Kentucky’s Carrington Valentine declares for NFL Draft, will not play in Music City Bowl


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats defensive back Carrington Valentine (14) makes a tackle during the No. 7 Kentucky vs. No. 14 Ole Miss football game on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, at Vaught Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. Ole Miss won 22-19. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Samantha Money, Assistant Sports Editor

Kentucky cornerback Carrington Valentine declared for the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday, also announcing his decision to forgo the 2022 Music City Bowl as well.

The junior from Cincinnati, Ohio, is the third Wildcat to officially declare for the draft, along with quarterback Will Levis and running back Chris Rodriguez Jr., both of whom also announced they would not challenge Iowa in the Music City Bowl.

“I wish all of my teammates the best of luck in the Music City Bowl,” Valentine said in his announcement on his social media pages. “We have forged some of the most memorable moments together. I will truly miss each and every one of you.”

Valentine was a three-star recruit from the Class of 2020, finishing his career at Kentucky with 118 total tackles, 87 of which were unassisted, 16 pass breakups, three tackles for loss, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.

“I truly believe that I have accomplished all there is to accomplish at the collegiate level,” Valentine said in his announcement.

Valentine was not listed as a top-10 cornerback according to Mel Kiper’s most recent NFL Draft rankings, though he was included in the “just missed” section of the rankings.

Valentines’ departure also means Kentucky will be searching for two new cornerbacks for the 2023 season, with fellow starting cornerback, Ole Miss transfer Keidron Smith, having exhausted his NCAA eligibility after playing just one season for the Cats.

The NFL Draft is scheduled to begin on April 27 and will continue on until April 29. It is currently projected to be aired on ESPN, ABC and the NFL Network, along with others. 259 athletes will be selected over the span of seven rounds, with Valentine hoping to be one of them.

Kentucky takes on Iowa in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31, with kick off expected for noon EST, airing live on ABC.