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2023 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers

One Of The Best Groups On The Team

Hello everyone and welcome back to the latest installment looking at the 2023 Wildcats. In case you missed them we started with the quarterbacks. From there we moved to the running backs. More specifically who will replace Chris Rodriguez? This time out we’re looking at guys catching the passes from new quarterback Devin Leary. In addition, we’ll check out the tight ends. Let’s break it down with our 2023 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers.

A Potent Combination

Mark Stoops’ club lost several wide receivers through the transfer portal. However, they return a ton of talent led by a couple of sophomores. Barion Brown returns after being named a freshman All-American. Last year he led the team with 50 receptions for 628 yards and four touchdowns.

In addition, the Nashville native ranked third in the SEC and eighth in the nation averaging 27.5 yards per kickoff return. Brown started the season with a bang with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the win over Miami (Ohio).

The other fabulous freshman from 2022 is Dane Key. The Lexington native finished third on the team with 37 receptions for 519 yards. In fact, he did lead the Cats in receiving touchdowns with six. Additionally, he had the top play in our 2022 football awards for his incredible catch in the win over Florida. Both Brown and Key spent the off-season putting on muscle and weight to help them better face the physical SEC defensive backs.

Continuing on with our 2023 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers we look at a player who came back for one more season.

Great Expectations

Coming to Lexington from Virginia Tech big things were expected for Tayvion Robinson. He did finish second on the club with 40 catches to go along with 497 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, he struggled down the stretch. In SEC play he hauled in 16 passes for 121 yards and a score. Robinson missed two games last season for various reasons and the coaches expect him to be a leader on and off the field.

Behind Kentucky’s “Big Three,” there isn’t a whole lot of experience. With four receptions Dekel Crowdus has the most of any returning player. He’s likely backup to Brown. Two other players to watch are redshirt freshmen Jordan Anthony and Brandon White. Another option is moving Dee Beckwith back to receiver. That’s where he played at Tennessee.  While, UK has some incoming freshmen who could push for playing time led by Shamar Porter, the highest-ranked 2023 recruit.

As we finish up our 2023 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers let’s now turn our attention to tight ends.

Lots Of Experience

Normally spring football is the time when Leary would work on finding a rhythm with his receivers. Unfortunately for the Cats, the top three tight ends on the depth chart aren’t participating. Brenden Bates, Jordan Dingle, and Josh Kattus are all out until further notice.

Dingle was fourth on the team with 20 receptions and had three touchdowns. Bates had ten catches and a score while Kattus hauled in seven passes. Of course, with all these guys out that creates an opportunity for someone else. For Kentucky, that player is Izayah Cummings.

In 2021 under then offensive coordinator Liam Coen Cummings had a breakout season after switching from wide receiver to tight end. He finished the year with 14 receptions for 195 yards and three touchdowns.

Unfortunately for the Big Blue Nation, he didn’t improve upon it. He dropped a touchdown pass in the season opener then was quickly passed by Dingle and Kattus.  Surprisingly, he didn’t have a catch last season. Now reunited with Coen and getting tons of reps in the spring it will lead to bigger things in the fall.

Another player to watch in the spring is early enrollee Khamari Anderson, a four-star player out of Detroit. When Luke Fickell left Cincinnati for Wisconsin Vince Marrow swooped in and added another player from the Detroit to Lexington pipeline.

Final Thoughts

Heading into the spring the wide receiver group is one of the brightest spots on the 2023 Wildcat team. The thought of a Coen-led offense headed by Leary has the BBN thinking of some impressive numbers. Remember two years ago Wan’Dale Robinson had the greatest year ever by a Kentucky receiver.

Don’t sleep on the tight end position either. When everyone gets healthy they’ve got a real chance to be productive in 2023.

Thanks for checking out our 2023 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers here at Last Word On College Football. Next time out we’ll look at arguably the most scrutinized group of the team, the offensive line. In addition, we’ll move to the defense starting with the line.

Oct 15, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats tight end Jordan Dingle (85), wide receiver Dane Key (6) and running back JuTahn McClain (17) celebrate during the first quarter against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Kroger Field. Photo Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

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