UK's Mobley, Legree doing what it takes to get on the field

jsmith3@herald-leader.comNovember 26, 2013 

Kentucky Missouri Football

Kentucky running back Dyshawn Mobley, right, eluded Missouri's Randy Ponder last season. Mobley has made 13 tackles on special teams this season.

JEFF ROBERSON — AP

  • Saturday

    Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m.

    Records: UK 2-9 (0-7 SEC), Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

    TV: ESPNU

Every kid has a different motivation for getting into football.

For some it's love of the game.

For others, it's because friends were playing.

For sophomore running back Dyshawn Mobley, who didn't start playing until he was in the eighth grade, it was a different reason.

"I just took it as a chance to hit people for free and not get in trouble," he said in his quiet, reserved way.

His reason for starting football has been a big help for Mobley this season, turning him into a special teams standout.

When the 5-foot-11, 209-pound sophomore learned he was not in the top three on the Cats' depth chart at running back, Mobley tried to find other ways to get on the field.

He spent time getting to know special teams coach Bradley Dale Peveto.

"I just wanted to get on the field and help my team any way possible," Mobley explained.

But a funny thing happened to Mobley this season as he made big play after big play on special teams: It helped him start making plays for the offense, too.

With still one game to play against Tennessee on Saturday, Mobley has 13 tackles and a recovered fumble.

"A lot of times I've seen a guy who has so much success on special teams and all of the sudden he gets a lot of confidence and it carries over into the offensive and defensive sides as well," Peveto said. "It's really a confidence builder for a lot of kids, it's a chance to make their mark, get noticed."

Big hits all season definitely caught the eye of head coach Mark Stoops, who recently quipped that he told offensive coordinator Neal Brown that he was stealing the running back and putting him on defense if he didn't start getting a few more carries.

"I would love to have him on defense," Stoops said at the time.

When asked about it more recently, the head coach dialed back his desire to steal Mobley for defensive purposes.

"That's a compliment, to me, when you're just simply saying he's a good football player and we need to find a way to get him on the field," Stoops explained.

"He's got a great desire. He's got a great desire to get down there. He's playing with a lot of energy and a lot of toughness, and it's great to see."

Mobley, who did play some linebacker at Powell High School in Tennessee, doesn't mind discussing the switch.

"Like I told the coach, I'll play any position," he said on Tuesday. "I'll play all of them to get on the field."

But lately, especially after a 69-yard touchdown run at Georgia, Brown has had plenty of reasons to get into a tug-of-war with the defensive coaches over Mobley.

"It took him awhile to kind of figure out his role and to really get a good feel of what we're trying to do in this offense," Brown said recently of the running back, whom he said he'd like to see get better in pass protection. "I think he has that now, and he gives us a different running style."

Coaches also are hoping that gaining some confidence with good special teams play will help propel wide receiver A.J. Legree, who has had limited touches this season (five catches for 51 yards), to a more pivotal role within the offense next season.

"He's practicing a lot better," Brown said recently of the 6-1, 189-pound receiver from Florida. "His confidence really grew on how he performed on special teams. He's really done some nice things for us on special teams and gained some confidence and he's brought that to offense."

Legree, who also played corner and safety in high school, has been a star on special teams this season with 10 tackles, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble.

The sophomore seems happy to be contributing in whatever way he can, despite the fewer catches. He had 12 catches for 113 yards last season.

"The thing about football is it doesn't change," Legree said. "Wherever you're at (on the field) just play hard and try to make a play on the field."

That's what Peveto likes about Legree and Mobley.

And even if they become big-time play makers for the offense and defense, he hopes they'll continue to be special teams leaders.

"They've both been very, very good," he said. "They're very instinctive. They give incredible effort and they play with really good technique on special teams."

Notes

■ At his final pre-game news conference of the season, Coach Mark Stoops said both Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow were able to practice at quarterback on Tuesday, but they were both "a little nicked up."

■ Stoops said he has made a decision about whether running back Raymond Sanders will participate in his Senior Night activities with the rest of the seniors, but the coach said he was not ready to divulge that decision.

"I don't want to get into it right now," Stoops said. "I haven't had enough time to talk to everybody involved, so I'd rather just stay away from that."


Saturday

Tennessee at Kentucky

When: 7 p.m.

Records: UK 2-9 (0-7 SEC), Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

TV: ESPNU

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

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