Jen Smith on UK Football

Practice report: Bowden swimming, Barker throwing and twisting and other movement

Drew Barker looks like the old Drew Barker

Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw say quarterback Drew Barker looks like he did before his back injury. Barker agrees and talks about what he's working on.
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Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw say quarterback Drew Barker looks like he did before his back injury. Barker agrees and talks about what he's working on.

There might be four stars next to his name and he might be one of the best players out of the state of Ohio, but Lynn Bowden is just like most freshmen who arrive on campus for preseason camp: A work in progress.

Offensive coordinator Eddie Gran said of the wide receiver who was cleared by the NCAA on Friday — a week after the start of camp — that Bowden was wading into a deep pool.

“He’s swimming right now,” Gran said at his weekly meeting with the media. “He is just trying to learn the offense. He’s athletic, he can catch the ball. Just what we thought. He’s trying to get six practices in one. That’s really hard. We’re going to have to bring him along.”

There was talk about veteran Garrett Johnson’s ability to play both inside and outside wide receiver spots, potentially freeing up extra reps at the inside wide out spot for a player like Bowden.

Bowden, a 6-foot, 190-pound athlete who played multiple spots at Warren Harding High School, including quarterback, is still learning the nuances of his spot at wide receiver, Gran added.

“He’s got to learn that craft first,” Gran said.” When he learns that craft, then we can start bringing him in and doing some other things with him. But one thing at a time. We’ve got a long season ahead of us.”

The team will have its first scrimmage on Saturday at the stadium and Gran is especially eager to see what the team looks like at running back. “Saturday’s gonna be our first one where – you don’t know if it’s a broken tackle, you don’t know if he’s running through or not, you don’t know if he’s making him miss — so Saturday’s gonna be a big day for our running backs,” he said.

At the quarterback spot, Gran said the Drew Barker the coaches saw before he had the back injury is the one that is in preseason camp now. “That’s been really encouraging,” Gran said. “Coach Hinshaw is doing a great job of doing grasp drills: Some stuff where he’s throwing and twisting and getting on the ground without him getting hit. It’s been really good so far.” As for Stephen Johnson, Gran said he’s seen marked improvement in the quarterback’s intermediate passes. “Hitting those better, on stride, not behind them,” he said.

A few tidbits came out as far as position battles and other things on the offensive side of the ball, including Mason Wolfe moving from offensive tackle to guard, including some action at fourth-team center. … Wide receiver Kayaune Ross has been working with the first team some and Blake Bone stood out to Gran on Tuesday. “That to me showed that he’s gonna compete,” the offensive coordinator said. “With those guys, they’re all gonna get the same type of reps. It’s just a matter of who can we count on when it’s time to make a play.”

With Kentucky's starting right guard Nick Haynes battling diabetes, junior George Asafo-Adjei has filled in and had a good fall camp, according to the coaches.

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