Newcomers make big contributions in Kentucky spring game

broberts@herald-leader.comApril 26, 2014 

Most of the attention during Saturday's Blue-White Spring Game was focused on the three quarterbacks, especially Reese Phillips and Drew Barker, who have never played a down at Kentucky.

They weren't the only high-profile UK newcomers in the scrimmage.

Here's a look at how some of the other players who will make their debuts in the fall fared Saturday:

Braylon Heard: The transfer from Nebraska played with the first team and got the first run attempt of the game. He rushed seven times for 55 yards, including an 18-yard run on fourth down that featured a spin move and a couple of broken tackles.

Heard will be a junior this fall after sitting out last season as a transfer.

"We are awfully excited about Braylon," said Coach Mark Stoops. "He's just got a calmness about him. He always competes, but he's a very mature kid and he's explosive out there. So great to have him."

Mikel Horton: The early enrollee from Ohio was the last of UK's four running backs to get a touch, but he didn't disappoint. Horton ran 13 times for 70 yards and a touchdown, and he did it all against UK's top defenders.

He called Saturday's showing a "big confidence-booster" going into the fall. Running backs coach Chad Scott said it was his best day yet.

"I went against the (first-team defense), and I got off a little bit," Horton said. "So I was like, 'Yeaaaah, I can do this.' They are good. Our defense is top-notch. But I saw that I have the ability to get yards after contact and make them miss and just be a player."

T.V. Williams: The diminutive wide receiver had just one catch for 11 yards — an impressive shoestring grab while running away from the quarterback. Williams — an early enrollee — was one of only two UK punt returners, along with sophomore Ryan Timmons.

Thaddeus Snodgrass: The wide receiver from Ohio was targeted multiple times on deep balls and in the end zone, but none of those passes was completed. He ended up with two catches for 15 yards against the first-string defense.

Stoops said Snodgrass — another early enrollee — "booked it out of there" after the game so he could attend his senior prom in Ohio.

Austin MacGinnis: One of Joker Phillips' last recruits, MacGinnis will be the starting kicker in the fall after redshirting last season.

He missed badly on a 45-yard field goal early in the game but recovered to make a 40-yard field goal — into the wind — with plenty of room to spare. MacGinnis also made all seven of his extra points.

Regie Meant: Another redshirt from last season, Meant was one of the two starting tackles with the first-team defense Saturday. He was credited with four tackles.

"Regie's improved quite a bit over the spring," said defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot. "Regie is a big, long physical guy that can be aggressive at times. And he does have some good athletic ability for his size, he's just got to fine-tune his technique."

A.J. Stamps: An addition from the junior-college ranks, Stamps was one of the first-team defense's starting safeties. He had a touchdown-saving tackle on a run by Josh Clemons and landed a big hit over the middle on Horton — a 236-pound running back.

Eliot is hoping to see more hits like that in the future, preferably against guys who don't play for the Cats.

"I think A.J.'s got the ability to be a good safety in a lot of ways, and that's one of them," he said.

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog:

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