UK receiver Key clicking with coordinator Coen, quarterback Leary

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Kentucky receiver Dane Key has no reservations about playing in Liam Coen’s system. He’s looking forward to it.

The former Frederick Douglass receiver was recruited and signed by Coen before the Kentucky offensive coordinator left for a similar position with the Los Angeles Rams before returning to Lexington last spring.

As a freshman, Key caught 37 passes for 519 yards and six touchdowns last year but is looking forward to being part of Coen’s system this season.

Email newsletter signup

“Coach (Liam) Coen just gives us the option to make the plays and he’s going to put the ball in his playmaker’s hands,” he said. “I feel like that’s what our whole receiver room is, filled with playmakers. You put the ball in any of our hands, any of us, we’re going to make a play.”

During the off-season, Key worked on his body weight and got stronger. The 6-foot-3 receiver is now up to 195 pounds and has improved his mental approach to the game.

“I’ve gotten a lot bigger than last year and my mindset has also changed a lot, too, because I’ve been through the games, and I know what to expect,” he said. “This year, I know what to expect, and when I step on the field, I just know how to be dominant.”

A year ago, the Wildcats used 13 different starters on the offensive line, which sometimes created issues for the linemen and the key offensive players. Coen takes a more simplified approach to the offense, which Key said will make a “big difference.”

“I feel like once all offensive linemen build the connection of being closer with each other, and you know who they know they’re going to play with besides each other, they have a little bit more trust and the guy next to them, rather than switching guys out and then they don’t really know if they can trust him,” he said. “I feel like our whole line trusts everybody in that room. There’s just one big family in there right now as we are as one team. So I just feel like I feel a lot more connected this year.”

In addition to his coordinator, Key has already created a bond with quarterback Devin Leary both on and off the field.

“I always mess with him. I’m messing with him every day,” he said. “That’s probably like one thing I got to do in my day is just mess with Leary. I’ve got to go mess with him. I feel like building the connection off the field is only going to help us on the field.”

A proven playmaker in his own right, Key is looking forward to making a more significant impact in Coen’s system.

“Every time I step on the field, I’m just looking to have a good game,” he said. “I’m not really worried about the whole season. I’m really worried about that (particular game). I’m really excited for this year and what we can do with this team.”