Kentucky receivers playing at a level "we haven't seen around here in a while"

Kentucky receivers playing at a level "we haven't seen around here in a while"

Jack Pilgrim7 months

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Aritcle written by:Jack PilgrimJack Pilgrim
2021 UK Football Spring PracticePhoto by Jacob Noger | UK Football
<small>Jacob Noger | UK Football</small>
[caption id="attachment_344410" align="alignnone" width="2560"] Jacob Noger | UK Football[/caption] Heading into the spring, the Kentucky football program had as many as 18 scholarship wide receivers on the roster, with 14 already on campus and another four ready to join the program this summer when the entire 2021 recruiting class heads to Lexington. As spring practice ramped up, attrition began, as receivers Allen Dailey Jr., Bryce Oliver, Akeem Hayes and Kalil Branham all left the program, leaving 'just' 14 on the roster going into the 2021 season. At the time of the departures, head coach Mark Stoops wasn't bothered with the turnover. In fact, he welcomed it. "We need production. ... We need to get better. There’s no denying that," Stoops said March 20. "We’ve gotta take some steps forward. You do that by replacing. You do that by recruiting. You do that by developing the guys you have each day and we’re working hard. "... I appreciate all the guys and what they’ve done. Turnover’s going to happen. There’s going to be more. We have to actually. We gotta turn this roster over a little bit. We’ll continue to compete." After seeing the dust settle this week, Stoops is "very pleased" with the offensive production, adding that the ball is moving down the field better than it has in "years."

"Very pleased. It's hard to contain my enthusiasm right now," Stoops said. "We just got off the practice field here this morning and I can't wait to get back out there Saturday because things are really going in the right direction. ... I know we got the ball down the field today better than we have in years."

A big reason for that? Growth at the wide receiver position, specifically at the top of the depth chart with standout pass-catchers Wan'Dale Robinson and Josh Ali. "Wan'Dale (Robinson) and Josh (Ali) are playing at a very high level, a level we haven't seen around here in a while," Stoops said. "Very, very efficient, those two guys are kind of feeding off of each other. They're excited about what they're seeing, there's a lot of opportunities for them, and they're making plays. You feel those two guys in every drill we do, so that's been very good." And production won't be limited to just Robinson and Ali. According to Stoops, Kentucky's trio of standout tight ends, along with a handful of up-and-coming wideouts are all turning heads in practice. "We're deep, we've got three tight ends that are playmaking-type tight ends. You've got Josh, you've got Wan'Dale," Stoops said. "It's really nice to see Clevan (Thomas). Clevan has been really working hard and he's really starting to make an impact, playing multiple positions, he's showing up. Isaiah Epps, he's coming off that foot (injury), we haven't had him at full strength for a few years. He's a guy that brings us really good speed. Obviously (Michael) Drennen, we've got to continue bringing him along. He's been out with a couple little medical things, but he's a guy that really has great top-end speed, as well. Of course, Izayah Cummings, we're bringing him along. Tae Tae (Crumes) showed up today, toward the end of practice he caught a deep pass. I've been waiting to see him emerge because he's got the speed we've been missing. It was great to see Tae Tae make some plays for us. "We've got a lot of guys, guys coming in. There's quite a bit of depth out there."

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