The Kentucky Football team is settling into Nashville ahead of Saturday’s Music City Bowl, and for a handful of Wildcats, it’s good to be home. Saturday’s game will be a homecoming for five Kentucky players, including a trio of freshmen playmakers, wide receiver Barion Brown, quarterback Destin Wade, and outside linebacker Keaten Wade. Brown and Keaten Wade spoke with reporters after today’s practice at Vanderbilt’s indoor facility, their eyes lighting up when talking about playing in their hometown.
“Very excited,” Brown said. “Just knowing I get an opportunity to play in front of some of my family and friends that don’t get to make it to Kentucky, are not able to drive, can’t go out of the state, it’s just a blessing. Our Lord, always, just a blessing He’s allowing me to play in front of my family and friends.”
“I’m very excited,” Wade said. “Just knowing everybody in the stands, all my family and friends coming, it’s just really special to play in this bowl and play in my hometown.
Wade said he’s already fulfilled all of his ticket requests, but Brown is still on the hunt. The former Pearl-Cohn standout is Kentucky’s leading receiver with 45 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns. He has 424 more yards and a touchdown on kickoff returns, and 28 yards as a punt returner. He’s expecting a huge crowd of friends and family at Nissan Stadium.
“Ask anybody on the team, I’ve been begging for tickets,” Brown said. “All around friends just asking for tickets. I’m trying my best to get as many tickets as I can.”
Brown and Wade have history at Nissan Stadium
This won’t be the first time Barion and Wade have been on the field at Nissan Stadium. Brown’s pee-wee team got to play during halftime of a Titans game and the Wade brothers’ pee-wee team got to go out on the field during the Music City Bowl many, many years ago.
“When I was 7 and 8, they let us play at the Titans halftime,” Brown said. “I wanted to score so bad but I didn’t get to score. Just knowing I get another opportunity to score in an NFL stadium, one of my dreams, man, honestly, it just feels good. I’m blessed. Just working hard, trying to stay on the right path, hopefully.”
“This is my first time playing so I’m going to be really excited,” Wade said. “Fun fact, I watched the Music City Bowl back when I was pee-wee and I’d get to go out on the field so it’s kind of a full-circle thing. I get to play here my freshman year, so it’s pretty cool.”
Brown is getting used to the expectations that come with being one of the program’s young stars. This week, he’s trying to manage the excitement and pressure that comes with playing in front of his friends and family too.
“Just making sure I play my game. Everybody knows I want to have a show in front of my hometown, but just making sure I’m staying on my game, I’m going at the pace of the game, not trying to rush things or getting mad that I’m not getting the ball. Just staying in the game, making sure my head’s on. I do have a family I’m trying to put on for, so just making sure I’m doing the little things right, and then the big things will come.”
Brown and Wade’s Nashville recommendations
There are a million things to do in Nashville these days. Brown kept it simple with his advice for fans making the trip.
“I’m just telling them to go downtown,” Brown said. “Go to Broadway. Go have fun. Be safe.”
When it comes to restaurants, both were a little more specific.
“Ruth’s Chris [Steak House],” Brown said. “I honestly don’t even eat there but it should be good.”
“My favorite brunch restaurant is Hampton Social. It’s got good breakfast food. That’s the type of guy I am, I like breakfast.”
Wade’s go-to order?
“An omelet with hashbrowns and some apple juice.”
Wade-to-Brown: A celebration handshake years in the making
With Will Levis opting out, Kentucky will have a new quarterback under center. According to our own Ryan Lemond, Destin Wade will get the nod as the starter, although all three backups — Wade, Kaiya Sheron, and Deuce Hogan — were listed together on the depth chart. In the few minutes of practice we got to watch, Wade was running with the ones, another sign he’ll be featured prominently on Saturday. Keaten, who played in all 12 games this season, is excited to see his brother finally get a chance to showcase his talent.
“I’ve seen him get better. He just keeps working hard every day out there after practice, keeps throwing it. I’m just proud of him to see how far he’s come and just using his talents for God’s glory.”
Brown admitted he will miss Levis under center — “I love Will to death” — but cannot wait to play alongside Wade, his “brother for life.”
“The things I’ve been seeing since I met him, honestly,” Brown said of what he’s seen from Destin Wade during bowl prep. “We played 7-on-7, worked out a couple of times, great quarterback. Love him. That’s my brother for life. Love Destin. Love you, Destin.”
The two even have a handshake ready if/when a Wade-to-Brown touchdown occurs.
“Oh, that’s going to be great. We’ve already got our handshake ready. We’ve been having this handshake for so long.”
“About two [years].”
Please let this happen.