Two-year starter at wide receiver ... Also has handled punt return and kickoff return duties for two years ... Holds five NCAA records, nine SEC records, and 10 school records for kick returns ... Has returned seven kicks for touchdowns during his career (five punts, two kickoffs), just one shy of the NCAA career record for total kick return TDs ... Has good speed and hands, with excellent acceleration when he finds a hole ... Tough, resilient player, despite his relatively small frame ... Will enter his senior season ranking third in school history in pass receptions (146) and receiving yardage (1,723 yards) ... Wears uniform No. 12 in honor of his childhood best friend, Ezra Hartinger, who died when they were in seventh grade ... Fine student who will be going into his final year of a five-year academic program that will enable him to earn his bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's in business administration ... Has been selected as a member of the prestigious UK Athletics "Society of Character" ... Has played in 34 games, starting 24.
2002 (Junior): Tremendous season was capped by consensus first-team All-America honors as a kick returner (see list above) ... Set five NCAA records, nine SEC records, and 10 school records for kick returns (see complete list of records below) ... Returned six kicks for touchdowns, four punts and two kickoffs, more than any player in one season in NCAA history ... Only player in the nation's top 11 in punt returns, kickoff returns, and all-purpose yardage ... Led the SEC in punt returns and kickoff returns ... Averaged 15.1 yards on punt returns, returning touchdowns at Florida (49 yards), at Arkansas (career-long 86 yards), and two at Mississippi State (69 and 52 yards)... Averaged 26.8 yards on kickoff returns, with TD runbacks at Florida (SEC record 100 yards) and vs. Vanderbilt (95) ... Consensus first-team All-SEC honoree ... Named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week three times, for the Florida, Arkansas, and Mississippi State games ... One of just a handful of players in NCAA history who have returned a punt and kickoff for a touchdown in the same game when he did it in "The Swamp" at Florida ... Also scored a TD on a pass reception against the Gators, and is believed to be the only player in NCAA history to score via a punt return, kickoff return, and pass reception in the same game (complete information not available from the NCAA) ... Also turned in another quality season as a wide receiver with 40 catches for 569 yards and four touchdowns ... Had season highs of five catches vs. LSU and 99 receiving yards vs. Georgia ... Had a career-long 68-yard TD reception against Texas-El Paso.
2001: His versatile performance earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors by The Associated Press as an all-purpose player ... Started all 11 games at the "X" receiver ... Had 66 catches for 741 yards and six touchdowns, leading the team in all three categories ... Also led the team in scoring with 42 points ... Ranked third in the SEC in pass receptions ... Handled punt returns and averaged 9.6 yards ... His first punt return of the season was a 47-yard touchdown against Louisville ... Followed with an 83-yard TD return vs. Ball State, only to have it called back by penalty ... Averaged 22.4 yards on kickoff returns ... His versatility helped him rank second in the SEC and 11th nationally with 153.8 all-purpose yards per game ... His 1,692 all-purpose yards was the third-highest single-season total in school history ... Had consecutive 100-yard receiving games against Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee ... It was the first time in school history that a player had three consecutive 100-yard receiving games ... Had 12 catches for 123 yards, both career highs, at Mississippi State ... Had a career-best 244 all-purpose yards at Vanderbilt ... Hauled in seven catches for 113 yards and two TDs against the Commodores, including a 52-yard TD that is the longest of his career ... Snagged 10 balls for 118 yards and a TD vs. Tennessee ... Earned a place on the SEC Academic Honor Roll.
2000 (Redshirt Freshman): Shared the "X" receiver position with Quentin McCord, playing in all 11 games ... Started at Tennessee ... Chosen for the Freshman All-SEC Team by SEC Coaches and the Knoxville News-Sentinel ... Had 40 catches for 413 yards and three TDs ... Best game came against South Florida with five catches for 62 yards and two TDs ... Caught a short pass at Ole Miss and turned it into a 50-yard touchdown, his longest play of the season.
1999 (Freshman): Sustained a pulled hamstring muscle in August ... Redshirted.
High School: All-America wide receiver by the Gatorade Circle of Champions and PrepStar magazine ... The Wisconsin Player of the Year as chosen by Gatorade and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ... First-team all-state receiver for two years at Everest HS in Schofield, Wisc., and was second-team all-state as a sophomore ... Helped lead Everest to a 14-0 record and Division I (largest classification) state championship as a senior ... Caught 62 passes for 1,309 yards and 14 touchdowns ... Set state record for longest TD reception in a state championship game with a 67-yard scoring catch ... Team went to the state semifinals his junior year, was state runner-up as a sophomore, and compiled a conference win streak of 35 games ... Career totals include 132 receptions for 2,987 yards, an average of 22.6 yards per catch, and 31 touchdowns ... A breakaway kick returner who scored a state-record 17 touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns during his career ... Three-year starter at wide receiver who also saw playing time at running back and defensive back ... Career rushing totals feature 787 yards on 66 carries, averaging 11.9 yards per attempt, and nine touchdowns ... Chosen for the Win Brockmeyer Scholarship Award as the outstanding senior player in his area ... One of the top 100 prospects in the six-state Midwest area by SuperPrep ... Coached by Wayne Steffenhagen ... A four-year letterman in track ... Ran the sprint events, relays, and the long jump ... Placed in the top eight in four events in the state track meet as a junior ... Chosen first-team all-state in track for three years by the Wisconsin Track Coaches Association ... Best time of 10.78 seconds in the 100-meter dash ... Chosen a Wisconsin All-State Scholar-Athlete, an honor bestowed on only 32 students, covering all-sports, from among more than 500 applicants ... Member of the National Honor Society ... Took first-place honors three years in the solo and ensemble state music competition ... Participates in a weekly mentoring program for second graders and another program for working with at-risk children ... Sportswriter Jay Lillge of the Wausau Daily Herald wrote of Abney, "In 23-plus years of trudging the sidelines, infields, and hardwoods, I've never met a more genuine, polite, personable, articulate young man." ... Picked Kentucky over Ohio State, Northwestern, and Purdue.
Personal: Full name is Derek Allen Abney ... Born 12-19-80 in Minot, N.D. ... Son of Larry and Sylvia Abney ... Has Kentucky ties with a grandmother and sister living in Frankfort and other relatives residing in the Commonwealth ... Major is civil engineering.
The Cats' Cause: Guest speaker at several area schools during his career.
Abney Career Stats Year G-GS Rec. Yds. Avg. TD Long 2000 11-1 40 413 10.3 3 50 2001 11-11 66 741 11.2 6 52 2002 12-12 40 569 14.2 4 68 Totals 34-24 146 1,723 11.8 13 68
Abney's List of Records Broken or Tied During the 2002 Season
NCAA Records (5)
SEC Records (9)
Kentucky Records (10)