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2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers

2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers

One Of The Strongest Groups On The Team

Hello everyone and welcome back to the third in our series looking at the 2024 Kentucky Football team. In case you missed them we started with Brock Vandagriff and the quarterbacks. That was followed the running backs. Today we finish up the skill positions and the wide receivers. Unlike the other positions this group has most of its experience coming back. Let’s break it down with our 2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers. We’re also looking at the tight ends as well.

Goodbye And Good Luck

First thing we should mention is the Wildcats have a new man coaching the receivers. Daikiel Shorts took the reigns from Scott Woodward back in December. As we mentioned before with the exception of one player UK didn’t lose much experience.

Tayvion Robinson is off to the NFL Draft after using up all his college eligibility. During his two years in Lexington Robinson hauled in 81 passes for 1,049 yards and seven touchdowns. In addition to Robinson the Cats lost a couple of other receivers. Dekel Crowdus and Cole Lanter, who saw little action, left the program.

As we continue with our 2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers let’s look at the guys catching passes from Vandagriff.

Taking A Step Forward

After good freshman campaigns Barion Brown and Dane Key struggled somewhat during their second year. While it’s wasn’t exactly a “sophomore slump” they and all the receivers lacked consistency. Many times they seemingly weren’t on the same page with then quarterback Devin Leary. Furthermore there were issues with dropped passes. However both finished strong in 2023 only hyping expectations for 2024.

Brown led the team with 43 receptions. He was tied for second in touchdowns with four and third in yards with 539. He had his best games of the year in the Wildcats’ last two games. Against Louisville he had 48 yards receiving but made a huge impact on special teams. Brown took a kickoff 100 yards to the house giving the Cats a much needed boost. Finally during the Gator Bowl loss to Clemson Brown totaled three touchdowns, one rushing, receiving and another kick off return.

Key led the team with 636 yards and six touchdowns. In addition he was second with 42 receptions. His biggest game of the year came in a loss to Tennessee where he had seven catches for 113 yards and one touchdown. He also finished the season on a strong note hauling in four passes for 83 yards and a score. For Kentucky and new offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan’s offense to flourish those two must have big years. So far in spring practice he’s one of the names being talked about quite a bit.

Continuing on with our 2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers let’s look at some incoming players for the Cats.

Instant Impact Transfers

With Robinson graduating UK hit the transfer portal hard looking for a replacement. Ja’Mori Maclin heads to Lexington from North Texas. A season ago Maclin had 57 receptions for 1,004 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was one of 24 players in 2023 to top 1,000 yards and starts the season in Robinson’s slot receiver position.

Two other transfers looking for playing time are Raymond Cottrell and Fred Farrier. Appearing in three games at Texas A&M last year Cottrell only had one reception. However it went for 13 yards and a touchdown. A Kentucky native, Farrier hauled in 18 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown for UAB.

Time to finish up our 2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers by looking at some other guys pushing for playing time.

Pushing The Starters

While a couple of players left, the Wildcats have several players coming back for 2024 adding depth to the room. First on the list is Anthony Brown-Stephens, who caught five passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. Shamar Porter, the top ranked player in Kentucky’s 2022 class, is back on campus after putting his name in the transfer portal. He along with Ardell Banks and Brandon White look to break into the rotation. Incoming freshman Hardley Gilmore from Pahokee, Florida is an early enrollee looking to jump start his UK career.

Looking For More Production

The Big Blue Nation has heard for years that tight ends will be a bigger priority. However it never seems to work out that way. Hamdan says Vince Marrow’s group is vital to his offense. UK lost Brenden Bates to graduation and Izayah Cummings transferred to Louisville. With those two gone your likely starters are Jordan Dingle and Josh Kattus. Both juniors, Dingle recorded 12 receptions for 270 yards. If you are scoring at home that’s a whopping 22 yards per catch. Kattus took in eight passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

Behind those two Khamari Anderson and Tanner LeMaster are your backups. Anderson only had one catch in 2023, however it was a huge 11 yard gain in the Louisville contest. LeMaster is a redshirt freshman from. The Cats do have Willie Rodriguez coming in from Kentucky power house Covington Catholic. However he won’t be on campus until summer.

Final Thoughts

As we mentioned earlier, Kentucky has arguably one of the strongest groups in the SEC. They simply need to take that next step in their development. If Maclin can put up similar numbers at Kentucky as he did at North Texas then Vandagriff has a bevy of weapons to throw to.

Thanks for checking out our 2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers here at Last Word On College Football. Next time around we’ll look at the big guys up front on offense and

2024 Kentucky Spring Preview: Receivers
Photo courtesy: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

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