By now #BBN knows the football team’s biggest dilemma this year lies in a very thin, inexperienced WR group. When Neal Brown is mentioning tryouts for out of shape students like myself, the writing is on the wall that the Air Raid may be more of an Air Run in 2013. However, after 3-star WR T.V. Williams committed to the Cats last night, Neal Brown and his company of QBs will have something to work with next fall.
SR Demarco Robinson
Demarco was the fastest player on the field for the Cats last season, but the little guy rarely had a shot to use that speed last season. Being much smaller it was tough enough getting open, let alone having a QB that can deliver it to him efficiently. This year Marco has a much better shot at being ‘the guy’. For Neal Brown size doesn’t matter (see what I did there); the small speedy guys can be used effectively in the Air Raid running quick slants and out routes in the slot. Add that to the fact that he has had a year for his body to mature, Marco should be ‘the guy’ this year. With an experienced slot for 2014, it’ll only make it easier for young guys (as you’ll see there are MANY potential slot WRs) to get their toes wet before diving head first into the SEC.
JR Daryl Collins
Daryl came to UK receiving high praises for his size and athleticism, expecting to get high quality PT (that’s playing time for you rooks) as a true freshman for Joker’s team that was coming off of a bowl appearance. A knee injury took Collins out of the equation in 2011, with a 2012 bounce back campaign that saw only a few highlights, racking in 17 catches for 171 yards. Daryl and his dreads haven’t been spectacular yet, but the Cats are in dire need for a dependable outside WR. Neal Brown will rest a heavy load on his shoulder’s this season; even just minimal progress this year would make him a fantastic asset in 2014.
JR Rashad Cunningham
Rashad Cunningham hasn’t done much of anything for the Cats…yet. The first time I saw the team practice, I was WOWed by his size and footwork. Rashad has always passed the look test at 6’4 220 lbs, but never seemed to have that burning desire necessary to shake things up as a youngster in the SEC. If this year’s coaching staff can light a fire under his ass (if they can’t, no one can), Rashad could be a standout this year, but most assuredly a big outside threat in 2014.
Still Young, but not THAT Young
3-star Javess Blue
JUCO transfer Javess Blue has received more praise from the coaching staff than any other wideout in this group. With some higher-level experience under his belt, the transition will be very smooth for Blue. Coach Mainord expects him to play immediately; his speed and already well developed body will make him seem like less of a freshman in 2013.
3- star Jeff Badet
Jeff Badet may not be a standout playmaker as a true freshman, but WR Coach Tommy Mainord doesn’t doubt that Badet can be excellent as a sophomore, “Jeff Badet can FLY; that guy can REALLY run, he’s explosive. When he gets the ball in space, there’s a good chance he’s going to take it to the house.” The word explosive is thrown around a lot in the sport of football, but if there is one quintessential asset to a football player at any position, it is explosiveness.
3-star Ryan Timmons
Ryan Timmons’ freshman year will be an interesting barometer for how well the high-powered athlete’s skill set transitions into the SEC. After averaging 20 yards PER TOUCH in high school, one can only hope that Timmons can be an immediate go-to utility player, motioning in and out of the slot. The most known player in the incoming class by fans from around the Bluegrass, how Timmons handles the exponentially greater pressure will dictate how Timmons’ career unfolds.
3-star Alex Montgomery
After speaking of one of the class’ most popular players, Alex Montgomery might be one of the class’ best kept secrets. He’s 6’1 but plays like he’s 6’5, skying high on the outside catching passes at the highest point. Coach Mainord knows how well Alex can threaten the defense on the outside, telling me on National Signing Day, “He’s the big, long physical guy that you can put on the outside and he can ‘control the valleys’ and the corner.” Even if Alex doesn’t get immediate playing time, applying pressure to the veteran players in practice will make everyone better.
The New Guys
4- star Thaddeus Snodgrass
Mr. Bluegrass Snodgrass is the most complete wideout in this group. Not only is he cool enough to commit to Kentucky on KSR, but he consistently (as our old friend Bookie would say) ‘keeps it 100’. The Top-200 WR has the speed and size the staff loves, plus the high school accolades that gives fans like us high hopes for the future. He may seem near the bottom of the totem pole in 2014, but Snodgrass will challenge each receiver (regardless of position, inside or outside WR) day in and day out.
3-star T.V. Williams
This TV will be very new, but best believe if Stoops is getting a brand new TV he is going to use it. While he is rated lower than most, it really doesn’t matter one bit. The kid is so fast his feet are blurry, almost like the static on an old TV. Drew Barker couldn’t have explained TV any better in his diary last night, “[He’s a player] who can dump down screens and take a one-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown.” This is why Neal Brown and QBs alike love this system, they can make the easy throw and let the WR do all of the work (WRs are big fans too). If anyone is slacking, you best believe Coach Mainord won’t hesitate to test out his new TV.
Pitt Transfer Demitrious Davis
D. Davis has been out of the game for awhile, playing little time during his one season at Pitt after missing his Senior year of high school with a knee injury. Larry Vaught spoke with the twins father, who liked to draw a Randall Cobb comparison. D. Davis was a 1,000 rusher and passer as a Jr. high school QB, kind of how Cobb played in Alcoa. With fast feet and a thick frame, D. Davis could be a great threat through the middle of the field, being able to not only take a hit, rather DELIVER the blow.
4-star Boom Williams
Boom isn’t really a WR; he’s what we in the football world like to call a utility back. He could be a running back, he could lineup as a slot receiver, or a wing back (about 2 yards behind the tight end). That utility position is often used in motion, making the defense adjust quickly before the snap. Some guys don’t have the ability to take advantage of the motion; they just don’t have the speed to use that extra step to their advantage. Boom’s speed won’t be a problem, and his running back experience makes him a perfect candidate to be ‘the guy’ that can catch a short pass and takes it to the house.
The numbers are slowly beginning to grow in the WR group, but what’s most impressive is the variety they will have in 2014. By my count, here is how spread out this spread offense will be:
Outside Receivers: 5
Slot Receivers: 4
Utility Backs: 2
Now nothing in football is a guarantee, but optimism is only growing around the bluegrass. The Class of 2014 is far from being concluded, and there are still plenty of great WR targets on UK’s big board including:
4-star Slot WR Braxton Berrios
4-star 6’5 WR Blake Bone
3-star Athlete Stanton Truitt
4-star BIG WR Moral Stephens
3-star Slot WR Garrett Johnson