Despite talent Cats are thin at wideout

Published 4:57 pm Monday, August 14, 2023

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Numerous national analysts have talked/written about Kentucky having the best group of receivers that it may have ever had, led by star sophomores Barion Brown and Dane Key. That’s why it was a bit surprising when coach Mark Stoops said at UK Media Day that one position where he had concerns was receiver.

“I think if there’s any one position where we’re down a little bit in numbers right now, it’s wideout. I think you all know the skill that we have there, some of the talent we haven’t had in a while. We have some really good players there,” Stoops said.

“But that opens up the opportunity for others to leave (via the transfer portal). It kind of hurts your depth a little bit, so we gotta watch that position a little.”

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Offensive coordinator Liam Coen said Tayvion Robinson, a Virginia Tech transfer last season, needs a “big training camp for him to truly take the next step” up this season. Coen also said sophomore Dekel Crowdus and true freshman Anthony Brown could be important receivers.

“Those are three guys if they step up and can be held accountable, then we have five receivers we can trust,” Coen said.

Kentucky won 10 games in 2021 with Coen as offensive coordinator. Wan’Dale Robinson had a school-record 104 catches for 1,334 yards and seven scores. However, the only other consistent receiving threat that year was Josh Ali.

“I think we are in a good spot this year. We have got to utilize the tight ends more (than in 2021). We have got to use the running backs to spread out the wealth and targets so it is just not Barion and Dane,” Coen said.

The offensive coordinator indicated that tight ends will be a much more significant part of the offense this season.

“Similar to most years, I know they are well coached (by Vince Marrow). They know exactly what they are doing. They don’t make mistakes,” Coen said. “We have a more diverse room. There are things they will be asked to do in the run game and pass game. We might even spread some out wide. They are good blockers, but we can utilize them in the pass game to create mismatches.”