UK Football Preview: The WR’s

n regards to yesterday’s poll, it looks like I was pretty much in touch with the rest of the BBN as to what 3 recruits are the most essential. You said that CJ Leslie, Brandon Knight, and Doron Lamb were the must gets. I was a little conservative and figured Kyrie Irving may be more possible that Knight, but don’t get me wrong, I will take Knight anytime.

Just a quick note that there has been no more news on the supposed UK football player arrest and lots of bloggers have been looking at court records and arrest records and no name have popped up yet. Let’s keep our fingers crossed on this.

So today’s post is my review of the UK WR’s in my ongoing UK preview section. In case you missed it, here are the details on THE QB’s and my preview on THE RB’s is here. Now that you are up to date, lets take a look at …..

THE RECEIVERS

How can I say this and be um politically correct? Well, you know it’s a bad season when your leading receiver caught just 33 passes for just 264 yards. It’s even worse when that receiver, Dicky Lyon Jr, was lost for the season in game 6. I know a lot of fans like to blame Hartline for not being able to get the ball to the wide outs, but to be honest, the wide outs dropped A LOT of passes.

So to blame either Hartline or the WR’s for all the offensive woes is a “chicken or the egg” type situation. There was enough blame to go around equally. DeMoreo Ford, expected to be a leader, battled injuries and finished with 3 passes for 56 yards. Aaron Boyd, the Cat’s highest rated 2008 recruit, had mono in the fall and struggled to get into the rotation all season, finishing with just 5 catches for 46 yards. And ugh, those injuries. The Kentucky YPR stat dropped below 10 yards for the first time since the 2004 season.

It’s easy to be smug and say that this year’s receiving corps HAS to be better because, well, there is no way it can get much worse. That is partly true, but the WR class UK brought in for this year ranks as 23rd, so help is definitely on the way. Let’s take a look at the 2009 Wildcat receivers.

RANDALL COBB

For all the gloom and doom heaped on the WR corps last year, this kid was truly the bright part of the season. Cobb is the leading WR coming back this year with 21 receptions for 197 yards. he showed the potential to be a game breaking receiver in the Arkansas game when he had 2 TD receptions in the final 4:30 to lead the Cats from a 20-6 deficit. Now that UK has upgraded the QB position, Cobb should see full time duty at WR and I can see him getting at least 60 catches for 75o yards or so as a full time WR. This number could actually be a good bit higher. The UK offense still needs to get Cobb about 10-12 touches a game to be effective, so he should be a regular target and he may get a few rushes a game or even see some time out of a “wildcat” formation.

CHRIS MATTHEWS

Matthews, I assume will be the other starer opposite Cobb and I am very excited to see Chris in the Blue and White. Matthews is a JUCO transfer from Los Angeles Harbor College and he appears to be a true, go to WR. In his two seasons at LAHC, Matthews caught 124 passes for 1935 yards and 19 TD’s. Matthews has great size (6’5), great speed (4.5), and is a physical receiver. He was a top 10 JUCO prospect and the 2nd best WR in the JUCO ranks. Last year, he had 80 receptions in just 9 games, so it’s easy to see why I am excited about him. I think he is good for at least the same 60-750 yards I predicted for Cobb.

KYRUS LANXTER

Kyrus is a tall (6’3) and solid receiver with good ball handling skills and has a nice explosive burst. The thing I like about Lanxter is that he can make the tough catch in traffic and has the ability to jump for a big grab. As a freshman, he has 23 grabs for 195 yards but finished the season strongly catching 5 balls for 46 yards and a TD in the bowl game against East Carolina. Lanxter can be a nice slot or a third option and should be a more reliable target with another year under his belt.

GENE McKASKILL

Coming off a 64 yard receiving performance vs East Carolina, McKaskill will compete for some time as a third option. He finished with 15 catches for 181 yards. He has pretty good hands and some elusiveness after catching the ball.

THE REST

If he plays this year, AARON BOYD has a lot to prove. He has the talent and potential to be a 70 catch a season WR, but as of the Blue/White game, the talk was that he may redshirt and take a season to get to fully know the offense. ERIC ADEYEMI came from a college football factory in Miami Southside and caught 13 passes for 108 yards. Freshman LaRod King is a nice looking prospect at 6’6 but needs to add a lot of bulk and work on running patterns before he can be a factor in the SEC. Justin Bean is another good looking freshman, but there are rumors about his eligibility. Brian Adams, another freshman has great size and speed (6’4, 4.4) but played QB in HS and may need a year or two to adjust to a WR role.

THE TIGHT ENDS

The Cats definitely missed Jacob Tamme last year but UK’s top 3 TE’s all return this season and together may have a decent receiving season. TC Drake actually led the team on YPR last year with 17 yards every time he caught the ball and finished with 12-204. Maurice Grinter also showed a nice touch after the catch, going 12-162 with 2 TD’s. Ross Bogue caught a pass for 8 yards. While there may not be one main target here, ala Tamme, it is reasonable to expect a solid 500-600 yard with 4 or 5 TD’s from this group.

UK landed to top 40 TE’s in 2009 and had the 11th best TE class but alas, early indications are that both Anthony Kendrick or Terrell Mitchell may not be academically eligible. If they could play, I would throw either of them in the mix with Drake and Grinter. Boyle County’s Jordan Aumiller could see time this year if neither Kendrick or Mitchell qualify.

ANALYSIS

Once again the WR corps will be very young and mostly untested. Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews make a very nice pair of starting wide outs and could be a year from being a Keenan Burton/Stevie Johnson tandem. I think Lanxter will progress as a third option and while not sexy, UK can have a solid TE option. Locke and Smith are good options out of the backfield as pass targets so I am actually very optimistic about this group. If Chris Matthews is the real deal, this will be a very much improved unit. The QB will have to improve equally for this group to have that desired improvement, but I don’t think I am drinking the Big Blue Kool Aid to say the kids will be alright.

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