Kentucky freshman Timmons impresses with versatility

jsmith3@herald-leader.comSeptember 5, 2013 

  • SATURDAY

    Miami (Ohio) at Kentucky

    When: Noon

    Records: Miami (Ohio) 0-1; UK 0-1

    TV: FS South

Ryan Timmons was stretching out his arm, doing everything he could think to do to pick up an extra foot, an extra inch when the football popped loose.

It's hard for the Kentucky freshman's coaches to fault him for that.

"I don't condone fumbling, and we work ball security really hard," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "But I thought he did some good things with the ball in his hands."

The freshman from Frankfort with the eye-popping high school statistics will be a key part of the Wildcats' game plan Saturday as they face Miami (Ohio) in their home opener.

Just walking to class, it would be hard to pick Timmons out of the crowd of other students. He's 5-foot-10, 185 pounds.

He's not too bulky, not too anything.

But he was the player who rushed for 2,688 yards and 45 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Franklin County. In that same span, he also totaled 2,104 yards and 34 touchdowns receiving for the Flyers.

That's two years, nearly 80 touchdowns on offense. It doesn't even account for his special teams scores.

So what makes Timmons special?

Even his new head coach at Kentucky has trouble putting his finger on it.

"He's not maybe exceptionally fast or over-big or anything like that," UK's Mark Stoops said. "He's just a good football player.

"The game, it's not too big to him or anything like that. ... He's just one of those guys. He has good vision, catches the ball well; he's strong. So he does a lot of things good."

And he is willing to stretch for that extra yard, which is what he was trying to get last Saturday when he fumbled in the fourth quarter at Western Kentucky's 28-yard line.

"I was just trying to make the extra play, get more yards, more yards so we could continue the drive and score," said Timmons, who had 33 yards on the ground and one catch for 6 yards in the season opener.

"He's a young guy and he's got to just keep on working and making plays, because he's a play-maker and we need him out there," Stoops said when asked if there were concerns about Timmons' ball security. The coach revealed during fall camp that the freshman "muffed a few" during scrimmages.

"You can't let one play affect more plays," Timmons said Wednesday. "Once I fumbled it, if I keep thinking about that, I'm just going to hurt my team. You've just got to forget about it by making other plays."

It was something that quarterback Maxwell Smith reminded the freshman, too.

"Obviously, he knew he needed to hang on to the ball and that was that," Smith said. "But I told Timmons he's got a tremendous amount of upside and he's got a tremendous amount of talent. We see it out here every day in practice. You guys saw it on that one run.

"He's going to be really good here at Kentucky."

Timmons, who was rated the nation's No. 23 running back by one recruiting service, the 46th-best wide receiver by another and the 28th-best athlete by a third, doesn't care where he plays.

"Doesn't matter," he said. "I just want the ball in my hands. Coach Brown does a great job of mixing things up to get the play-makers the ball."


SATURDAY

Miami (Ohio) at Kentucky

When: Noon

Records: Miami (Ohio) 0-1; UK 0-1

TV: FS South

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com.

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