Kentucky confirmed Monday that running back Chris Rodriguez Jr., a preseason first-team All-SEC selection, will be suspended for two more games in time for the No. 9 Wildcats game vs. No. 20 Ole Miss on Oct. 1 after sitting out the Wildcats' first two games of the season. The news provides clarity to a situation that had lingered all offseason and during game prep over the last two weeks.
Rodriguez was arrested for DUI and careless driving in May and has been dealing with another unresolved incident, according to 247Sports, the details of which have not been made public.
Rodriguez' return to the Wildcats lineup is a huge development. The Wildcats (2-0, 1-0 SEC) jumped up to No. 9 in the Florida. Rodriguez will out UK's next two games games vs. Youngstown State and Northern Illinois. Assuming the Wildcats handle the Penguins and Huskies, respectively, he'll be on the field in what could be a massive game for the massive road game vs. the Rebels that could be a ranked team-vs.-ranked team matchup.this week after an important 26-16 road win over then-No. 12
His return will also fill a hole for a problem for Mark Stoops' crew. The Wildcats currently rank 13th in the SEC in rushing yards per game at 60, just a half-yard ahead of last-place South Carolina. Kentucky had negative-37 net rushing yards in the first half vs. Florida, which is a big reason why they entered halftime with a three-point deficit. The Wildcats finished the game with just 70 net yards and averaged 1.8 yards per attempt.
Senior Kavosiey Smoke is a talented changeup back, but hasn't been able to keep defenses honest over the last two games. With Rodriguez back in action, the true power of the Kentucky offense can be unleashed which will not only help the rushing game, but take pressure off of star quarterback Will Levis.
The 5-foot-11, 224-pound senior from McDonough, Georgia, has 2,379 career rushing yards and 27 career touchdowns on the ground in four seasons at Kentucky. He rushed for 1,379 yards and averaged 106.08 yards rushing per game last season, second-most in the SEC in both categories. He was one of only two players in the conference to average more than 100 yards per game on the ground. Rodriguez is sixth all-time on Kentucky's list of career rushers, and is 1,133 yards behind Benny Snell, who is the No. 1 rusher in program history.