Sidelines with John Clay

Jeff Badet’s surprise departure a blow for Kentucky football

Kentucky wide receiver Jeff Badet runs for yardage in the second half of UK’s 41-38 win over Louisville on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville.
Kentucky wide receiver Jeff Badet runs for yardage in the second half of UK’s 41-38 win over Louisville on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. Lexington Herald-Leader

In an announcement that came out of the blue Friday morning, Kentucky football announced that wide receiver Jeff Badet is leaving the program to be a graduate transfer.

“I want to thank all the coaches, especially Coach Stoops, for everything they’ve done for me over the past four years,” Badet said in a statement. “I also want to thank my brothers on the team and the Big Blue Nation for their support. I just feel like it’s the best decision for me to finish my career as a graduate transfer. I’ll always be proud of receiving my degree from UK and I’ll bleed blue forever.”

The news can’t be seen as anything but a significant and unexpected blow to the Cats, who are coming off a 7-6 season with a bowl appearance for the first time since 2010, plus enough expected returnees for genuine optimism for 2017.

Badet was surely thought to be one of those returnees. One of the fastest players on the team, he caught 31 passes for 670 yards, a 21.6-yard average per catch, with four touchdowns last season. In his career, Badet caught 82 passes for 1,386 yards for an average of 16.9 yards per reception. He had seven career touchdown catches. He redshirted in 2014 after suffering a preseason eye injury.

The Florida native also made big catches. After having a heart-to-heart with head coach Mark Stoops, Badet caught seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns in UK’s 40-38 win over Mississippi State at Commonwealth Stadium. He came back the next week to grab three passes for 104 yards and a score in the 35-21 win at Missouri. Badet caught a 65-yard scoring pass from quarterback Stephen Johnson in that game.

Down the stretch, Badet caught four passes for 52 yards in UK’s 41-38 win over Louisville and three passes for 31 yards in the 33-18 loss to Georgia Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

His 31 catches last season ranked second on the team behind Garrett Johnson, who caught 39 passes for 585 yards. But Badet’s 670 receiving yards led the team, as did his average of 51.5 yards per game.

Luckily, Kentucky figures to have good depth at the wide receiver position in 2017. Ryan Timmons (23 catches in 2016) was the only senior at the position.

Johnson should be back next season, along with Dorian Baker (14 catches in 10 games), Tavin Richardson (9), Blake Bone (5) and Charles Walker (four). Baker’s 2016 season was curtailed by injuries. Richardson and Bone will need to step up in 2017. Walker, who handled punt returns, might be seen in a more prominent role next season.

Still, Badet’s departure counts as an early loss. There’s no way around it.

Jeff Badet’s game-by-game career receiving stats

Date

Opponent

Rec

Yards

TD

9/7/13

Miami (O)

3

80

1

9/14/13

Louisville

3

44

0

10/5/13

@S. Carolina

1

1

0

11/2/13

Alabama St.

4

48

0

11/9/13

Missouri

2

25

0

11/16/13

@Vandy

2

17

0

11/23/13

@Georgia

1

23

0

11/30/13

Tennessee

6

47

0

9/5/15

UL-Lafayette

1

37

1

9/12/15

@S. Carolina

4

62

0

9/19/15

Florida

1

45

0

9/26/15

Missouri

1

7

0

10/3/15

E. Kentucky

4

59

1

10/15/15

Auburn

5

67

0

10/24/15

@Miss. St.

3

19

0

10/31/15

Tennessee

3

29

0

11/7/15

@Georgia

1

16

0

11/14/15

@Vandy

2

50

0

11/21/15

Charlotte

4

39

0

9/3/16

Southern Miss

2

72

1

9/10/16

@Florida

1

45

0

9/17/16

New Mexico St.

3

89

0

9/24/16

S .Carolina

2

39

0

10/8/16

Vanderbilt

2

8

0

10/22/16

Miss. St.

7

139

2

10/29/16

@Missouri

3

104

1

11/5/16

Georgia

2

34

0

11/12/16

@Tennessee

1

15

0

11/19/16

Austin Peay

1

42

0

11/26/16

@Louisville

4

52

0

12/31/16

vs. Ga. Tech

3

31

0

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