LEXINGTON — Lynn Bowden is ready for the next phase of his football career and declared for the NFL Draft on Monday.
"This is a moment I've dreamed of for a long time, but there's no way I could have gotten here without a lot of people," he said. "To my mom and my family, thank you for raising me. To my son, thank for your inspiring me. To coach (Mark) Stoops and coach (Vince) Marrow, you believe in me, you believed in the person I could become. Coach (Eddie) Gran, coach Daron Hinshaw and coach Smith and all of my coaches, you challenged me, made me better, and put me in a position to succeed.
"My strength coaches and trainers were there every step of the way. To the Big Blue Wall, I can't say enough about you. The best O-Line in America. I couldn't ask for a better set of teammates. You guys are my brothers."
He made the announcement video via Twitter and his teammates are supportive of his decision.
"Lynn Bowden, first and foremost, is just a tremendous person and a tremendous athlete," Kentucky senior Jordan Griffin said. "He's a firecracker, he's very explosive. I'm glad that he's on my end, he's on my side. That's my brother, and I'm very happy for him and his future of course."
Earlier Monday, Bowden was named to The Associated Press first-team All-Southeastern Conference team. Bowden's teammates Max Duffy (punter), Drake Jackson (center) and Logan Stenberg (offensive line) also were named to the first team.
Bowden is a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award and was named the top all-purpose performer in the league after averaging 153 yards per game. Bowden rushed for 1,235 yards after taking over as the team's quarterback. He led the Wildcats to five victories in the past seven games as they amassed more than 400 yards rushing in the final three games. Kentucky closed out the regular-season with wins over Vanderbilt, Tennessee Martin and Louisville.
"There were a lot of injuries, a lot of things to overcome. And this team did a remarkable job of staying together, working hard together, changing the way they play, the personality of who they were, and found a way to get to a really remarkable spot in winning five of our last seven games to close the regular season," Kentucky Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart said. "So I don't want to forget about that."
Barnhart pointed out Bowden's desire to lead the team at quarterback after the top two players on the depth chart went down with injuries during the season.
"You talk about sacrificial, a lot of people gave up what they do for the good of the team to go be better," Barnhart said. "And we hear that talked about an awful lot, but very seldom do you see it played out in real time like our team did. Folks gave up positions, folks gave up reps, folks gave up opportunities that may have been best for them to collectively get to a better spot and go be something really valuable as a team. And then go through some tough, a couple of tough losses. Ones that you sort of wish you had. And you still find your way to 7-5 and get to a bowl game."
Bowden also had a team-high 348 yards receiving and is averaging 8.2 yards per rush and is on pace to shatter the school record going into the Belk Bowl against Virginia Tech. The team's postseason contest is set for noon on New Year's Eve in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Bowden concluded his special message by urging fans to support the Wildcats in the Belk Bowl.
"For my last game in Kentucky blue, I need all the BBN to come out and support us and help us get this bowl game win. Come see about it in Charlotte," he said.
Belk Bowl: Kentucky vs. Virginia Tech, Dec. 31, noon. TV: SEC Network