Explosive Brown forsook beloved chicken wings to prepare for sophomore season

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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If there is one thing you must like about Barion Brown even more than his explosiveness on the football field, it is how the Kentucky sophomore receiver enjoys everything he does.

He was a freshman all-American last season when he had 50 catches for 628 yards, both UK freshman records, and four touchdowns. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown — UK’s first kickoff return for a score since Derrick Locke in 2009 — and ranked fourth nationally in kickoff return average at 27.5 yards per return. His

His breakout national game came when he had 10 catches for 145 yards and one touchdown against national champion Georgia. He had 245 all-purpose yards against Ole Miss on only five touches that included a UK freshman record 164 yards on three kickoff returns. Three times, he won an SEC weekly award.

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Brown, a top 300 player in his recruiting class and a five-star prospect at Pearl-Cohn High School in Nashville, picked UK over Alabama, LSU and TCU. He also has gone back to wearing No. 7, his high school number, this season at UK.

“I am taking it back from Will (Levis),” Brown laughed and said about the former UK quarterback who is now in the NFL.

Brown has a tattoo to remind him that being consistent is how he can become a star and get to the next level. It’s something offensive coordinator Liam Coen also frequently reminds him about.

“Coen knows where we want to get to. He holds us accountable. He is there when we need them and he’s always looking to outsmart the defensive coaches, and I love that, but we have to be consistent in our play for him to do that,” Brown, a state champion sprinter in high school, said.

Brown believes that he and sophomore Dane Key can be one of the best receiving duos in the Southeastern Conference and the country. One reason is transfer quarterback Devin Leary.

“He puts a nice spin on the ball. He is basically a coach, too,” Brown said. “Just knowing you got somebody back there ready to sling it to you and hang out with you is big.”

He likes to dance after scoring a touchdown. Last year his go-to dance was the Griddy. Brown plans to do the Griddy again this season when he scores.

“I have to do it in front of my momma this time. I didn’t really get to do it in front of her last season. When I am in the end zone (at Kroger Field) doing the Griddy hopefully my momma will do it too. I just have to get her to learn the dance,” Brown laughed and said.

Brown said he had a good spring and summer in the weight room to prepare him for this season better. He did limit how much of his favorite food — chicken wings — that he ate. He would limit himself to 10 wins with fries and a drink to avoid putting on a “gut” he didn’t need for football but admits he could eat way more than 10 at once.

“Anywhere I go I am going to get chicken wings. I am a chicken wing guy. I ain’t going to lie. I might turn into one,” Brown said. “I have loved them for as long as I can remember. I always get chicken wings every day. Ask anybody on the team what they see me with and it will be chicken wings.”

Freshman receiver Shamar Porter of Nashville competed against Brown in high school. He knows his friend’s love for chicken wings is real.

“I have not seen anybody love chicken wings like Barion. I love seafood, lobster, crab, but I remember on his official visit he went to a five-star restaurant and could have had steak or lobster and chose chicken wings. That’s just him,” Porter said. “He’s a fun-loving guy but he’s also a great player and always has been.”