Looking At Several Incoming Cats
Some coaches love the transfer portal while others can’t stand it. However, there’s no doubt the portal was great for the 2021 Kentucky Football team. Two big cogs of Mark Stoops’ second 10 win season in four years came that way. Wan’Dale Robinson transferred from Nebraska and had arguably the best year ever for a Wildcat receiver. Will Levis came from Penn State, became the starting quarterback, and put up some great numbers. UK loses quite a bit from this year’s squad and has been very active in finding replacements for 2022. Let’s take a look at who’s heading to Lexington with Kentucky’s transfer portal newcomers.
Big Shoes To Fill
With Robinson headed to the NFL Draft, super senior Josh Ali graduating and Isaiah Epps transferring to Tulsa Kentucky loses 156 catches between the three. Stoops and offensive coordinator Liam Coen needed help quickly and they believe they’ve found their guys. Tayvion Robinson comes to Kentucky after three years at Virginia Tech. During his time in Blacksburg Robinson hauled in 113 passes for 1,555 yards and 13 touchdowns. In addition, he ran for another 227 yards and averaged nearly 14 yards per catch. Furthermore, he’s a threat as a punt returner. In 2021 Robinson led the ACC with 25 punt returns for 328 yards and a touchdown. His 13.1 yards per return also led the conference.
As a freshman, Robinson played on the Virginia Tech squad that lost the epic Belk Bowl thriller to Kentucky. He had two catches for 18 yards in that contest. Seeing how Wan’Dale Robinson fared in the revamped UK offense is a major reason why he transferred to Lexington.
Getting One Away From Saban
Since their national title loss to Georgia, the Alabama Crimson Tide had several players transfer. Kentucky is one of the beneficiaries picking up wide receiver Javon Baker. During his sophomore season, Baker appeared in 13 games hauling in seven passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. His score came in a 63-14 blowout over Southern Mississippi. For his career, Baker played in 20 games with nine receptions for 101 yards.
WR Javon Baker committed to Kentucky today. Here’s Baker with Alabama warming up before the national title game https://t.co/yZ6RR2Ynfk
— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) January 21, 2022
A native of Georgia he ranked as the 200th best player in the country by 247 Sports in the 2020 class. In addition, he was the 20th best player in the Peachtree State and 34th best wide receiver in the country. Playing behind all the five-star recruits at Alabama Baker felt he never got to show what he can do and thinks a change of scenery is best for everyone involved.
Continuing on with Kentucky’s Transfer Portal Newcomers we look at players who can provide help upfront.
Another Brick In The Wall
According to published reports, offensive line coach Eric Wolford is leaving for Alabama. Ultimately, Kentucky has to replace three cogs of the “Big Blue Wall” heading into 2022. Darian Kinnard, who’s listed as a late first or early second-round pick, is headed to the NFL. The other tackle Dare Rosenthal also declared for the draft. In addition center, Luke Fortner graduated. While they have some experience coming back they hit the transfer portal to get help. Tashawn Manning left Auburn and headed to Kentucky.
— Tae_Boogie🦍 (@tashawn544) December 13, 2021
As a “super senior” Manning brings a ton of experience to the Big Blue Wall. At age 23 he played four seasons at Auburn and was on campus for five years. A three-star player in the 2016 class Manning didn’t enroll until the next year after undergoing treatment for leukemia after being diagnosed in 2015. The six-foot-four, 335 pounder started every game at left guard in 2020 and eight games last season. He got familiar with the program as he was on campus while the team prepared for the Citrus Bowl. While he played guard, UK is looking at moving him to center.
On the other side of the ball, the Cats lost their defensive MVP in Josh Paschal. They found a possible replacement through the portal in Darrion Henry-Young formerly of Ohio State. A former four-star prospect and top 200 recruits in the 2020 class Henry-Young had the Cats as one of his final schools. While he picked the Buckeyes Kentucky didn’t burn any bridges and now he’s at Wildcat.
Much like Baker at Alabama, Henry-Young didn’t see a whole lot of playing time at OSU. In two years he saw action in a grand total of four games. He eventually redshirted his freshman year and had no stats last season. With a fresh start, he looks to put up some good numbers for Kentucky.
As we wrap up Kentucky’s transfer portal newcomers we look at a player providing help at quarterback.
A Very Interesting Story
Kentucky knocked off Iowa in the Citrus Bowl. A few days later they picked up a former Hawkeye quarterback. Former three-star player Deuce Hogan announced he was leaving the Big 10 for the SEC. In two years at Iowa Hogan only threw one pass completing it for two yards. While he was stuck behind Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla on the depth chart it was a comment by coach Kirk Ferentz that sent him to the portal.
Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla both had the flu this week.
Kirk Ferentz (joking) on the starter if they were out: “If it was Deuce, with all due respect to Duece, I might’ve stayed in Iowa City."
— John Steppe (@JSteppe1) November 27, 2021
Shortly thereafter Hogan put his name in the transfer portal and will walk-on at Kentucky. He gives the Cats depth behind Levis, Beau Allen, and Kaiya Sheron.
Thanks for checking out Kentucky’s transfer portal newcomers here at Last Word On College Football. There’s likely to be even more movement and we’ll update you as things change.