LEXINGTON, Ky. --- For only the fourth time in the history of the team, three Kentucky players have been named first-team All-Southeastern Conference by the Associated Press.
Wide receiver Derek Abney, defensive end Dennis Johnson and punter Glenn Pakulak were named to the first team. A fourth Wildcat, tight end Derek Smith, was named as an honorable mention.
It marks the first time since 1998 that UK has had that many selections. Tim Couch, Craig Yeast and Kris Comstock all made the first team that year. Prior to that, the Cats placed five players in 1977 (Tom Dornbrook, Derrick Ramsey, Art Still, Mike Siganos and Dallas Owens) and four players in 1951 (Doug Moseley, Steve Meilinger, Babe Parilli and Gene Donaldson).
Abney, a sophomore from Mosinee, Wisc., was selected as an all-purpose player thanks in large part to his dynamic kickoff and punt returns this season. He was second in the SEC and 12th nationally in all-purpose yardage at 153.8 yards per game. He caught a team-high 66 passes for 741 yards and six touchdowns. His receiving yards ranked third in the league and 24th in the nation.
A dangerous return man, Abney averaged 9.6 yards on punt returns and 22.4 yards on kickoff returns. He returned one punt for a touchdown and had another negated by penalty.
Johnson, a junior from Harrodsburg, Ky., had his breakout season. The former prep defensive player of the year, Johnson led the SEC in sacks (12), tackles for loss (19) and forced fumbles (5). His 12 sacks set a new UK record, and he finished with 61 total tackles this season.
He had at least one sack in nine of Kentucky's 11 games, and had at least three negated by a defensive penalty. His best statistical performances of the season came against Ole Miss (6 tackles, 3 TFL), Mississippi State (6 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks) and Vanderbilt (5 tackles, 3 1/2 TFL and 2 sacks).
Johnson was named a third-team All-America by Football News magazine last week.
Pakulak, a junior from Lapeer, Mich., averaged 44.5 yards per punt, the second-best mark in school history to Paul Calhoun's 44.6 mark in 1984. That figure also ranked fifth nationally. He had a season-long effort of 69 yards.
Smith, a junior from Silver Grove, Ky., was a first-team selection last season. Although his production dropped in Kentucky's new offensive system, he still managed to lead the SEC's tight ends in receiving with 30 catches for 396 yards and four touchdowns.
Florida ruled the 69th annual AP team with nine selections, claiming eight spots on the first team and sweeping the top individual awards.
Gator quarterback Rex Grossman was named offensive player of the year, while end Alex Brown was named defensive player of the year despite numbers which paled in comparison to that of Kentucky's Johnson at the same position.
Houston Nutt of Arkansas was named coach of the year after rebounding from an 0-3 start to lead the Razorbacks --- picked last in the SEC West --- to bowl eligibility at 7-4.
Grossman, who passed for 3,896 yards and 34 touchdowns, has a chance to be the first sophomore in history to win the Heisman Trophy. Brown, a senior, led a Gator defense that gave up the fewest points (14.1) and yards (290.2) in the SEC. He ranked third in the league with nine sacks. They were joined on the All-SEC team by teammates Jabar Gaffney (WR), Lito Sheppard (CB), Todd Johnson (S), Andra Davis (LB), Mike Pearson (T) and Jeff Chandler (K).
Eastern Division champ Tennessee placed running back Travis Stephens (1,427 yards rushing), guard Fred Weary and defensive tackle John Henderson on the first team.
Western Division champ LSU was represented by receiver Josh Reed, running back LeBrandon Toefield and linebacker Trev Faulk. Reed led the conference in receptions (90), yards (1,680) and all-purpose yards (1,800). Toefield tied an SEC record with 19 rushing touchdowns.
Georgia placed Tim Wansley (CB), Jon Stinchcomb (T) and Randy McMichael (TE) on the first team.
The rest of the first team included linebacker Jermaine Petty and safety Ken Hamlin of Arkansas; defensive end Jarret Johnson and center Alonzo Ephraim of Alabama; offensive tackle Kendall Simmons of Auburn; offensive tackle Terrence Metcalf of Mississippi; linebacker Kalimba Edwards of South Carolina and safety Pig Prather of Mississippi State.
WR-Jabar Gaffney, 6-1, 202, So., Florida (u)
WR-Josh Reed, 5-11, 205, Jr., LSU (u)
L-Mike Pearson, 6-7, 292, Jr., Florida
L-Kendall Simmons, 6-3, 314, Sr., Auburn
L-Terrence Metcalf, 6-4, 315, Sr., Mississippi
L-Fred Weary, 6-4, 301, Sr., Tennessee
L-Jon Stinchcomb, 6-6, 278, Jr., Georgia
C-Alonzo Ephraim, 6-4, 292, Jr., Alabama
TE-Randy McMichael, 6-4, 228, Jr., Georgia
QB-Rex Grossman, 6-1, 218., So., Florida (u)
RB-LaBrandon Toefield, 6-0, 224, So., LSU (u)
RB-Travis Stephens, 5-9, 190, Sr., Tennessee (u)
PK-Jeff Chandler, 6-2, 215, Sr., Florida
All-Purpose-Derek Abney, 5-10, 180, So., Kentucky
E-Alex Brown, 6-3, 264, Sr., Florida
E-Dennis Johnson, 6-7, 261, Jr., Kentucky
T-John Henderson, 6-7, 290, Sr., Tennessee
T-Jarret Johnson, 6-4, 274, Jr., Alabama
LB-Jermaine Petty, 6-2, 257, Sr., Arkansas
LB-Trev Faulk, 6-3, 225, Jr., LSU
LB-Kalimba Edwards, 6-6, 262, Sr., South Carolina
LB-Andra Davis, 6-1, 254, Sr., Florida
CB-Lito Sheppard, 5-10, 189, So., Florida
CB-Tim Wansley, 5-9, 172, Sr., Georgia
S-Pig Prather, 6-2, 186, Sr., Mississippi State
S-Todd Johnson, 6-1, 194, Jr., Florida
S-Ken Hamlin, 6-2, 193, So., Arkansas
P-Glenn Pakulak, 6-2, 228, Jr., Kentucky
WR-Reche Caldwell, 6-0, 198, Jr., Florida
WR-Dan Stricker, 6-3, 201, Jr., Vanderbilt
L-Melvin Paige, 6-5, 300, Sr., South Carolina
L-Zac Zedalis, 6-3, 280, St., Florida
L-Shawn Andrews, 6-6, 330, Fr., Arkansas
L-Kenny Sandlin, 6-3, 319, Sr., Alabama
C-Ben Claxton, 6-3, 288, Jr., Mississippi
C-Curt McGill, 6-4, 274, Sr., Georgia
TE-Robert Royal, 6-5, 231, Sr., LSU
TE-Doug Zeigler, 6-41/2, 254, Jr., Mississippi
QB-Rohan Davey, 6-3, 235, Sr., LSU