The 2012 high school football season is still a few days away, but the Ryan Timmons Touchdown Train is already picking up steam.
"We had a scrimmage Friday night," Franklin County coach Chris Tracy said. "He touched the ball four times and scored on three of ‘em."
While that may sound like a career game for most players, it's becoming commonplace with Timmons, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound all-purpose back who many believe to be the best all-around athlete in the Bluegrass State. As a junior, he rushed for 1,375 yards and 20 touchdowns while also racking up 1,102 receiving yards and another 18 scores.
In one game last October, Timmons scored touchdowns on seven of the 11 times he touched the ball in a 57-25 win over Woodford County. The eye-popping performance featured five rushes for 171 yards and three touchdowns, five catches for 203 yards and four touchdowns and a two-point conversion. It included scores of 76, 74, 54 and 66 yards.
He helped lead the Flyers to an 11-1 record, one of the best marks in school history, and has the county dreaming of a state championship run in Class 5A this season. Franklin County is currently ranked No. 3 in the Courier-Journal's preseason poll.
"It's a great feeling having a kid like that back on your team," Tracy said. "He's a guy who is so dangerous – a true sub-4.4 guy – that defenses have to account for him on every single play. His presence on the field, even when he doesn't have the ball, opens up a lot of things for us in our offense because we're blessed with several good athletes and a real nice quarterback (Toledo commitment Logan Woodside) who knows how to spread the ball around.
"And the best thing about it, Ryan doesn't care how many times he touches the ball. He doesn't care about stats and all that stuff. He just wants to win."
"That's the only thing I'm thinking about," the soft-spoken Timmons said. "We've got to finish this year. I want to win every game."
Tracy has gotten to the point where nothing Timmons does on the field leaves him in awe anymore. He actually has gained more admiration for opponents – the ones who are good enough to bring the Flyer star down.
"A lot of times, nobody even lays a hand on him, so the guys who are able to tackle him, you know they've made a really good play," he said.
Tracy thinks Timmons even benefits at times from wearing the proverbial bullseye on his back.
"They know how good he is, and every kid on the other team wants to put that big shot on him," he said. "They want to make a name for themselves and just waylay him. But those are usually the guys that come up with nothing but air. It's the guy who just breaks down and makes the solid, fundamental tackle that has the best chance against Ryan. He even makes it hard for those kids. It just doesn't happen very often.
"I told him that everyone is going to be gunning for him even more this year because they've heard all the attention he's been getting, and they know he's a guy who's going to be playing big-time college football next year on Saturdays and maybe in the NFL someday."
After such a great junior campaign, Timmons is looking for ways to add to his game in 2012.
"He really, really wants to add the return dimension to his game," Tracy said. "On kickoffs, most people will either kick it deep or squib it, and he never gets much of a chance, but we think we can find some ways for him to do more on punt returns. That's something he wants to do on the next level, so we want to get him prepared for that."
Timmons has played multiple positions for the Flyers in the past, but figures to spend most of his senior season at ‘Z' receiver, a position that allows him to be used in motion and come out of the backfield on many snaps. Many college scouts project him to be a slot receiver at the college level to take advantage of his raw speed against linebackers and safeties.
BCS programs like Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois and Purdue are among his growing list of scholarship offers. Wisconsin has been involved, and Ohio State has turned up its level of interest significantly this summer after Timmons won the "Smoke House" award for the fastest prospect at the Buckeyes' Friday Night Lights camp.
"A lot of the colleges see a guy who can take it to the house any time he touches the ball," Tracy said. "Everybody's looking for that type of player."
For the time being, Timmons is putting recruiting on the back burner to focus on his senior season.
"I have enjoyed it," Timmons said of the attention, "but it gets really hard when it gets to the point where it gets serious about trying to pick a school. Right now, I'm still open. I'm trying to focus on our season, so I really haven't given it all that much thought at all."
Kentucky was the first school that recruited Timmons. He has established a good relationship with UK assistant coach Chuck Smith, who serves as his recruiting contact, but has been getting to know new receivers coach Pat Washington this summer.
"I like coach Smith a lot, but he's the linebackers coach, so it's really important for me to get to know coach Washington and learn more about him since he's the guy I would be playing for if I went there," Timmons said.
He made an unofficial visit to Arkansas this summer. The Razorbacks are viewed as a potential strong contender for his commitment. He's drawn comparisons to former Arkansas standout Joe Adams, who recently was drafted by the Carolina Panthers.
"They say I remind them a lot of him – the same size, speed, skills," Timmons said. "It's a big compliment."
Likewise, he's drawn favorable comparisons to former Kentucky stars like Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke.
"They've drawn up plays and shown him exactly how they would like to use him in their offense," Tracy said of the UK staff. "They think he can do a lot of different things for them and take advantage of his versatility."
Franklin County opens the season on Friday at Nelson County.
Timmons TD Train gearing up for 2012
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