One Of The Strongest Groups On The Team
We return to our series of previews to get you ready for the 2022 Kentucky Football season. A huge thank you to everyone who has checked them out so far. In case you missed it we started with the quarterbacks. From there we moved to the running backs, where they have arguably the best room in the SEC. Our last preview looked at the wide receivers. Today we finish with the skill position where again Mark Stoops has one of the best groups in the league. Let’s get right to it with our 2022 Kentucky Spring Preview Tight Ends.
A Big Time Return
In 202o Keaton Upshaw hauled in 16 receptions for 194 yards and three touchdowns. That put him second on the squad behind Josh Ali‘s 54. He seemed primed for a big season in 2021 in then offensive coordinator Liam Coen’s offense. However, a torn pectoral muscle forced him to miss all of 2021. The junior says he’s currently around 90-95 percent but is taking it slow. In fact, he still has a limited range of motion.
After seeing what players like George Kittle have done in new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello’s offense the possibilities are endless. The Lima, Ohio native and his 6-6 frame should get plenty of looks in the red zone. A 30 plus reception season is certainly not out of the question.
We all know what Levis & Crod can do and I’m ready to see what transfers Robinson & Baker can do but the (offensive) player I’m most excited to watch this season is Keaton Upshaw.
— Cody Couch (@Couch_29) April 1, 2022
Brenden Bates is the elder statesman of the tight end room. In addition to being a great run blocker, the senior caught 11 passes for 70 yards and one touchdown. In fact, Scangarello says they may use him at fullback in 2022. He also promises a two tight end attack and much like Upshaw the Cincinnati native could be a threat near the goal line. He’s not the flashiest player but the solid contributor you need for a successful offense.
Continuing on with our 2022 Kentucky Spring Preview Tight Ends let’s look at two more players who are pushing for playing time this season.
A Smooth Transition
Following Upshaw’s injury Vince Marrow’s tight ends were thin at the position. However, they had plenty of depth at wide receiver. What to do in that case? Of course, move a receiver to tight end. Enter Izayah Cummings who made the move and paid immediate dividends. On the season he hauled in 14 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns. While those are pretty good stats his ceiling is even higher in 2022. With his size, he can take on SEC linebackers and can run with the secondary as a result of his speed. Even though it’s Cummings’ second year at the position it’s his first spring practice.
The other player to watch in the tight end room is Jordan Dingle. The Bowling Green native appeared in four games a season ago. As a result, he maintained his redshirt. In that time he caught two passes for 54 yards, which is a pretty great 27 yards per catch. His brother Justice transferred to Lexington from Georgia Tech.
In addition to the four players we talked about Kentucky also has incoming freshman Josh Kattus. The three-star player out of Cincinnati, Ohio ranks as the 40th best player in the Buckeye State. He’s another in the long line of high school powerhouse Moeller who’ve come down Interstate 75 to Lexington.
Wrapping Things Up
There’s no doubt the Kentucky Wildcats possess one of the best tight end groups in the SEC. Of course, the Big Blue Nation has heard it before how they’ll be used more frequently. One only needs to look back at how C.J. Conrad would catch six passes for two scores in one game, only to be seen on a milk carton for the next three games. However, based on Scangarello’s track record you can’t help but be excited. Behind what should be a big year from Upshaw the Cats have four legitimate threats at the position.
Thanks for checking out our 2022 Kentucky Spring Preview tight ends here at Last Word On College Football. Up next we’ll have a full recap of the first spring game since 2019. Following that, we’ll finish up our position previews and then get you ready for the 2022 NFL Draft.