Kentucky's much-celebrated recruiting class of 2014 didn't waste much time showing what it could do on the football field.
Twelve of the 24 players who made their debut for the Wildcats in Saturday's 59-14 win over Tennessee-Martin were part of that 2014 class.
Several of those newcomers came up with big plays in the blowout.
"I feel like the 2014 class isn't hype anymore," said defensive tackle Matt Elam, one of the highest-ranked players in UK's highest-ranked recruiting class ever.
Freshman running back Stanley "Boom" Williams was the first Wildcat to touch the ball, returning the opening kickoff 24 yards. Williams also had the Cats' first carry of the season: a 6-yard run on the third play from scrimmage.
Fellow freshman running back Mikel Horton ran for two touchdowns and was second on the team with seven rushing attempts and 46 yards on the ground.
Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops was pleased with how well the young players did.
"You can see the ability of some of the guys that we've been talking about, all the freshman running backs, the freshman wide receivers looked very poised out there and made some good plays," he said.
Blake Bone was the first of UK's highly touted group of new wide receivers to find the end zone. The 6-foot-5 freshman took a short pass from Patrick Towles and turned it into a 29-yard score. A little later, he caught a jump ball for a 36-yard gain despite a defensive pass interference call.
"It's one of the reasons why they recruited me," Bone said. "I'm a playmaker. If the ball's in the air it's basically mine, and that's the mindset they're trying to teach me to have."
Dorian Baker, Garrett Johnson and T.V. Williams all made multiple catches. Preferred walk-on Charles Walker played, too.
T.V. Williams took a quick pass for 3 yards in the fourth quarter. Later in the fourth quarter, Williams beat his man one-on-one in the slot and caught a pass for a 42-yard gain.
Horton, the big freshman running back lost 1 yard on his first carry, but he showed why he was so highly ranked as a recruit later on. On the Cats' final drive of the first half, Horton rumbled 18 yards for his first college touchdown. He was hit near the line of scrimmage, bounced off the defender, turned to the right side and beat another defender to the end zone.
He scored on a 14-yard touchdown around the left side in the fourth quarter. Horton also played on special teams.
The new additions on defense might have been even more impressive.
Junior-college safety A.J. Stamps tied for the team lead with eight tackles and four solo tackles. He added one-handed interception early in the game and a couple of highlight-reel worthy hits on UT-Martin ball carriers.
"That's something you do as a kid," he said of the one-handed snag. "I was out there practicing my one-handed catches before the game. It's just something you have to be prepared for."
Freshman nickel back Kendall Randolph was all over the place on defense and special teams. He had four solo tackles, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble (that was returned for a UK touchdown by Khalid Henderson) and two quarterback hits.
Junior-college linebacker Ryan Flannigan played early and often in his first game with the Wildcats. He tied for the third-most tackles on the team with six, including three solos.
Elam, the former John Hardin High School standout, made his much-anticipated UK debut on the first play of the third defensive series.
He got his first tackle on the next series, a nice one-handed stop while being blocked by the UT-Martin center.
Elam played 11 consecutive snaps during one UT-Martin possession in the second half and was in for a total of 18 snaps on the day. The Skyhawks often assigned two linemen to block Elam, but they couldn't move the big UK freshman.
He finished with two tackles.
Junior-college defensive tackle C.J. Johnson made an impact on his first play as a Wildcat. Johnson busted through the UT-Martin line and nailed quarterback Jarod Neal just as Neal got rid of the ball on third down of the Skyhawks' first series. The pass was incomplete, and UT-Martin was forced to punt.
"We came in with the expectation to play," Randolph said. "That's the demeanor we wanted to bring in as a class — just to show how much the program has changed and how much of an impact we plan on making. ... And we did exactly what we said we were going to do."
■ Freshman wide receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass was among the class of 2014 signees who did not dress for Saturday's opener. Stoops said after the game that Snodgrass "tweaked a hamstring" earlier in the week and might be redshirted this season.
■ Twelve other players saw their first action as Wildcats on Saturday: Redshirt freshmen Nick Haynes, Jacob Hyde, Austin MacGinnis, Kyle Meadows, Regie Meant, Ramsey Meyers, Cole Mosier, Reese Phillips and Miles Thompson; sophomore Jeff Witthuhn and juniors Braylon Heard and Melvin Lewis.