LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and senior linebacker Josh Allen were named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively, by the league’s coaches, it was announced Wednesday. The duo also earned those honors from the Associated Press, making it a clean sweep for the Wildcats.
Stoops becomes the first UK coach to earn Coach of the Year honors since Jerry Claiborne in 1983. The Wildcats won nine regular-season games for the first time in 41 years, including six over bowl-eligible teams and four over squads that won eight or more. UK’s 5-3 mark in SEC play also was the team’s first winning league record since 1977. The Cats won at Florida, ending a three-decade-old dry spell against the Gators, and the recorded the most-lopsided win in the history of the Governor’s Cup series against Louisville.
Allen, a senior from Montclair, New Jersey, has been a pass rush terror so far this season. With 28.5 career sacks and 14 sacks in 2018, he now holds UK’s career and single-season records. His 11 career forced fumbles tie former Wildcat and current Chicago Bear linebacker Danny Trevathan for UK’s career mark (forced fumbles stats available since 1988). He leads the team with 84 tackles and paces the SEC in sacks, tackles for loss (18.5) and forced fumbles (5). Twelve of his 14 sacks have come in the second half of games, including eight in the fourth quarter. In five of UK’s nine wins this season, Allen had a sack late in the fourth quarter that was crucial to the Wildcat victory.
In addition to his first-team All-SEC accolades, Allen received the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Monday, signifying the National Defensive Player of the Year. He also is a finalist for the Walter Camp National Player of the Year, the Butkus Award (nation’s best linebacker), the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year), the Lott IMPACT Trophy (defensive player of the year) and Ted Hendricks Award (defensive end of the year).