UK football notes: Receivers getting healthy in time for game

jsmith3@herald-leader.comApril 25, 2014 


UK running back Ryan Timmons picked up yardage after a reception in the fourth quarter. The University of Kentucky Football team hosted the University of Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer


After a spring of some strange injuries and surgeries, Kentucky got some good news in time for Saturday's Blue-White Spring Game.

A few of the wide receivers that were questionable to play because of bumps and bruises probably will be on the field, including Ryan Timmons.

"We'll have a legitimate two-deep tomorrow," said offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who was having to run routes with several other UK staff members to make sure the quarterbacks got enough work in this week.

Monday, there were loads of questions about whether UK would have enough wide-outs available to stage a legitimate scrimmage.

Timmons, who hurt his shoulder and was wearing a no-contact red jersey this week, will be available.

"I'm excited about" that, Brown said of Timmons, the Cats' second-leading receiver last season. "He's had a really good spring."

Early enrollee Thaddeus Snodgrass (pulled muscle) has been cleared to play as has walk-on Joey Herrick.

The Cats will still be without leading receiver Javess Blue, who missed the spring after having shoulder surgery for a spill during winter workouts, and Alexander Montgomery, who tore a ligament in his knee late last season.

Jeff Badet, who broke his right fibula Monday, will be out, and junior A.J. Legree opted to transfer this week.

Other scholarship wide receivers that might take the Commonwealth Stadium field Saturday include Demarco Robinson, Rashad Cunningham and T.V. Williams.

Walk-on wide-outs like Herrick, Cameron Fogle and Miles Thompson also were mentioned Friday as options.

"We'll be thin, but they'll get a lot of reps," wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord said. "I'm anxious to see guys with a lot of reps, who can play tired, who can play in different positions and adjust when things are on the run."

UK sees the shortage of wide receivers as a way to prepare players for what game days on Saturdays in the fall might be like.

"If we've got an injury over here, we're going to move somebody out there that gives us our best chance," Mainord said. "I'm excited about the opportunity to see how their mental toughness is and lasting that long. We're going to try and play fast, try to play our game plan, so it will be fun."

Kicker, punter set

To avoid injuries, UK will have limited kicking situations in the spring game. Little live kicking has been done in spring practices, but new special teams coach Craig Naivar seemed set on the Cats' place-kicker and punter.

Two-year starter Landon Foster, who averaged 41.3 yards last season and placed 15 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line, will be the Cats' punter again.

Redshirt freshman Austin MacGinnis, one of the highest-rated kickers in the country in 2012, will take over the kicking duties from Joe Mansour.

"It's Austin's job; he's done a really good job," Naivar said. "We've put him in a couple extreme pressure situations with 19 guys draped around him. It's not a real scenario, but he likes that. ... We haven't done any live kickoffs, but all spring he's done really good on his kickoffs."

Naivar called the decision to limit special teams in the scrimmage smart and safe.

"We've done a lot of good fundamental work," he said of the spring. "We've got a good fundamental base in, but as that goes on, there's no reason to run down on a kickoff in spring and get a guy dinged up, or get a guy banged up."

'We're the show in town, in the state'

Lost in the nearly 12 minutes of talking to offensive coordinator Neal Brown — none of which was about the quarterbacks, per his request — was a little shot at the Cats' rival down the road.

When asked about the import of the Blue-White Spring Game to recruiting, Brown said "it's huge," adding that UK's recruiting really soared after 51,000 showed up for last season's game at Commonwealth Stadium.

It's one of the first things he mentions to recruits still, a year later.

"There's no NBA team; there's no major league baseball team ... there's no NFL team," Brown said.

"So UK athletics is it. The other team doesn't want to hear that, but it's it. I mean we're the show in town, in the state."

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

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