La'Rod King leading young UK receiving corps

Junior charged with getting young receivers ready

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJuly 17, 2011 

  • Top UK receivers in 2010

    Player G Rec. Yds. Avg. TD Long Avg./G

    Randall Cobb 13 84 1,017 12.1 7 48 78.2

    Chris Matthews 13 61 925 15.2 9 55 71.2

  • La'Rod King 13 36 478 13.3 5 47 36.8

Sometimes it's easier to catch a few ZZZZ's than a few extra passes.

Kentucky receiver La'Rod King knows what it's like to be a freshman in college.

He knows the temptations and remembers them well.

"I'm going to sit home, chill, watch TV, sleep and eat snacks or something," King recalled of his own routine.

But with UK needing to replace its top two receivers, who accounted for nearly 2,000 yards and 16 touchdown catches last season, King knows this year's class of young receivers has to resist those temptations.

It's why the junior always has his mouth running and his thumbs pounding.

"I'm texting them constantly," he said of the young receiving corps. "We want everybody on the same page. ... If you're not on them, they don't know what to do."

The 6-foot-4 receiver from North Hardin knows that with the departures of Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews, it could be his year as the top receiver.

His five touchdowns are the most for any returning player on UK's roster. Last season, he caught 36 passes for 478 yards.

But as much as he relishes the idea of being a go-to receiver this season, he also wants to be a go-to leader.

"I've told the team we're only as good as our weakest receiver and I don't want to be known as the No. 1 receiver, just as the go-to guy," he said. "Everyone's the No. 1 receiver in my eyes."

The fast-talking junior said he tries to lead by example.

"No more, 'I'm still a young guy learning,' " he explained. "I'm not going to let anybody outwork me. If I take that attitude to the field, more people are going to follow with me."

Cats Coach Joker Phillips admitted the wide receiver position is an area of concern.

"We don't have as much experience at that position," Phillips said. "But really, we're excited about what's walked through the door."

Players such as Daryl Collins, DeMarco Robinson and Nile Daniel to name a few.

They all have potential. Robinson set a Georgia state record with 1,655 yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior season. Daniel reportedly has been clocked at 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

But even those guys need to be brought up to college speed quickly.

That's where the veterans come in.

Quarterback Morgan Newton has done his part, trying to set up seven-on-seven drills with the new players even before camp starts at the end of the summer.

"We're just trying to speed the process along with some of the young guys, seeing who can help us out this year," Newton said.

That's where vets such as King come in.

"You think you're going hard, I'm going to be the one to push you to that next level," he said of the newbies.

There seems to be less of a learning curve with this group of receivers than those in years past, Phillips said.

"Those young receivers are truly wide receivers," the head coach said. "They're not guys we have to teach the position. We've just got to teach them plays."

The five wide receivers that came in with Cobb had to learn how to be receivers, Phillips continued.

"We had to teach them how to carry themselves like receivers because they'd been quarterbacks for so long," Phillips said.

The upperclassmen are doing their part to get the young receivers ready for the season opener against Western Kentucky on Sept. 1.

The young receivers definitely have caught the attention of their teammates, including the ones on the other side of the ball.

"All of them look real good," senior cornerback Randall Burden said. "Just about every new receiver we have is pretty good off the line, and they can catch, so that's a good sign."

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