Two former Cats greats hold surprising stat supremacy

Published 1:00 pm Friday, September 8, 2023

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Since 2001, only two Kentucky players have had 10 or more sacks in one season. Dennis Johnson had 12 in 2001, and National Defensive Player of the Year Josh Allen had 17 in 2018.

“I didn’t know that. I have never even thought about it,” Johnson, now the head football coach at Woodford County High School, said. “I knew Josh broke the (single-season) record, but I thought some other guys since then had 10 or more sacks. That is a really good stat, and it is very surprising. I never knew that.”

The only other two players with 10 or more sacks in a single season since 1971 were Chris Ward with 10.5 in 1996 and Dean Wells with 10 in 1992. Jeremy Jarmon (1997) and Oliver Barnett (1988) got close with nine.

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“We have had a lot of good players come through UK. Maybe they did not get 10 sacks but hopefully the next one is coming. That really is a shocking stat not to have had more players with 10 sacks in a season,” Johnson said.

“It’s hard to get a sack. People think if you can do this or that you can get a sack. But to get a sack, especially in the SEC, is super duper hard. I never really thought about how hard it is to get a sack or multiple sacks in a game. I guess it was just in my DNA and my dad ingrained in us to rush the passer and that was my job.”

Still, the former all-SEC defensive lineman, who ranks fourth on UK’s all-time sacks list with 19, calls it “crazy” that only he and Allen have 10 or more sacks in the last 20-plus years or just four in the last 50 years.

“I am not one to talk about things like that, but I guess that is a good stat to remember and know,” he said.