Part four in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats.
Sophomore Ryan Timmons looks to create more explosive plays in his second season in Lexington.
Jeff Badet 6-0, 169 So. Orlando, FL
Demarco Robinson 5-10, 158 Sr. Ellenwood, GA
Thaddeus Snodgrass 6-1, 178 Fr-HS Springfield, OH
Ryan Timmons 5-10, 195 So. Frankfort, KY (Franklin County)
Joey Herrick 6-1, 197 Jr. Maynard, Mass
TV Williams 5-10, 160 Fr-HS McKinney, TX
Javess Blue 6-0, 191 Sr. Babson Park, FL
Rashad Cunningham 6-4, 225 Jr. Mobile, AL
Alexander Montgomery 6-2, 210 So. Weston, FL
Cameron Fogle 5-11, 203 Fr-RS Hebron, KY (Conner)
Steven Borden 6-3, 246 Sr. Waxahachie, TX
Ronnie Shields 6-5, 254 Sr. Stone Mountain, GA
There is no position group on the Wildcat roster than better personifies the state of the Kentucky program in year two of the Mark Stoops era than the receiver position. Like the program as a whole, justifiable optimism surrounds the position. For the first time in several years, there is young talent available, and the forecast for this fall is appreciably brighter than it was at this time last year. Still, like the entire program, the receivers are an unfinished product. The position is short on depth and experience. Young players will be thrown into action early in their careers, at times prematurely. It will be up to this young group to help elevate the second coming of the Air Raid into something formidable, and to help transform Mark Stoops’ off-season successes into tangible on-field progress.
It is easy to forget just how dire the situation at wide receiver looked going into last season. With the intent of installing a high powered passing offense, offensive coordinator Neal Brown began the season with a roster of receivers who had caught a combined 73 catches and zero touchdowns in their entire UK careers. By contrast, the current crop of returning receivers have accounted for 169 catches and 11 touchdowns. Not mammoth numbers by any stretch, but certainly indicative of progress within the position. This returning group features experienced players who have demonstrated the ability to be play makers as well as a large number of highly regarded newcomers.
For Kentucky to have any hope of a passing game in 2013, Javess Blue had to be an immediate factor. He didn’t disappoint, even if Kentucky’s passing game left a lot to be desired. Blue accumulated 43 catches for 586 yards and 4 touchdowns in his first year with the Cats, while also establishing himself as a punt and kickoff returner. His 103 all purpose yards per game led the team. If history is any indicator, expect Blue to have a huge senior season. Many of Kentucky’s previous junior college wide receivers (Stevie Johnson, Aaron Boone, Chris Bernard) made significant strides between their first and second seasons of division one football. Johnson in particular jumped from just 12 catches and one touchdown in his first season in Lexington to 60 catches and 13 touchdowns in his second. (Including one somewhat memorable occasion in which he “got loose.” Thanks Stevie.) The explosive, and aptly-named Blue appears primed for a large leap in his final year as a Cat as well.
Kentucky fans are also excited to see Franklin County’s own Ryan Timmons return for his sophomore campaign. Timmons established himself as one of the most dynamic high school players in the state’s history, but there were questions as to how his skills would translate to the highest level of college football. Timmons answered those questions by becoming the Cats’ second leading receiver as a true freshman. Because he spent much of his time in high school as a running back, Timmons’ success last year was based largely on his freakish talent. Coaches have raved about Timmons’ progress in the summer and early portion of camp, as he works to become a more refined receiver. As he continues to develop those skills, Timmons promises to have an ever-increasing impact on the Kentucky offense. Jeff Badet, Demarco Robinson and Alexander Montgomery (if healthy), will also provide experienced depth at the position.
Kentucky’s incoming receivers may be the most impressive collection in the program’s history. Dorian Baker, Blake Bone and Thaddeus Snodgrass are all 4 star prospects who spurned traditional powers to cast their respective lots with Mark Stoops. As a departure from Kentucky football tradition, which tends to favor receivers who can double as jockeys during the Keeneland fall meet, each of these receivers has excellent size. In particular, Baker is listed at 6-3, while Bone stands 6-5. Even the slightly lesser-regarded players, Garrett Johnson and TV Williams, were pursued by major programs, and will fight for early playing time. Expect at least three true freshmen to find their way into the rotation.