UK’s offensive coordinator Neal Brown reiterated throughout spring practice that we were thin at the wide receiver slot; troubling for an “air raid” offense, but with four freshmen wide receivers coming to campus for the summer it was still looking up. Brown is still hinting that UK may not be complete at the WR position. So what does this mean for UK this season, the upcoming years and recruiting?
Brown who ran the nation’s number 2 passing offense at Texas Tech last season, and former UK receiver himself has spent the last eight months installing the air raid offense back to UK. At Tech, Browns offense was 12th in total offense nationally and 16th in scoring (and that was in the Big12).
What They’re Working With:
Last year UK’s offense ranked 13th (ahead of only Auburn) in total offense in the SEC and 12th in receiving yards. The Cats scored 215 total points last season an averaged 17.9 a game. Our comp-att-int numbers? 220-387-10. We had 13 passing touchdowns last season. UK was able to convert only 40% of third downs (71-178) and 14% of 4th downs (3/22).
From the remnants of Randy Sanders offense we have sophomore AJ Legree (#6), Junior Demarco Robinson (#9), sophomore Daryl Collins (#23), redshirt freshman Austin Sheehan (#29), junior Muhammad Saifullah (#34), junior William Tanner (#35), sophomore Rashad Cunningham (#81), redshirt freshman AJ Johnson (#88).
Legree, Robinson and Collins look to make the most impact on the field this yaer. Legree played every game last season and caught 12 passes for 113 yards. Robinson was UK’s primary punt returner last season and played all 12 games and started four. Robinson caught 28 passes for 297 yards last season including 7 for 75 yards against WKU. His career totals are 33 catches for 314 yards. Collins also played all 12 games last season and caught 17 for 171 yards; against Louisville he had 7 catches for 64 yards.
Since Stoops began blazing the recruiting trail the second he stepped on campus, he had a few months to flip a few recruits to UK before National Sign Day in February. Stoops and staff recruited Jeff Badet, Alex Montgomery and Ryan Timmons, all incoming freshman. Badet, from Orlando, was listed by ESPN as a 3 star and he is set to wear lucky #13 this season. Montgomery is from Weston, Florida and was listed by ESPN as a 3 star as well, he is wearing #17 this season. Timmons, a Kentucky native from Frankfort was listed by ESPN is a 4 star and will be wearing the #1 jersey this season. Stoops also found transfers in Javess Blue and Steven Borden. Blue, a JUCO transfer who will have two years of eligibility (2013-14). Blue will be on campus just in time for camp and was rated a 3 star by 247 sports. Borden is listed on the UK athletics website as a WR/TE, but is on the media guide depth chart as a tight end, he will be a junior.
The depth chart currently has Robinson, Collins and Legree as the starting recievers with Sheehan, Shields, and Cunningham at second string, Johnson, Tanner, and Saifullah at third string. This of course, is subject to change after camp. Another factor to consider is quarterback-receiver chemistry, and our quarterback is still TBD.
Stoops also nabbed twin transfers from Pitt- Chris and Demetrius Davis. They both redshirted at Pitt, but due to eligibility will not be able to play until 2014 and will remain eligible until 2016. They are, however coming to campus for this season’s upcoming camp and will be with the team all year.
For this season our top 3 receivers are pretty clear and there is plenty of opportunity for the true freshman to get on the field and make an impact, gaining valuable experience for their next four years. Once the air raid offense is fully implemented and we have our set quarterback I think the receivers we have will thrive under this system, especially the freshman and sophomores.
The Future is Bright:
Since Stoops began dominating recruiting for the 2014 class UK has added three wide receiver prospects: Garrett Johnson (who just committed yesterday), Thaddeus Snodgrass, and T.V. Williams. Johnson is a 3 star, Snodgrass a 4 star, and Williams is also a 3 star. They will be on campus and ready to go for next season. It’s worth noting that two of those three are Army All Americans too.
Don’t forget that UK is still in the running for four-star receiver Braxton Berrios, who also has offers from South Carolina, Ohio State, and Miami.
With these guys and more commits on the way, added with the experience of the upperclassman I can see our offense taunting SEC defenses in the upcoming years. Just to get you excited, here’s a video. Or two.
Sound the sirens y’all, we have an air raid.