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  • The Pony Express Will Start to Earn Their Stripes for Good Service


    New wide receiver coach Micheal Smith will have chance to earn his new salary right away. With the graduation of Garrett Johnson, Kayuane Ross Blake Bone and Charles Walker, the Wildcats have only 8 receptions returning to the receiver corps. Veteran Dorian Baker the touchdown maker returns from in received early last season and Tavin Richardson who came on strong late in the 2017 campaign as a play maker. The University of Kentucky has four freshmen wide receivers Isaiah Epps, Joshua Ali, Lynn Bowden, and Clevan Thomas that have shown they are all prepared to make the flight and what other transportation for the game sites. Though in almost every situation they will pluck the ball out of the air but will pony (run) it to and across the goal-line. In every case each of those youngsters came out of big traditional high school programs. Is that always a prerequisite for success at the next level? No, but it often helps. Freshman Allen Dailey enrolled early out of Pinson, Alabama and hopes to join that group.

    Surely a prerequisite in their recruitment was will they get the ball enough to get to the next level (NFL)? Evidently one receiver that took flight to another program didn’t think so. In Coach Mark Stoops’ inaugural press conference, he acquiesced to the “aid raid” philosophy but for those that listened with a third-ear, he made it very clear that he wanted to run the football. And to be success in this league you have to be able to run the pigskin.

    Identity: Last season unfortunately an injury helped him to finally create an identity which is something he’d never had in his era at Kentucky. That identity entails the RPO’s, play-action, the Wildcat, and now run seventy or more plays in the game. When that’s accomplished the receivers will get plenty passes thrown their way. “We extended that (Wildcat Package) tremendously,” Gran stated. “Being in the second year there’s a lot more we’ve been able to do. Knowing the base-offense we’ve been able to get into that sooner.” It would be football-feasible that the receivers will at times be included in that package. So let’s break down the freshmen receivers and their backgrounds.

    Isaiah Epps: This a young man hails from Jenks High School in Jenks, Oklahoma. That school has 2,800 students. How does that parlay into football wins? It starts with tradition which that school is steeped in. They have won sixteen titles over the last three and a half decades. Epps only played football for two years at Jenks. In 2016 he set a receiving record for that school 1,209-yards. So, this among other things caught the UK recruiter’s eye and likewise since being at UK.

    Joshua Ali: This young man is one of those receivers from talent rich Florida that has had a good enough fall camp to get on that but heading to the airport. According to the coaches Ali has shown versatility of being able to play inside and outside. His high school Chaminade-Madonna is voted in the top one-hundred football teams in the country.

    Lynn Bowden: Bowden is one of the more dynamic athletes in the 2017 class of recruits. Big Dog (Vince Marrow) shadowed this guy with his big body so much so no other school could have gotten him to if they tried. Of this class of athletes Bowden has a lot of the fan base almost giddy to see him on the field. Bowden was the runner up for Mr. Football in Ohio. Bowden played at Warren G. Hardin that some say is the most prestigious football program in Ohio. Eddie Gran said this player for the first two weeks of practice never dropped a pass until the second scrimmage when he got “camp legs.” The coach said that after two weeks and not having been here early you could see the effects. “But he will get the juice back in his legs,” Gran said.

    Clevan Thomas: This youngster was a January entrant in school. He deems this to have been an excellent move for his future playing time a true freshman. Thomas came out of Charles W. Flannigan High School in Miami, Florida. The student body numbered 3,168. He is a unique case in that he was a chunky lineman in middle school. His dad told him he wasn’t going to grow into a big tall lineman or basketball player. So he trimmed down and became a wide receiver. That physicality stayed with him. Clevan Thomas Sr. play for Florida State as a defensive back on the 1999 championship team. Thomas had a touchdown pass in the last scrimmage. “He gets open and is physical when he runs the ball,” Gran said. Gran said he had a couple of so, so practices and “All of a sudden the light clicked on.”

    So it is what the coaches want to see out of the young pony’s and now they are in high anticipation of what they will see on the big stage with thousands of fans watching. And if it holds true that the magnitude of the high school program holds true they should perform at a high level.