Third in a series on departing seniors with memorable moments or careers in the SEC.
Kentucky has not been known for its dynamic offensive players since Andre Woodson left after the 2007 season. But as Woodson departed Lexington, a player who would quietly contribute to the continuation of the modern golden age in Kentucky football was beginning to take the field.
Derrick Locke was not the flashiest player; he didn't leave the SEC in total rushing yards; and of course he played largely in the relative obscurity of Kentucky. But he was still a memorable running back on a memorable run of Kentucky teams. Locke played on four bowl eligible Kentucky teams four years in a row -- a mark once thought impossible for any Wildcat, in part because Locke is part of only the second Kentucky senior class to be able to claim that.
Not that Locke has no statistical credits to his name. He averaged at least 4.7 yards a carry each year. Locke caught 30 or more balls in each of the last two seasons. In 2010, Locke was second only to Randall Cobb in all-purpose yards, with 1,608.
Locke also ranks sixth all-time in career rushing yards for Kentucky. And his 22 career touchdowns aren't exactly a shabby number -- just four short of the career record in Lexington.
But the numbers might not tell the whole story. This year, Locke ran for 100 yards in five of the nine games he played in. Kentucky lost just one of those, and lost two of the three games against FBS teams when Locke didn't play.
So Derrick Locke might not go down as one of the all-time greats in SEC history, but he will go down as one of the best athletes to have played for Kentucky. Given what he helped bring to Lexington, that's a career worth acknowledging for a moment now, even if we didn't know to watch it while it was going on.