A peanut butter and jelly relationship for UK’s Bowden and Wilson?
Fifteen players caught passes for the University of Kentucky football team in 2018.
Seems like a robust number, does it not?
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Two of those players were tight ends, two were running backs and one was a quarterback. That means 10 players listed as wide receivers put their hands on passes in games during the Wildcats’ breakout 10-3 season.
Now go deeper.
Two of the wide receivers who caught passes were seniors and will not be back next season. Another, junior Tavin Richardson, announced via Twitter on Wednesday night that he’s also on his way out the door with plans to transfer to another school.
That reduced Kentucky’s list of wide-outs with catches to seven for next season – Lynn Bowden, Josh Ali, Isaiah Epps, Clevan Thomas, Zy’Aire Hughes, Allen Dailey and Akeem Hayes.
Bowden led that crew with 67 catches for 745 yards and five touchdowns in 2018. Next among that group was Ali with 10 receptions for 115 yards and one TD. Epps had eight catches, and no one else had more than three.
Kentucky was last in the Southeastern Conference with 1,978 passing yards yet reached and won a New Year’s Day bowl game on the strength of its running game and dominating defense.
Richardson, a fourth-year junior who was considered a potential breakout performer after catching five passes for 89 yards in the 2017 Music City Bowl, was limited to 13 catches for 114 yards and no scores in 2018.
Do the Wildcats have a looming problem? Not necessarily. But the talent Kentucky does have at wide-out other than Bowden is largely unproven in game situations. That puts pressure on UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and wide receivers coach Michael Smith to continue developing targets for quarterback Terry Wilson this spring and fall.
Among players who did not put up numbers in 2018, transfer Ahmad Wagner showed flashes of potential late in the season. The Cats also redshirted a couple of receivers from their 2018 recruiting class and have signed a pair of wide-outs for 2019.
Overall, Bowden returns as the bell cow, and Kentucky will have to see what starts to develop during spring practice.
Kentucky’s 2019 schedule
Aug. 31: TOLEDO
Sept. 7: EASTERN MICHIGAN
Sept. 14: FLORIDA
Sept. 21: At Mississippi State
Sept. 28: At South Carolina
Oct. 5: Off
Oct. 12: ARKANSAS
Oct. 19: At Georgia
Oct. 26: MISSOURI
Nov. 2: Off
Nov. 9: TENNESSEE
Nov. 16: At Vanderbilt
Nov. 23: TENNESSEE-MARTIN
Nov. 30: LOUISVILLE
NOTE: Home games are in all capital letters. All times and TV details will be announced at later dates.