Larry Vaught goes one-on-one with former UK player Derek Abney to discuss the Kentucky receivers.
Question: How hard is it for a new receiving star to emerge after the loss of a player like Randall Cobb along with Chris Matthews, the No. 2 receiver last year?
Abney: "I look at it as an opportunity as opposed to difficulty. There's a void that needs to be filled and now is a player's opportunity. I'm excited for them and can't wait to see someone fill that role."
Question: What are reasonable expectations for true freshmen receivers Daryl Collins and Demarco Robinson and what is the biggest obstacle they face this year?
Abney: "Hmmm ... Reasonable expectations are getting acclimated to college life and redshirting to get stronger and gain a little experience. If they play, they could contribute on "long" special teams, i.e., punt/ko and punt/ko returns and modestly contribute. However, with the void there is a great chance for some real production. You never know until a person is put in that situation--especially 18 year old kids.
"Patience for freshman is also a requisite. My first ever punt return was a disaster. We were at Death Valley (LSU) and Kendrick had muffed either two or even three punts. Coach Mumme put me out there as a RS-Freshman and it was a huge, hanging kick and I proceeded to muff it, too. Fortunately, he had the patience (or Morris did after Shanklin was gone) to allow me to receive punts again. ...And the rest is history."
Question: How much does a tight end that can stretch the field help the offense and open things for other receivers?
Abney: "It's very important. One less deep threat adds one, or a lot of times two defenders to cover the rest of the perimeter. Everyone knows speed is the most important thing in football and that's no different for tight ends."
Question: Would it surprise you if an older receiver like E.J. Fields, Matt Roark or Aaron Boyd suddenly became productive this year after barely contributing to this point?
Abney: "Absolutely not. There are only so many attempts in a game and the majority of them will go to the best receivers, i.e., Cobb and Mathews. They were so remarkable that it would have been difficult for ANYBODY to contribute besides those two."
Question: Who is your pick to be UK's go-to receiver this year?
Abney: "This is a very uneducated guess but I think (and hope) Gene McCaskill has a great year. I hope he can stay healthy enough to show what he can offer. He has the talent and he deserves it."
Abney on UK receivers
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