The only Kentucky Wildcat that isn’t in town for the start of fall training camp is arguably the one that UK fans are most excited to see on the field this season.
Lynn Bowden — the top recruit in the Wildcats’ class of 2017 — isn’t on campus yet, Mark Stoops said Sunday, but the UK coach said he is expected to be in Lexington later this week.
Vince Marrow, the program’s recruiting guru and the primary recruiter on Bowden, also didn’t show any concern about the star prospect’s future with the team during an interview with the Herald-Leader on Sunday afternoon.
“Like Coach Stoops said, he’ll be here,” Marrow said. “He never said he’d be here today.”
Stoops acknowledged at the beginning of UK’s media day Sunday that Bowden’s absence was due to “academic eligibility” and implied that he has not yet been approved by the NCAA clearinghouse.
Marrow said the same.
“He’s just finishing up a (summer) course, the last part of it, and it just so happens that it doesn’t fall into the time where this was starting,” he told the Herald-Leader. “But he’ll be here. He’ll be here.”
Bowden — a 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect from Youngstown, Ohio — was the jewel of the Cats’ 2017 recruiting class and is expected to be a major contributor to UK’s offense this season. He’s listed as a wide receiver but is also capable of playing running back and the Wildcat quarterback position.
Marrow said Sunday that Bowden should be able to help “immediately” as a kickoff and punt returner. The shifty, dynamic runner is hard to handle in the open field, and it’s that ability that has UK fans — and coaches — excited about what he can bring to the team’s offense this season.
“He’ll be ready,” Marrow said.
Bowden was ranked by ESPN and Scout.com as one of the country’s top 100 recruits for the 2017 class. He was the runner-up for Mr. Football honors in Ohio last fall, running for 2,277 yards and passing for 1,366 yards. He accounted for 57 total touchdowns as a senior.
Scout.com analyst Bill Greene spoke to the Herald-Leader about Bowden’s late arrival to UK this summer, and how it might affect him once he gets to campus.
“He’ll be fine,” Greene said. “He is just a special athlete. He’s one of those kids that he’s always going to be in shape. I wouldn’t be worried at all. He’s the kind of guy that can roll out of bed at 5 in the morning and run a 4.4 40 (yard dash). I imagine he probably got there in great shape and if he’s not, he’ll work himself into shape real quick. I’d be just thrilled to finally get him on campus.”
Marrow also noted that Bowden is the type of player who stays in shape and shouldn’t have any problem with the physical aspect of the transition from high school to college football.
The UK recruiting coordinator touted Bowden’s maturity and competitiveness as a football player — two more areas, he said, that would help him make that transition quickly after missing the program’s summer workouts.
Marrow is also well aware of the lofty fan expectations surrounding Bowden, and he didn’t let his star recruit’s belated arrival to fall camp temper those feelings.
“I’m not going to be shocked if he does some of the things that the fans think he’s going to do, because that’s basically who he is,” he said. “Just let him get here and then the rest will take care of itself. Trust me on that.”