Liam Coen’s offense is losing firepower in the preseason. Matt Jones reports that Kentucky tight end Keaton Upshaw suffered an injury during preseason training and is sidelined indefinitely. Mark Stoops is expected share more details on Upshaw’s timetable for return this afternoon at SEC Media Days.
A 6-foot-7, 245 pound athlete from Lima, Oh., everyone around the UK football program expected a big 2021 season from Upshaw. Without a plethora of reliable options at wide receiver, Coen’s new scheme provides an ideal alternative, leaning on the tight ends more heavily in the pass game. Although not the most experienced player, Upshaw is by far the top pass-catcher of the group.
In 2020 Upshaw led Kentucky in receiving touchdowns with three, and he was second to only Josh Ali in receptions (16) and yards (193). His contested, game-tying touchdown reception against Florida was one of the most impressive catches of the season.
Terry Wilson hits Keaton Upshaw for Kentucky’s first touchdown of the afternoon.pic.twitter.com/oFv6SJxQyP
— Cats Coverage ? (@CatsCoverage_) November 28, 2020
This is not the tight ends’ first serious run-in with the injury bug. Kentucky’s coaches planned on playing Upshaw as a true freshman until he suffered a season ending knee injury in the first weeks of the 2018 season. Super senior Justin Rigg suffered multiple gnarly injuries early in his career, including a lacerated spleen in one spring practice. Brenden Bates will be asked to step up in Upshaw’s absence, but the Cincinnati Moeller product also missed five weeks of action last year with an injury.
If Upshaw is unable to play this fall, the Wildcats still have experience to lean on and could add to their reinforcements. Bowling Green product Jordan Dingle was one of the highest-ranked signees in the 2021 recruiting class. If he’s too wet behind the ears to play this fall, two wide receivers are built like tight ends and have the blocking acumen to move to Vince Marrow’s meeting room: Michigan State transfer Tre’Von Morgan and Louisville Male product Izayah Cummings.
Two Wildcats’ previously suffered season ending injuries in the offseason, wide receiver Clevan Thomas and linebacker D’Eryk Jackson. Both were expected to compete for starting positions in 2021.
Stoops confirmed Upshaw’s injury with local reporters Tuesday afternoon. “We will assess it. Traditionally speaking that is a season-ending injury, but we will see and we need to confirm that.”