Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky football’s Lynn Bowden must learn patience is a virtue

As a true freshman back in 2008, in his first game as a Kentucky Wildcat, Randall Cobb carried the ball once for two yards and caught three passes for 31 yards in UK’s 27-2 win at Louisville.

Cobb is scheduled to make $13.4 million this year with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.

As a true freshman, in his first game as a Kentucky Wildcat, Benny Snell did not carry the ball a single time in UK’s 44-35 loss to Southern Miss. His first collegiate rushing attempt came in the season’s third game.

Snell finished 2016 with 1,091 rushing yards, a school record for a freshman.

We site these two examples with reference to Lynn Bowden, the true freshman wide receiver and No. 1 recruit in UK’s 2017 rookie class, who was not happy with his lack of playing time in his first college game — UK’s 24-17 win at Southern Miss — and went on Twitter to show it.

Bowden’s Twitter feed is now protected, by the way.

The true freshman did see the field in Hattiesburg, but was not thrown to or afforded a rushing attempt, prompting his postgame gripes on Twitter.

“There’s no issue,” said Stoops at his weekly press luncheon on Monday. “We’ll continue to manage our players. That’s what they pay me to do. We’ll be fine. Lynn’s a good kid, works hard.”

In fact, Stoops’ chalked it up to Bowden’s competitive nature, that talented kids want to play and do well right off the bat. That’s part of what makes them good players.

“It’s not uncommon in general,” said the coach. “I’ve been a lot of places with some very, very talented young men and the competitive nature comes out in kids sometimes and we’ll be fine. There’s no issue at all.”

In Bowden’s case, because of academic responsibilities, he was not on campus this summer. UK was a week into fall practice before Bowden was cleared to participate. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder from Youngstown, Ohio, has been playing catch-up ever since.

The guess here is that he will get his chance and probably soon. UK is coming off a less-than-spectacular offensive showing at Southern Miss. Without running back Boom Williams and speedy wide receiver Jeff Badet — both departed — there are questions about where the Cats will find home-run hitters on offense. Bowden might answer the question.

He’ll only do so, however, when the UK coaching staff thinks he’s ready. Take the Snell example. It was three games before the freshman even touched the football.

“Great example. Great example,” Stoops said. “Wasn’t a factor at all in those first two games and that’s all anybody talked about by the end of the year. It’s a great example and we’ll continue to preach that. We have a good team and they are unselfish.

“Guys — it’s OK to want more playing time — but like I always tell them: Make us play you by your preparation and what you do during the week and how you show up and practice. Don’t give us an opportunity to not play you.”

As for Cobb back in 2008, he’s probably glad now that back then, Twitter wasn’t yet a thing.

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