Transfer UK running back lives and breathes football

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

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Maybe most Kentucky fans don’t know a lot about transfer running back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye, but quarterback Devin Leary does because they played together two years at North Carolina State before independently deciding to transfer to UK this season.

“Just seeing him take the game in a serious approach, not only at N.C. State, being able to play as a redshirt freshman, but transferring in and doing everything he can to help this offense,” Leary said about his former team.

“Being out there on the field, it makes me realize how much I appreciate the work he has put into his game as well.”

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He played in 14 games during his two years at N.C. State and ran for 305 yards — averaging 5.5 yards per carry — and three touchdowns and caught 12 passes for 148 yards and another score.

He was a top 50 running back nationally after his high school career in New Jersey, where he had 1,321 all-purpose yards his senior year, along with 53 tackles and two interceptions on defense.

Offensive coordinator Liam Coen says Sumo-Karngbaye has a “high football IQ” who can do many things well.

“All he does is watch YouTube videos of football. That is his passion,” Coen said. “He has great hands, and I also think he will be good in pass protection. He has the ability to play multiple positions. He could play wide receiver, run, catch the ball out of the backfield. I’ve been really happy with what we have seen from him.”

Vanderbilt transfer Ray Davis is expected to be UK’s starting running back but won’t be a workhorse like Benny Snell or Chris Rodriguez were for the Cats.

“I do have a lot of confidence in the guys we have. How many reps or carries each guy gets I cannot say,” Coen said at UK’s Media Day. “I knew we could hand the ball to Chris, and he was going to get four (yards). As a play caller, that was very reassuring.

“How we disperse the carries (this year) might be different. Look at LSU two years ago. We ran for 300 yards and Chris only had 19 carries. Getting guys a lot of work while keeping them fresh through the season is important.”