With Chris Rodriguez’s status uncertain, Kentucky adds a potential replacement

·3 min read

If Chris Rodriguez is unavailable in 2022, Kentucky football took out an impressive insurance policy Tuesday night with the addition of FCS All-America running back Ramon Jefferson as a graduate transfer.

The 5-foot-10, 215-pound Jefferson rushed for 1,155 yards on 173 carries, averaging 6.7 yards per attempt for FCS powerhouse Sam Houston State last season. He rushed for 13 touchdowns and had a long run of 70 yards for the Bearkats. That production earned Jefferson a second-team FCS All-America selection by The Associated Press.

In 2020, his first year at the Huntsville, Texas, school, Jefferson rushed for 752 yards on 126 attempts, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. He rushed for seven touchdowns and had a long run of 59 yards.

“We are excited to have Ramon join our Wildcat family,” UK Coach Mark Stoops said in a release Tuesday night. “He is an excellent tailback, providing another quality player for us at that position. He was one of the top rushers in the FCS last season and he is a good fit for our scheme. He’s tough, physical and durable and we are looking forward to developing him even further under our coaching staff.”

According to its updated roster released this week, Kentucky has also added 6-foot-5, 230-pound running back Dee Beckwith, a former four-star prospect who played his first two seasons at Tennessee. A Florence, Ala., native, Beckwith began his college career at wide receiver before being moved to running back. He carried the football four times for 27 yards in his UT career.

Jefferson helped the Bearkats to a 21-1 record in his two seasons with the Huntsville, Texas school. K.C. Keeler’s team defeated South Dakota State 23-21 for the 2020-21 FCS national championship with Jefferson rushing for 96 yards on 16 carries. Sam Houston lost to Montana State in the FCS quarterfinals last season.

A Bronx, New York, native, Jefferson originally committed to Colorado as a graduate transfer in January but de-committed in May. He began his college career at Maine but left school after a domestic violence charge and transferred to Garden City Community College. Jefferson pleaded guilty to a criminal mischief charge.

Transfer Ramon Jefferson, who signed with Kentucky on Tuesday, rushed for 1,155 yards on 173 carries, averaging 6.7 yards per attempt for FCS powerhouse Sam Houston State last season.
Transfer Ramon Jefferson, who signed with Kentucky on Tuesday, rushed for 1,155 yards on 173 carries, averaging 6.7 yards per attempt for FCS powerhouse Sam Houston State last season.
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops described transfer running back Ramon Jefferson as “a good fit for our scheme.”
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops described transfer running back Ramon Jefferson as “a good fit for our scheme.”

Jefferson’s addition adds more intrigue to the playing status of Rodriguez, who was arrested May 8 on charges of careless driving and operating a motor vehicle under the influence. Rodriguez is scheduled for a pretrial conference on July 5.

A key part of the Kentucky offense the last three seasons, Rodriguez rushed for 1,379 yards last season as the Cats finished 10-3. The Georgia native rushed for 100-or-more yards in nine of UK’s 13 games, including the final five. He rushed for 107 yards on 20 carries in the Cats’ 20-17 win over Iowa in the Citrus Bowl.

Rodriguez was a first-team All-SEC selection for 2022 in the Birmingham News annual summer poll of the league’s sports information directors.

Should Rodriguez be unavailable for part or all of the upcoming season, Kentucky has veteran running backs Kavosiey Smoke, Jutahn McClain and Michael Drennen returning, as well as promising sophomore La’Vell Wright.

Adding Jefferson to the mix gives Stoops and new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello another talented option.

Never mind the skill stars, Kentucky football’s 2022 fate will be decided up front

Where did Kentucky rank in annual football poll of SEC sports information directors?

Who should be the ‘Kentucky Wildcats Coach of the Year’ for 2021-22?

Could UK’s Will Levis win the Heisman Trophy? A sportsbook sets the odds.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting