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Three Wildcats Named Preseason Coaches All-SEC

Photo: UK Athletics

Kentucky’s Eli Cox, Deone Walker and J.J. Weaver were named to the Preseason All-Southeastern Conference Football Team by the league’s coaches, it was announced Tuesday.  Walker and Weaver were named second-team defense, while Cox was named to the third-team offense.

Cox, a native of Nicholasville, Kentucky, is a key cog on the Big Blue Wall after seeing action in 30 career games with 22 starting assignments. Last season, he moved to center and started in all 13 games, earning a spot on the Outland Trophy Watch List and the Comeback Player of the Year Award Watch List. In 2021, he saw action in nine games before a hand injury which required surgery sidelined him.

Cox will move back to his natural position at right guard in 2023.

Cox graduated in May of 2022 with a degree in integrated strategic communication with a business minor and is currently working on a second degree in media arts studies. He also is one of three representatives for UK football on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for the second straight year.  Additionally, he was elected to the SEC Football Leadership Council for the second straight season, including being elected chair of the Leadership Council for 2023.

Earlier this year, he was also named to the Preseason SEC Media Days Third-Team Offense.

Walker, a 6-foot-6, 330-pound defensive lineman from Detroit, played in all 13 games with 11 starting assignments in his rookie season in 2022. Because of his size and physicality, he was an absolute force on the defensive line, finishing with 40 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss (third on the team), five quarterback hurries (second on the team), two pass breakups, one sack and one forced fumble.

He earned Freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America, The Athletic, College Football News,, and Pro Football Focus.  Additionally, he was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team, was named second-team All-SEC by the Associated Press, Pro Football Focus and Phil Steele’s College Football and was a semifinalist for the Shaun Alexander Freshman of the Year Award.

He is currently on the watch lists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, the Bronko Nagurski Award and the Outland Trophy and was also on the Preseason SEC Media Days Second-Team Defense.

Weaver, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, is a veteran leader at outside linebacker for Wildcats’ defense this season. After considering entry into the 2022 NFL Draft, Weaver decided to return to Kentucky and build off a solid junior year that saw him play in 11 games with eight starting assignments. He totaled 47 tackles, 6.0 tackles for loss, a team-high 3.0 sacks, three quarterback hurries, a team-high three fumble recoveries, a team-high tying two forced fumbles and a blocked kick in 2022.

Weaver, a third-team defensive selection on the Preseason SEC Media Days Team, is currently on the watch list for the Chuck Bednarik Award.

He is on track to graduate this December with a degree in community leadership and development.

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