LEXINGTON – Three senior Kentucky football players, T.J. Carter, Calvin Taylor Jr., and Ahmad Wagner, have signed free agent contracts and will vie for a spot on an NFL roster when practice resumes.
Carter, a native of Mableton, Georgia, has signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The 6-foot-4, 287-pound defensive end played in 50 career games with 28 starts from 2016-19. He totaled 71 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, five pass breakups and 10 quarterback hurries in his career.
As a senior, he had a season-best 26 tackles to go along with 6.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. One of Carter’s teammates in Arizona is another Wildcat and defensive lineman, Corey Peters.
Off the field, Carter is set to graduate next week with a degree in information communication technology and a minor in criminology.
Taylor, of Augusta, Georgia, has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he will be awaited by former Wildcats Bud Dupree and Benny Snell Jr. Taylor, a 6-9, 311-pound defensive tackle played in 40 career games, earning a starting spot in his final 22 appearances.
He totaled 85 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, five pass breakups, three quarterback hurries, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in his career.
As a senior, he earned third-team All-Southeastern Conference honors after finishing with 8.5 sacks, ranking seventh in single-season school history. He also added 9.5 tackles for loss to go along with four pass breakups, three forced fumbles and two quarterback hurries. He was tied for sixth on the team with 36 overall tackles, including 21 solo.
Taylor graduated in May of 2019 with a degree in agricultural economics.
Carter and Taylor were part of a senior class who won 32 games over the last four seasons, the most wins for UK in a four-year span since 1949-52, when Paul “Bear” Bryant coached the Cats.
They helped UK advance to four consecutive bowl appearances and back-to-back bowl wins for the first time since the 2007 Music City Bowl and 2009 Liberty Bowl (2008 season).
Senior Ahmad Wagner of Huber Heights, Ohio has signed a free agent contract with the Chicago Bears. In two seasons with the Wildcats, Wagner, a 6-5, 245-pound wide receiver, played in 23 games with 11 starting assignments. He totaled 15 catches for 254 yards (16.9 yards per catch average) and two touchdowns, all coming in 2019.
With his 6-foot-5 frame and dynamic play-making ability, Wagner was a target 42 times in his career, 12 of which drew a pass interference call. He was nicknamed Ahmad “Flag”ner because of his ability to draw the penalty on opposing defensive backs.
Wagner had 12 receptions in the first five games of the ‘19 season. However, injuries to Kentucky quarterbacks forced the Wildcats to move wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. to QB for the final eight games, using an offense extremely tilted to the running game.
Despite a lack of pass catching opportunity, Wagner never waned in his dedication to the team, as his tenacious blocking helped UK to school records in rushing yardage, yards per attempt and rushing touchdowns.
Prior to transferring to Kentucky, Wagner played basketball at Iowa (2015-18). During his three seasons, he averaged 3.1 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, and shot at a 50 percent clip or better each year.
Off the field, Wagner is also set to graduate next week with a degree in communication.