With New Orleans Saints
26 Wildcats Have Signed NFL Contracts in Last Three Years
Ky. – It was about a year ago at this time, during 2009 spring
practice, that former University of Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks
predicted stardom for linebacker Sam Maxwell.
Having shared the strongside linebacker post with Johnny Williams in
the 2006-08 seasons, Maxwell had the spot to himself during his senior
year and definitely fulfilled Brooks’ forecast. Maxwell
turned in an outstanding season in ’09 and will have an
opportunity to play professional football after signing a free-agent
contract with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints.
Despite being relatively unknown outside of UK prior to his senior
year, Maxwell made a name for himself by earning second-team
All-Southeastern Conference honors during his final season. He
started all 12 regular-season games, totaling 80 tackles, 5.5 tackles
for loss, 1.5 quarterback sacks and caused two fumbles.
Most important were Maxwell’s six interceptions, most ever in one
season by a Wildcat linebacker, along with seven pass breakups.
He tied for the SEC lead for interceptions per game and was sixth in
the league in total passes defended per game, remarkable feats for a
Maxwell got his breakout season started early. He nabbed an
interception late in the 31-27 win over Louisville and knocked down a
pass on the final play of the game to preserve the win over the
Cardinals. He had a then-career best 10 tackles in the upset win
at Auburn, UK’s first victory vs. the Tigers in 43 years.
Maxwell came up big in UK’s upset win at Georgia. He
totaled a career-best 11 tackles, including one for loss, and made the
game-clinching interception with 1:45 remaining in the game, which was
the Wildcats’ first victory in Athens in 32 years. He was
named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for that performance.
Maxwell finished his season against Tennessee with seven tackles and a
56-yard interception return for a touchdown. He had to miss
UK’s appearance in the Music City Bowl because of a shoulder
Maxwell was part of the first senior class in school history to go to
four-consecutive bowl games, three of which were Wildcat wins.
A total of 26 Wildcats from the 2007-09 senior classes have been
drafted or signed NFL free-agent contracts during the last three years.