He’d be honored

By Steve LeMaster

The future of University of Kentucky football looks bright. At least the post-season accolades would indicate that it looks that way.

Kentucky junior safety Muhammad Abdullah and freshman nose tackle Ricky Abren have received All-America awards from

Abdullah was named second-team Junior All-America for players in the nation’s junior class and Abren was named third-team Freshman All-America.

Abdullah, a Folkston, Ga. native, started at free safety during the first eight games of the season, then moved to strong safety for the final three games. He ranked third in the Southeastern Conference in turnovers created with five, including three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. He picked off passes against Florida, South Carolina, and Mississippi State while recovering fumbles against Georgia and Ohio.

Abdullah was named UK’s Most Valuable Player for 2004 in a vote by the Wildcat players. He finished the season with 58 tackles, second on the team in that category.

He had a season-high 10 stops in the win over Vanderbilt, including a pair of quarterback sacks.

Additional honors for Abdullah the last two seasons include second-team All-SEC in 2003 by SEC Coaches; second-team All-SEC in 2004 by The Associated Press and SEC Coaches; and second-team Sophomore All-America laurels in 2003 by

Abren, a redshirt freshman from Hopkinsville, played in all 11 games in 2004 and earned seven starting assignments. He collected 26 tackles, led the team in quarterback hurries with five and tied for the team lead in fumbles caused with two. His top game came vs. Ohio when he had six tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks. He tallied his first collegiate touchdown in the Tennessee game when he caught a tipped pass and returned it for a score.

Abren also was named second-team Freshman All-America by and Freshman All-SEC by The Sporting News.

Also in UK football news this week, Gerad Parker, a Kentucky wide receiver the last five seasons, will stay with the UK football team as a graduate assistant coach, Coach Rich Brooks has announced. Parker will work with the Wildcat defensive staff and help Steve Brown coach the defensive backs.

“It’s great to have a young man like Gerad joining our staff,” Brooks said. “He was voted Most Inspirational Player by his teammates (following the 2004 season), so he has the respect of the players. His experience in the passing game will help him in assisting Coach Brown with the secondary. Adding another former Kentucky player to our staff will make us stronger.”

Parker played for UK from 2000-04. He had his best season as a senior when he caught 15 passes for 168 yards. A member of the Southeastern Conference Academic

Honor Roll, he has completed his bachelor’s degree in secondary education and is working on a master’s in teaching.

“I’m excited about the chance to continue helping Kentucky football get to where we want it to be,” Parker said. “This is really special—growing up watching Kentucky football, playing here, and now getting to coach here.”

Parker, a Louisa native, finished his career at Lawrence County High School as the state’s all-time leader in pass receptions and receiving yardage. He remains first in state history in receiving yards and is second all-time in receptions. n