LaRod King likes UK's new freshmen

LaRod King remembers what it was like trying to play receiver in the Southeastern Conference as a true freshman coming out of North Hardin High School.

LaRod King remembers what it was like trying to play receiver in the Southeastern Conference as a true freshman coming out of North Hardin High School.

However, King, now a junior, likes what he sees from the six true freshman receivers now at Kentucky based on summer workouts.

"They are all great. I can't single out one really. They all have passion for the game and they all came out here catching balls from the start," said King, UK's top returning receiver. :Usually I text them like, ‘Are you there?' I come here and they are already catching balls and ahead of me. That's what I?like to see.

"There are a couple of guys I've had to get on and make sure they go to class and everything. Coming from high school, they are stepping into the real world. I have told them if they have passion for the game I will help you get to that next level and lead you through what the coaches have taught me and what Randall (Cobb) has taught me. Chris Matthews and all the guys have taught me. We will apply that and I will bring them in."

While the freshmen have been "willing learners" this summer, King says he doesn't think "anybody tops me" and how much he wanted to learn and succeed when he arrived at UK.

"But they are hungry. Being coachable is the key thing here to being successful in this league. If you are not coachable, you are not going to play period and they are all coachable, or have been so far,"?King said.

"With all the freshmen, you are going to be surprised. I will leave it to the season to see who plays out the best. When you see the season, you will see. There are those special guys out there. There are two or three of them. I am not going to lie to you, but I won't tell you who they are."

Yet King was more than willing to describe the traits of those two or three "special guys" he's seen this summer.

"I?seen the first day out here, 80-yard bombs where guys would catch and be gone. I saw 4.3's (seconds in the 40-yard dash) ran. I saw 4.2's ran. It wasn't on paper, but I saw it ran. They are fast," King said.

"The intensity level and their focus is unreal. There is no playing games. They know what they are here for, and I love it. They are here every day before I am, working, watching film, catching balls. I could see eight guys playing this year at receiver."

He thinks there could be one other surprise many UK?fans have forgotten about — the return of Gene McCaskill. He missed last year with a knee injury after coming out of the 2010 spring practice as UK's No. 3 receiver behind Cobb and Matthews.

"I feel great about Gene coming back.?He has been running around like crazy," King said. "A little slow on his knee, but other than that he is out here trying his best and going 110 percent. He had to slow it down just to recuperate a little bit, but he's fine."

King says assistant coach Tee Martin's goal to have the receivers catch 50,000 passes before UK?opens the season Sept. 1 against Western Kentucky is attainable.

"We just don't drop balls like we did in the spring,"?King said. "We were really anxious in the spring game. We are also trying to break that habit of bad starts. We have been a second half team, but we want to come out firing at them and scoring on that first drive. Right now I think our team is at that point where we have passed that level of clumsiness or slowing down. We are becoming a fast, complete team. To do that, we have to catch balls."

King is not overwhelmed by high expectations on him as UK's top returning receiver.

"It is more expectations than pressure. It's not like, ‘Oh, my God.' I know what I?can do. Now I just have to do it," King said. "It's applying everything that I?have learned to my game now and making plays. I am confident. I am not cocky, but confident. Every day we increase our intensity. It's like an overwhelming feeling. I told my team we are only as good as our weakest receiver and I don't want to be labeled as the number one receiver. I want to be labeled as a go-to guy.

"Our team is all on the same page, something that might not have been true last year. That's one reason I think we can do better this year than a lot of people believe."

He says the assistance from student-coach Glen Holt, a former UK?and NFL receiver, has been invaluable on and off the field, too, for him and UK's other receivers.

"With him it's like you listen to him and it gets through. You learn things to do and not do as a receiver and also in personal life," King said. "Holt is that guy who will tell you all the stuff you are going to see with agents and all that stuff like life issues.

"As far as receiver issues, he teaches drills we are going to see in the NFL, all the covers we will see. In college now, Florida kind of runs like a NFL defense and we broke them down by using him and (former UK?quarterback) Andre (Woodson) to our best advantage why they are. They could leave any time, so while they are here we want to use them to our advantage and we have been."

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