Led by a new position coach (Pat Washington replaces Tee Martin who left for USC), the wide receivers will turn to a group of seniors looking the make their final mark on the Kentucky football program, while talented underclassmen provide hope for an offense looking for consistency and more explosive plays.
La’Rod King returns for his senior season and is the unquestioned leader of the receiving corps. Possessing good size, at 6-4, and good speed, King is UK’s returning receiver after catching 40 balls for 598 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2011 season. After having an up-and-down spring coaches have been pleased with King’s leadership and play throughout the summer and into fall camp.
Sophomore Demarco Robinson’s name has been mentioned by Head Coach Joker Phillips more than any other receiver since the beginning of spring practice. Coming off of nine catches for 146 yards and two scores in the Blue/White game, Robinson has continued his ascent up the depth chart this fall scoring multiple times in each of the Cats first two scrimmages. Look for Robinson to move around quite a bit and to work out of the slot because of his lack of size (listed at 5-10 and 160 pounds).
Senior E.J. Fields seems to finally be healthy and is benefiting the most in the change of position coaches. After playing quarterback in high school, then sitting out two full years with injuries, Fields has made his way into the starting lineup after mostly contributing on special teams. After catching seven passes for 57 yards and a score against Louisville last season, Fields disappeared and struggled with his confidence throughout the rest of the season. But receivers coach Pat Washington has been able to get rebuild that confidence and Fields has responded during fall camp.
After making a splash during the first two weeks of 2011 training camp and working his way into the starting lineup, freshman Daryl Collins injured his knee and missed the entire season. Fully recovered, Collins participated in spring practice and showed flashes of his big play ability. Look for Collins to play a lot and push for playing time in the slot.
A pair of true freshmen have impressed the coaches throughout fall camp and will get playing time on offense and on special teams. DeMarcus Sweat, from Stephenson High School in Georgia (same high school as Raymond Sanders, Jabari Johnson and Ronnie Shields), combines good size and speed and will make an immediate impact returning kicks. Florida native, A.J. Legree, was a state champion high jumper and coaches have praised him for his strong hands and ability to make contested catches.
Seniors Gene McCaskill and Aaron Boyd will see playing time situationally, but lack the explosiveness to play major minutes. McCaskill has been plagued by knee injuries during his career but can help on 3rd downs from the slot position. Boyd has good size and hands, but lacks the speed to make a major impact.
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