A Look into the Class of 2004: Wide Receivers

Keenan Burton's arrival last Fall summarized Kentucky's poor receiving corp to date. There are plenty of surprises in store for next year.

The 6 foot freshmen from Manual (HS) in Louisville blew away his competition and most importantly the coaching staff, moving from a possible red-shirt season to a starting spot at wide receiver in just his first year at UK. While Burton's rise to prominance on the football field was music to Wildcat fans ears at the time, it also showed the glaring weakness at the wide receiver spot. If a relatively unknown athlete can come to campus as freshmen and earn a starting spot, what did that say for the rest of the receivers?

Not much.

So Rich Brooks and his coaching staff did what they had set out from the beginning to accomplish; get faster.

In December, the staff added wide receiver Scott Mitchell, a 6-3 junior college transfer that will most likely start from Day 1 at UK. He has the size, the hands, and the speed to be an immediate impact for UK. Most importantly, unlike past junior college receivers Chris Bernard and Aaron Boone, Mitchell will not have the pressure of having to perform upon arrival. Mitchell will be needed to contribute and nothing more; playing mostly second fiddle to returning receiving stars John Logan and Keenan Burton.

Also headed to Kentucky is highly publicized man-child Lonnell DeWalt. DeWalt has been highly considered one of the best prospects in the country, but most experts were undecided at where he projected at the next level. DeWalt, from Bowling Green, has the size to play tight end and the speed to play receiver. His tall frame and quick feet is a matchup problem for anybody, especially for the typically smaller corners in the Southeastern Conference.

"Lonnell has a rare combination of speed, size, hands, and athleticism," Warren Central's Coach Ron Wood said.

Also headed for the wide receiver spot is Dicky Lyons, Jr from New Orleans. The 5'11 standout was "Mr. Everything" at Holy Cross high school and he plans to do the same at UK, where his Dad is a living legend. Lyons, Jr. will most likely be slated for special teams, but could surprise people with his erray of skills at the wide receiver spot next Fall. Lyons, Jr. will be one of the most watched recruits set to hit Lexington next fall.

"Dicky is a rare guy who comes along once in a lifetime," said his coach Barry Wilson, who played for LSU in the 1960s and played against Dicky's father at Kentucky. "Dicky is really fast, with great acceleration. I have yet to see anyone catch him from behind and he saved a number of touchdowns on our kickoff coverage team by running down players (opponent returners) from behind. He's strong for his size and is a tremendous competitor. When the game is on the line, he wants the ball. The better the competition, the better he played."

Analysis: In my opinion, the most improved position from last year to this year, will be the wide receiver spot. The Cats have added three guys that will most likely compete for playing time upon arriving in Lexington. Lyons, Jr. is perhaps the steal of the recruiting class, DeWalt is perhaps the most talented, and Mitchell will be the most likely to make an impact on the team next season.

A Look Ahead: The Cats might have trouble running the offense with Boyd or Woodson at the helm, but they will have plenty of targets to throw the ball to with John Logan and Keenan Burton returning. Mitchell and Logan should be the biggest key to the Cats success at wide receiver. If they can somehow utilize thier speed and work on their route running, this unit should be extremely productive next year.

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