Braylon Heard

Nearly 30 percent of early entries weren’t selected in NFL draft

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Not surprisingly, some of the players who left eligibility on the table for an early shot at the pros were left without a chair when the draft music stopped Saturday.

By the deadline in mid-January, a total of 84 players with eligibility remaining filled out their paperwork to make themselves available for the 2015 NFL draft.  As noted by Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com, 24 of those 84 players went undrafted as the seven-round event concluded yesterday evening.

While that’s 28.6 percent, it’s actually a better rate than a year ago.  In 2014, 36.7 percent (36 of 98) of the early entrants went undrafted.  That total of 98 last year was a record number of draft-eligible players who left with eligibility remaining, which prompted the NFL to change its protocol in an attempt to roll back the number of players leaving early.

Getting back to this year, 16 of the 24 who weren’t selected came from Power Five football programs.  TCU was the only school with two early entrants who weren’t picked (running back B.J. Catalon, safety Chris Hackett), while two of the players came from non-FCS levels.

It should be noted that most if not all of the players in this group will sign as an undrafted free agent.

Below is the complete list of those who went undrafted.

SS Durell Eskridge, Syracuse
CB Jacoby Glenn, UCF
FS Chris Hackett, TCU
WR DaVaris Daniels, Notre Dame
RB Trey Williams, Texas A&M
DE Deion Barnes, Penn State
TE Jean Sifrin, Massachusetts
DT David Irving, Iowa State
WR Deontay Greenberry, Houston
DT Ellis McCarthy, UCLA
RB B.J. Catalon, TCU
WR Chris Harper, California
LB Max Flores, Northern Colorado
RB Dee Hart, Colorado State
RB Braylon Heard, Kentucky
WR George Farmer, USC
WR Nigel King, Kansas
OT Patrick Miller, Auburn
WR Zach D’Orazio, Akron
WR Tacoi Sumler, Appalachian State
OG Tyler Moore, Florida
WR Jaquel Pitts, Trinity International
LS Easton Wahlstrom, Arizona State
OLB Darien Rankin, North Carolina

Kentucky’s second-leading rusher decides to enter the NFL draft

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As the Thursday’s deadline to declare for the the 2015 NFL draft looms, the number of underclassmen that made the decision to go pro continues to grow.

Kentucky running back Braylon Heard was a surprise addition to the list. The junior finished second on the team in 2014 with 73 carries for only 368 yards.

“I appreciate the hard work Braylon gave to the Kentucky program,” head Mark Stoops said in a statement released by the school. “He has been a model student-athlete and we wish him nothing but the best.”

The decision is somewhat confusing since Heard, who originally transferred from Nebraska, finished his career with an unimpressive 150 carries for 830 yards.

To put that number into context, Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott ran for 880 yards during the final four games of the 2014 season.

Heard is expected to graduate in the spring, though, and there is no better time for him to chase his dream of becoming a professional football player.

Georgia starts strong, but Kentucky clawing back

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After losing the previous week in Jacksonville to Florida, Georgia got off on the right foot on the road this afternoon at Kentucky. Isaiah McKenzie returned the game’s opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and the Bulldogs have been off and running since. But Kentucky is not ready to pack it in just yet. Georgia leads Kentucky 35-24 at the half in Lexington.

Georgia jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, with a Hutson Mason touchdown pass to Chris Conley and a Nick Chubb touchdown run for a pair of red zone scores. Georgia’s offense has had no problems with Kentucky’s defense this afternoon, already over 300 yards of offense in the first half. The Bulldogs also went four-for-four on third down conversion attempts in the first half. Chubb has already turned in over 100 rushing yards today and Conley has scored twice. Mason has three touchdowns to go with his accurate passing in the first half.

Kentucky has shown some punch though, even if the defense cannot make a stop. Stanley Williams has rushed five times for 87 yards (boosted by a 56-yard run for a touchdown. Braylon Heard has carried the football 10 times for 29 yards and the Wildcats have picked up a pair of first downs on fourth down conversion attempts. Kentucky pushed forward for a late touchdown to make things a bit more interesting heading to the second half as well.

Georgia needs to find a way to slam the door shut on Kentucky, because the Wildcats do not appear to be a team that will curl up and roll over in this one.

Kentucky’s Stanley Williams not cleared to play against No. 1 Mississippi State

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The Kentucky Wildcats will face the No. 1 Mississippi State Bulldogs this afternoon without one of their most potent offensive weapons.

Freshman running back Stanley Williams suffered a concussion last Saturday against the LSU Tigers. He didn’t return to the game nor did he practice all week.

Williams announced on twitter that he won’t be available for today’s contest:

The 5-9, 200-pound running back was third on the team with 222 rushing yards. The talented freshman averaged 7.4 yards each time he ran the ball, though.

Williams was Kentucky’s best all-around threat. The running back already had eight catches for 90 yards this season. He is also the team’s primary kick returner and averages 30 yards per return.

With Williams out of the lineup, the Wildcats have three capable running back that already split time in the backfield. Sophomore JoJo Kemp, junior Braylon Heard and freshman Mikel Horton will continue to rotate at running back against the Bulldogs’ talented defensive front.

On special teams, sophomore cornerback J.D. Harmon is Williams’ likely replacement as the team’s top kicker returner. Harmon returned two kicks this season for 53 yards.

Anytime the No. 1 team in the country comes to town, the underdog needs all the help it can get to potentially pull off an upset. Unfortunately for Kentucky, one of the Wildcats’ most explosive players isn’t available, and they’ll have to adjust.

‘More than likely,’ UK’s leading rusher won’t play vs. Ohio

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It appears Braylon Heard won’t be able to back-up his breakout performance of a week ago, at least not immediately.

Following practice Thursday, head coach Mark Stoops reiterated that the running back will likely not play in Kentucky’s game Saturday against Ohio, although the door hasn’t been completely closed.  It’s believed Heard tweaked his ankle on the second of two long touchdown runs in the opener against Tennessee-Martin.

“Like I said yesterday, he’s questionable,” the coach said. “More than likely will not play. He tried to get out there today, run around a little bit, so we’ll see. Maybe he’ll heal up.

“I’m not trying to hold anything. It’s just the way I feel right now and the way he looks right now it’s questionable.”

With the SEC opener against Florida looming next weekend, it would make sense for the coaching staff to err on the side of caution when it comes to one of its most dynamic and explosive players on the offensive side of the ball.

In the 59-14 season-opening win over the FCS program, Heard rushed for a career-high 116 yards… on just two carries. Both of those carries also resulted in touchdowns, one from 73 yards out and the other from 43.

Heard, who transferred from Nebraska in the January of 2013 to UK two months later and sat out that season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, has not practiced at all this week.