Kentucky has 14 scholarship receivers on the roster in 2021, but questions still loom large. The ‘Cats have proven commodities in Josh Ali and Wan’Dale Robinson, but after that things get dicey. That position took a hit this week when redshirt senior Clevan Thomas Jr. was ruled out for the year due to an ACL injury.
The South Florida product was providing a veteran presence during spring practice and was praised by both head coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Liam Coen. Thomas projected to be an important part of the wide receiver rotation providing Kentucky some experience to utilize out of the slot.
That is now gone.
Kentucky is now down a veteran in Jovon Bouknight’s position room and must go searching for some answers. With plenty of unproven pieces on the roster, let’s dig into the personnel and see which players could be ready to step up to the challenge and take some playing time in 2021.
The high three-star prospect out of South Georgia enrolled early after signing with the Wildcats in Dec. 2020. Magwood picked Kentucky over Arkansas, Florida State, Louisville, Nebraska, and South Carolina. The wideout was a four-year starter at Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County, and moved to quarterback his senior season.
At six-foot and 180 pounds, the rookie wideout seems to have the traits to be an effective slot receiver. The tape from high school shows a technician with an excellent change of direction that allows the wideout to create easy separation. When the ball is delivered, Magwood is a natural catcher that plucks the ball out of the air.
The coaches have been impressed with the newcomer this spring.
“Chauncey is another kid similar to La’Vell [Wright] that just eats it all up,” offensive coordinator Liam Coen told reporters during spring practice. “He’s doing a really nice job of learning the book and getting in it. He’s just a great kid. You can see some of the former quarterback traits come out in his game in terms of just understanding some zones and voids. A little bit out of control at times just because he’s not used to running a ton of routes, but he’s got big strong hands and he’s a natural leader. He just wants to do things the right way all the time. You can’t get sick of that as a coach. The kid just wants to eat it up and do the best he can on a day-to-day, rep-to-rep basis. Excited about Chauncey moving forward.”
Tae Tae Crumes
A recruiting win out of Louisville (Ky.) Butler in the class of 2019, Crumes has been buried on the depth chart in his first two seasons on campus, but that could be changing soon. A player who finished with 35 receiving touchdowns in high school has gotten some praise from Mark Stoops multiple times this offseason.
“Tae Tae showed up today, toward the end of practice he caught a deep pass,” Stoops told reporters earlier this spring. “I’ve been waiting to see him emerge because he’s got the speed we’ve been missing. It was great to see Tae Tae make some plays for us.”
Crumes would probably be a better fit playing outside receiver at the Z position, but the loss of Thomas could provide the third-year player an avenue to get on the field. The staff clearly likes the top-end speed the in-state product brings to the table, and this loss could allow him to get on the field and stretch defenses vertically.
Michael Drennen II
The late signing day victory for the Kentucky program back in 2020, Drennen headed to Lexington with some very high expectations. In his true freshman season, the slot receiver played in eight games recording three receptions for 26 yards. The multi-positional athlete that picked Kentucky over USC still needs to get up to speed on the new scheme.
“Mike’s got to get in his book,” Coen told the media this spring. “He missed some time early on and it’s really hard to play catch-up. It’s really hard to play catch-up when you’re trying to get aligned. It’s really hard to get aligned, and then just not know where you’re going. He definitely flashes some athleticism, he’s a smart kid, he’ll figure it out. It’s just a matter of getting him into a rhythm.”
The playmaking ability is there, but there is still a learning curve for the young player. If the lightbulb comes on in the next few months, this could be a guy that could take off and find a role in the new offense.