Four Downs: Kentucky's Best 'True' Freshmen

Kentucky expects to play as many as nine “true” freshmen on Saturday as the Wildcats open the season against Louisiana-Lafayette. Among them, tight end C.J. Conrad and offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei are slated to be in the starting lineup. In this edition of “Four Downs,” ranks the four best true-freshman seasons in the last 25 years of UK football.

1. MOE WILLIAMS (1993):

The Columbus (Ga.) Spencer standout was one of the nation’s most heavily-recruited players in his class, making huge headlines when he opted to return to his native Kentucky to play college football for Bill Curry. Williams did not disappoint. He rushed for 928 yards on only 164 carries, averaging 5.7 yards per carry in leading the Cats to the Peach Bowl, their first postseason game in nine years. Along the way, he had four 100-yard games, including a UK freshman record 159-yard effort against Georgia. He also had a 70-yard touchdown run against nationally-ranked Florida (the second-longest run in the SEC that season). Football News named him a second-team freshman All-American. He led the Cats in rushing three consecutive years and still ranks No. 2 on the UK all-time rushing list with 3,333 yards and 26 touchdowns. Williams enjoyed a nine-year professional career with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens.



Few players have ever arrived in Lexington straight out of the high school ranks more physically ready to compete in the rugged SEC trenches than Robertson. The Memphis (Tenn.) Melrose standout was overshadowed in the recruiting process by fellow Memphis native Albert Means (whose recruitment subsequently got both UK and Alabama placed on probation) but wound up having a far better college career. Kentucky coach Guy Morriss used to love testing his O-Linemen against “D-Rob” in daily practice one-on-one drills. He knew if his guys could block Robertson, they could match up with anyone in the league. As a freshman, Robertson started all 11 games, posting 40 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception. He wound up being the fourth overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, playing five years in the Big Apple and one year in Denver before retiring.


3. RANDALL COBB (2008):

The fact that Cobb wound up at UK still baffles the mind. Currently one of the better wide receivers in the NFL playing for the Green Bay Packers, Cobb grew up in Alcoa, Tenn., which was basically the University of Tennessee’s backyard. The Volunteers dragged their feet throughout his recruitment, and by the time they finally offered, Cobb, the state’s AA “Mr. Football,” said “Thanks but no thanks.” Cobb came to the Cats as a dual-threat quarterback. He even played the position several times during his freshman year before later moving to receiver on a permanent basis. Cobb did a little bit of everything that first season with UK, passing for 542 yards and two touchdowns, rushing for 316 yards and seven touchdowns, catching 21 passes for 197 yards and two scores, and recording 92 yards on 11 punt returns. In November, he gained notoriety as being the only player in the country who had lined up as his team’s starting quarterback and punt returner.



Part of the famed “LaGrange Pipeline,” Woodyard wasted no time in establishing himself as a difference-maker on the field and in the locker room. He began his UK career as a safety, but moved to linebacker midway through the season and never relinquished the starting job the rest of his career. Woodyard tallied 34 tackles and one tackle for a loss that first season, but perhaps even more impressively, he was named a game captain on two occasions, a rare honor for a freshman and an early indication of the type of leader he would become. By the end of his UK career, he helped lead the Cats to back to back bowl victories over Clemson and Florida State. Woodyard led the team in tackles three consecutive years (2005-07), joining Marty Moore as the only players to accomplish that at UK, and currently ranks seventh in program history with 395 stops. He is currently entering his seventh season in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans.

Did we overlook anyone? Have a good pick that predates our list? Join in the discussion with other Big Blue fans and offer your choices on our AW Football Forum.

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