Abney making name for himself on punt returns

Kentucky's Derek Abney leads the SEC in punt return average and ranks No. 2 in the nation...

LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Kentucky's Derek Abney is making a name for himself returning punts this season.

Derek Abney (12)

Abney, a sophomore receiver from Monisee, Wisc., ranks first in the Southeastern Conference and second nationally in punt return average through the Cats' first three games. He's averaging 27.7 yards per return, nearly twice that of the No. 2 man in the SEC, Auburn's Joe Walkins, and has the league's lone touchdown return.

His 47-yard return against Louisville accounted for the Cats' lone touchdown on the day and marked UK's first since the 1999 season. He followed that up with a 62-yard touchdown return against Ball State, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty.

"I think he's surprised us all," Kentucky coach Guy Morriss said of Abney's return prowess. "We knew he's a good athlete with good speed and all that kind of stuff, but he's got more wiggle than we thought he did. He's got a real feel for it.... using your athleticism and having a feel to make that first guy miss.

"And a lot of the credit goes to (special teams coach) Mark Nelson for designing a return so that he can break lose. He can't do it all by himself, obviously."

Abney has also emerged as the Cats' top receiver this season with 12 receptions for 148 yards and one touchdown. He had five catches for 54 yards on Saturday against No. 2 Florida.


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