Part four in an eight part series previewing the 2008 Football Wildcats.
When I look over the tentative depth chart for Kentucky’s receivers and tight ends, I can’t help but think that 2008 will be a banner year… for program sales. Unlike last year, when every Kentucky fan knew Keenan, Stevie and Tamme, each completion in 2008 will likely result in feverish flipping of program pages throughout the Commonwealth Stadium stands.
Just how inexperienced are Kentucky’s pass-catchers? There are 17 players realistically competing for playing time at wide receiver and tight end. The two most battle-tested veterans, Dicky Lyons, Jr. and Demoreo Ford, have combined for 128 catches in their Kentucky careers. The remaining 15 players have combined for 2. The wide receiver spot consists of Lyons and Ford, a converted cornerback, two untested sophomores, a redshirt freshman and six true freshmen. The tight end spot boasts considerably more experience, but even less production. So, if you’d like to save the five bucks for your program or impress girls at parties with your football knowledge, allow me to introduce you to your wide receivers and tight ends.
Dicky Lyons, Jr. 5-11, 190 Sr. New Orleans, LA (Holy Cross)
U.K’s reining leader in receiving and ridiculousness, Lyons’ play on the field and absurdity off of it has elevated him to cult status among U.K. fans. Has accumulated 108 career catches for 1,488 yards and 16 touchdowns in U.K. career, including 50+ catches in each of the last two seasons. Question is whether Lyons can have the same impact with defenses focused on him as first option.
Demoreo Ford 5-10, 186 Jr. LaGrange, GA (LaGrange)
Kentucky’s second most experienced receiver, having played in 30 career games with five starts. Has made 20 career catches for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns. Though most memorable play as a Wildcat was 70 yard touchdown in 2006 Music City Bowl vs. Clemson, Ford’s diminutive size and lack of elite burst limit his effectiveness as a deep threat. However, he is a veteran who knows the offense and is an aggressive blocker. Will see the field often as long as his knee is full recovered.
Kyrus Lanxter 6-2, 193 So. Alcoa, TN (Alcoa)
Played in five games as a reserve true freshman in 2007. Caught only 1 pass, but coaches feel the light came on during pre-bowl practice and that Lanxter is ready for a break out in 2008. Some evidence of this is Lanxter’s play in the Blue/White game in which he caught 3 passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. Teammates with freshman Randall Cobb at powerful Alcoa High School where Lanxter was 2 time all-state. Probable starter once fully recovered from freak hand injury. (Hopefully back to full time practice this week.)
EJ Adams 6-0, 197 Jr. Stone Mountain, GA (North Gwinnett)
Good news: one of the few U.K. receivers with significant game experience (18 career games played with 2 starts). Bad news: all of that experience was at cornerback before necessity moved Adams to wideout in the spring. Showed promise with some explosive efforts in spring scrimmages, but still very raw as a receiver.
Terrence Jones 6-2, 205 So. Atlanta, GA (Douglass)
Has not played football since senior high school season at Douglass High School in Atlanta. Redshirted in 2006 and missed 2007 with a torn ACL. A bit of an unknown out of high school as a wide receiver in run-oriented offense at Douglass. Still struggling to overcome rust of lay-off but has excellent size to be potential downfield threat Cats need to take pressure off of running game.
Anthony Mosley 6-0, 176 Fr.-RS Ellenwood, GA (Tucker)
Relative newcomer to football who the coaches hope will develop into a legitimate deep threat with his sub-4.4 speed. Three time scout team player of the week during redshirt season.
Eric Adeyemi 6+0, 170 Fr. Miami, FL (Southridge)
Dade County track star with electric speed. Florida state champion in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles. Certainly undersized but early fall reports have indicated that Adeyemi may be in the rotation.
Aaron Boyd 6-3, 210 Fr. Lexington, KY (Henry Clay)
Gem of the 2008 recruiting class, Boyd was rated the #1 prospect in the state of Kentucky by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. As a senior, caught 58 passes for 1,157 yards and 15 touchdowns at Henry Clay. Recent diagnosis of mono may limit availability for early season and may ultimately lead to Boyd being redshirted.
Randall Cobb II 5-11, 185 Fr. Alcoa, TN (Alcoa)
Won state championship each year of his high school career, including last two at quarterback. Outstanding dual threat quarterback who threw for 22 touchdowns as a senior at Alcoa and rushed for 13 more. Likely to play some receiver in 2008 but currently getting a strong look at the quarterback position.
E.J. Fields 6-2, 190 Fr. Frankfort (Frankfort)
Running quarterback and star cornerback at Frankfort High, Fields is projected at wide receiver at Kentucky. Excellent all around athlete, Fields won the 400 meter state championship three times and added a 200 meter state championship as a junior. Height and athleticism have led to comparisons to Keenan Burton.
Gene McCaskill 6-0, 175 Fr. Chester, SC (Chester)
First team all state in South Carolina as a senior as a quarterback and wide receiver. Versatile athlete was also named all state in track and basketball.
Matt Roark 6-6, 195 Fr. Ackworth, GA (North Cobb)
In what may be one of fall camp’s biggest surprises, Roark has been the most talked about of the incoming wide receivers. Coaches love his height and the speed with which he has learned the offense. Also stated to be an effective blocker, which is a point of emphasis with Joker Phillips. Outstanding dual threat high school quarterback, Roark has made a quick transition and will see the field early in 2008.
T.C. Drake 6-6, 235 Jr. Bardstown (Nelson County)
Has played in 25 career games as a back-up tight end and on special teams. Only one career catch, but made it count with a touchdown in Kentucky’s victory over LSU. Good hands and excellent height but lacks the separation speed or fluid movement of Jacob Tamme.
Maurice Grinter 6-3, 253 Jr. Louisville (Fairdale)
Moves to tight end position after spending first two years as a reserve fullback. An excellent athlete, coaches have been searching for right position for Grinter since his arrival at U.K. Displayed solid pass-catching abilities in limited opportunities as a fullback. Has three career touchdowns rushing and receiving.
Ross Bogue 6-5, 245 Jr. Sewanee, GA (North Gwinnett)
Has played in all 26 games the last two seasons, primarily on special teams. Still awaiting first career catch. Solid, though unspectacular, as a blocker and receiver.
Tyler Sexton 6-2, 242 Jr. Somerset (Pulaski County)
Has played in 12 career games with no catches. Will likely battle Bogue to be the third tight end.
AndrÃ© Henderson 6-6, 226 So. Lexington (Lexington Christian)
Former wide receiver whose height and athleticism make him a possible deep threat at the tight end position. Played in three games as a walk-on wide receiver in 2007.
ïƒ©Note: True freshman tight end Sean Stackhouse has been moved to the offensive line.
Lyons, despite his off-the-field wackiness, is a proven playmaker, as seen by his 16 career touchdowns. His job will be more difficult in 2008, without targets like Keenan Burton and Stevie Johnson to draw the focus of defenses. Ford is a veteran receiver who is not a star, but will provide a workmanlike effort if fully recovered from his second significant knee injury. Beyond these two veterans, the coaches must find four or five other players who can provide a solid rotation. More importantly, out of this group, at least one legitimate deep threat must emerge. Lanxter appears to be the most likely candidate. At tight end, coaches are looking desperately for someone on the depth chart to emerge to provide a security blanket for Mike Hartline as he settles into the quarterback position. The good news is that unlike past Kentucky teams, this year’s squad has a full roster of options, and hopefully some answers to the receiving question.