yards per game, ranking 12th nationally and second in the SEC. His 1,379 rushing yards ranked fifth on the UK single-season list and he became the 10th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. This is the 14th time a Wildcat has accomplished this feat. He had nine 100-yard rushing games last season, a school record. He also had 13 receptions for 61 yards and three touchdowns.
For his career, Rodriguez has 2,740 rushing yards (sixth on the UK career list), 26 rushing touchdowns (tied for second on the UK career list) and 15 100-yard games (third of the school’s history).
Rodriguez graduated in May 2022 with a degree in Community Leadership and Development. He is currently working on a second degree in communication.
Levis, from Madison, Connecticut, is entering his second year as a starter at quarterback. He had an impressive first season for the Wildcats after transferring from Penn State in 2021. In 13 games, he threw for 2,827 yards and 24 scores, while rushing for 376 net yards and nine touchdowns. His 24 TD passes were the most since Andre’ Woodson had 40 in 2007. He had 3,203 total rushing yards, the seventh player in school history to reach 3,000 rushing yards. total attack in one season.
Levis graduated in May 2021 from Penn State’s Smeal College of Business in three years with a degree in finance. He is currently working on a Masters in Finance from the Gatton School of Business and Economics in the UK.
Robinson comes to Bluegrass after three seasons and 36 games at Virginia Tech. He compiled 113 receptions for 1,555 yards and nine touchdowns (eight receptions, one TD punt return) in his Hokie career.
Square (49 career games, 35 career starts) was the UK’s third-highest tackler in 2021 with 80 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks. He also had three quarterback rushes. Square had the decisive interception in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against Iowa.
Upshaw, another familiar face in the tight Kentucky room, will finally return to the field after missing action last season due to injury. A 6-foot-6, 246-pound product from Lima, Ohio, is back for his senior season in 2022, with 24 career games and six career starts under his belt. The last time he adapted for the Wildcats, he played in all 11 games and made four starts in 2020, totaling 16 catches for 193 yards and three scores.
Upshaw graduated from Kentucky in May 2022, earning a degree in community development and leadership. He is currently preparing a second diploma in health promotion.
On the other side of the ball, Wright, an outside linebacker from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., joins his teammates on Reese’s Senior Bowl watch list. Like Manning, he brings a ton of experience to the team, opting to return to Kentucky for his sixth season. Wright, a 6-foot-5, 231-pound super senior, has played in 42 career games with 12 career starting assignments. During that span, he combined for 106 tackles, including 15.5 tackles for loss and a team-high 7.5 sacks. He is also credited with 12 pass breakups, six quarterback rushes and four forced fumbles and fumble recoveries at Kentucky. He returns to the OLB squad after an impressive conclusion to his senior season, which featured a career-high 10 tackles in Kentucky’s fourth straight win over Iowa in the 2022 Vrbo Citrus Bowl.
Wright graduated with a degree in community development and leadership in December 2021, and he is currently working on a second degree in kinesiology.
Kentucky opens the 2022 season on Saturday, September 3 against the University of Miami at Kroger Field. Game time is 7 p.m. ET on the ESPN+/SEC Network +.
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