LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – On a chilly afternoon at Kroger Field, Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. walked onto the field with the cameras on and said a few simple, yet profound words: “BBN, let’s run it back.”

Those words signified that the Wildcats will have their reliable ball carrier back next season, joining his quarterback Will Levis who announced before the bowl game that he will return as well.

Rodriguez Jr. racked up 1,379 rushing yards this season, which is the fifth most for a single season in program history. His 2,739 career rushing yards is sixth in program history, and enters next season 1,134 yards off from Benny Snell’s mark of first all-time set in 2018.

The offense looks to return most of its skill players, with the glaring exception being receiver Wan’Dale Robinson who announced last week he will forgo his senior season and head to the NFL draft.

On the defensive side, linebacker DeAndre Square also made Big Blue Nation a happy bunch on Monday evening when he announced he would return for his “super” senior season. The 6’1″, 280-pound Michigan native racked up 80 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2021.

Square is a key piece of a jam-packed linebackers room returning in 2022, with leading tacklers Jacquez Jones, JJ Weaver, Trevin Wallace and Jordan Wright all coming back.

They will have a new linebackers coach with Mike Stoops, the brother of head coach Mark Stoops, joining the staff after previous linebackers coach Jon Sumrall left to become the head coach at Troy University. Defensive coordinator Brad White also coaches outside linebackers.