We’re inching closer and closer to spring practice and today, we’ll look at the receiver position as the next installment of the “Pre-Spring Primer” series.
#6 – A.J. Legree – SO – 6’1 / 180 – Fort White, FL
#9 – Demarco Robinson – JR – 5’10 / 160 – Ellenwood, GA
#23 – Daryl Collins – SO – 5’11 / 200 – Gadsden, AL
#81 – Rashad Cunningham – SO – 6’4 / 215 – Mobile, AL
#83 – Demarcus Sweat – SO – 6’1 / 190 – Lithonia, GA
#87 – Bookie Cobbins – SO – 6’0 / 185 – New Orleans, LA
#29 – Austin Sheehan – RFR – 5’9 / 170 – Ft Thomas, KY
#35 – William Tanner – JR – 6’0 / 190 – Nashville, TN
#83 – Derrick Quarles – SO – 5’11 / 185 – Russellville, KY
#88 – A.J. Johnson – RFR – 6’2 / 185 – Portland, OR
Javess Blue – JR – 6’0 / 190 – Babson Park, FL
Alex Montgomery – FR – 6’2 / 210 – Weston, FL
Jeff Badet- FR – 6’0 / 170 – Orlando, FL
Ryan Timmons – FR – 5’10 / 185 – Frankfort, KY
Kentucky will not have a single senior wide receiver on the roster next season. The most experienced players returning will be junior Demarco Robinson and junior college transfer Javess Blue. Past them, a group of five sophomores, three freshmen, and four known walk-ons will make up the 2013 receiving corps. Robinson has flashes brilliance at times (see the 2012 Blue/White game) and has been frustrating at times (see the 2012 season), but is the right type of player to be deadly out of the slot position. He is listed at a generous 5’10, but he’ll have to get his weight up above 160 pounds to be effective against SEC defenses. Javess Blue was one of the countries top junior college receivers and could very well become the Wildcats’ top receiving target in his first season on campus. Sophomore Daryl Collins showed flashes of what he can be last season as a redshirt freshman, but he will be counted on heavily this coming year and should be able to play on the perimeter as well as in the slot. True sophomore AJ Legree played well in limited time as a true freshman last season, and his size and phenomenal leaping ability will make him an early favorite as a perimeter receiver. That’s about where the confidence stops.
True sophomore Demarcus Sweat was electrifying at times last season as a freshman, but academic struggles forced him to sit out the last few games as he focused on schoolwork. If he can handle business in the classroom, Sweat could be the break-out star of 2013. If not, he may not see the field this year. Redshirt sophomore Bookie Cobbins made the transition from quarterback to receiver last season and has yet to log a catch. He also has faced academic difficulties. Fellow redshirt sophomore Rashad Cunningham has an NFL-ready body, but he has also failed to register a catch and struggled to hold onto the ball in the spring last season in the Blue/White game. He has reportedly struggled to adjust from a run-heavy offense in high school.
None of the walk-ons played last season. Outside of possibly Austin Sheehan (Patrick Towles favorite target in high school), none are expected to contribute heavily this season.
The freshmen trio of Montgomery, Badet, and Timmons may all play extensively as true freshmen. Timmons is the prototypical slot receiver in the offense and will be running the same scheme at UK that he ran in high school. Badet is a player that could play outside or in the slot in college and should give the offense some flexibility. Montgomery might be the most underrated player in the class. He is a physical receiver that was even considered a top-15 tight end prospect by ESPN. He gives the receivers some size and brute strength in addition to his excellent ability as a receiver.
Kentucky is short at receiver. The available players aren’t very big, there aren’t enough of them, and they don’t have ideal experience. The move to the Air-Raid has made having 12-15 scholarship receivers ideal and Kentucky falls short of that range this year. More concerning, is that only Robinson and Collins have extensive playing experience in the SEC, and all of Collins’ playing time came last season. If the offense is going to wing it as much as the scheme calls for, the production will have to be there from these guys. The Wildcats’ success next season may very well depend on how quickly the young freshman and sophomore receivers adjust and contribute.
In reality, it’s a most impossible to guess what the receiving corps will look like this year. If the offense runs out of a four receiver set, I think you’re going to see Robinson, Blue, Collins, and Legree all step up to the top of the depth chart. The top subs will likely be some combination of Montgomery, Badet, Timmons, and Sweat. Cobbins and Cunningham are both developing as receivers and probably will need a little more time. If Patrick Towles wins the starting quarterback job, Austin Sheehan becomes a wildcard in this position battle as well. One thing that’s for sure though, is that Kentucky fans will have to get used to seeing a lot of wide receivers rotating in and out and even if they don’t start, almost all of them will play.