Senior center played in 54 career games on the “Big Blue Wall”
Kentucky senior center Luke Fortner was chosen in the third round by the Jacksonville Jaguars as the 65th overall pick in the 2022 National Football League Draft on Friday in Las Vegas.
Fortner, a 6-foot-6, 297-pound “super senior” from Sylvania, Ohio, was a two-time Campbell Trophy semifinalist who played in 54 career games for Kentucky. After switching from right guard to center prior to the 2021 season, Fortner found his niche, excelling in his new role on the “Big Blue Wall.” He graded at 84.5 percent for the 2021 season, including 19 knockdown blocks. He earned first-team All-Southeastern Conference accolades from SEC Coaches and was a second-team All-SEC pick by Pro Football Focus and Phil Steele.
During Fortner’s six seasons with the Wildcats, UK posted a 47-29 record and advanced to a school-record six straight bowl games, highlighted by winning the last four in a row, another school record. The UK has won at least 10 games four times in school history, two of which occurred during Fortner’s term with the Wildcats – 10-3 in 2018 and 2021 seasons, capped by a Vrbo Citrus Bowl win in both seasons.
Fortner was a three-year starter for the Wildcats, a two-year regular at right guard (2019, ’20) before moving to center in the ’21 campaign. After redshirting in 2016, he played the next five years and blocked for players who totaled four 1,000-yard seasons, including Benny Snell Jr., UK’s all-time leading rusher.
Fortner graduated in December 2019 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He also recently earned a master’s degree in aerospace engineering and will officially graduate next week. While working on his master’s in aerospace engineering, he also began working on a second master’s degree in business administration from the UK’s prestigious Gatton College of Business and Economics. He is also on track to graduate with his MBA next week. Fortner is a five-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and was named Second-Team CoSIDA Academic All-American.
The Draft concludes with rounds 4–7 on Saturday, April 30 at noon ET. The Draft will be televised nationally by NFL Network, ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and can be heard nationwide on Westwood One Radio, SiriusXM NFL Radio and ESPN Radio.
Kentucky / NFL Draft Notes:
- This marks the fourth straight year UK has had at least one player taken in the first three rounds. This year, Wan’Dale Robinson and Joshua Paschal were chosen in the second round by the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions, respectively.
- Fortner is the 21st player drafted under head coach Mark Stoops at Kentucky, the third player in the 2022 NFL Draft.
- Kentucky has totaled three players selected in the first three rounds four times in school history, including twice in the last four years under Coach Mark Stoops: 2022, 2019, 1966 and 1951. (NOTE: the third round of this year’s draft was still in progress as this was written.)
- This is the fourth straight year UK has had an offensive lineman drafted. Offensive tackle George Asafo-Adjei was drafted in the seventh round by the New York Giants in the 2019 NFL Draft and offensive guard Logan Stenberg was drafted in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Landon Young was drafted in the sixth round by the New Orleans Saints in the 2021 NFL Draft.
- There have been two other Wildcats who have been drafted by the Jaguars’ franchise in Marlon McCree (2001) and Josh Allen (2019). Fortner rejoins Allen, a former teammate and first-round draft pick, who enters his fourth season as a defensive end / linebacker in Jacksonville.