New assistant coach Michael Smith is inheriting a wide receivers room that only features ten scholarship players. Four of them will be freshmen this fall. Tavin Richardson and Dorian Baker will be the only players with more than a year of college experience.
“I like the challenge of being able to mold those guys. I look forward to it. I’ve had a bunch of young receivers in my career,” Smith said yesterday. “You have to have patience. You have to understand that they are 17 and 18-year-old young men that are trying to find their way not only on the football field, but in life.”
Smith’s first task as their coach is simple: learn everybody’s name. To integrate himself with the players, his first meeting was with Baker, a senior who returns for one final season after suffering a season-ending injury last summer.
“I brought him in and I picked is brain about what he thought about the receiving corps and the team because I want to help these guys chase their dreams individually, but I also want to help them realize that we have to do it as a team.”
Sometimes to best help this Kentucky team it doesn’t require the receivers to catch passes, thanks to Benny Snell. Teaching young kids to be patient blockers is not easy, but Smith believes he can get everyone to buy in.
“The team comes first. We have to do what we have to do to win,” Smith said. “When you’re running down the field to get open, what do you think Benny is back there doing for you guys? He’s blocking, trying to protect the quarterback so that you can have an opportunity to catch a pass, so it goes both ways and it’s a team sport.”
Smith does not need his young wide receivers to be heroes. He needs them to do their job and do it to the best of their ability.
“I just want you to be the best you that you can be. I don’t need Superman. I need Dorian Baker to be the best Dorian Baker. I need Lynn Bowden to be the best Lynn Bowden he can be and so on and so forth. It goes from my top guy all the way to the bottom guy and again, I don’t want anyone to ever look at our position group or me as a coach as a weak link.”
The wide receivers’ work starts before Smith can do anything with them on a football field this spring. It already looks like Bowden and Isaiah Epps are doing what he has to do to become the deep threat Kentucky needs in 2018.
— Lynn Bowden (@H_Huncho) February 12, 2018