By LARRY VAUGHT
As soon as he got to Kentucky, he became known as the “tall receiver” to many Kentucky fans which was easy to understand since he is 6-7.
But now more and more Kentucky fans are beginning to know the “tall receiver” is Ahmad Wagner, who had three catches for 71 yards — including a 54-yard reception for his first UK touchdown — in last week’s win over Eastern Michigan.
“It don’t matter to me what they call me. As long as we are winning games, I don’t care,” Wagner said after last week’s win.
For Kentucky to beat No. 9 Florida Saturday with backup quarterback Sawyer Smith making his first start, Wagner likely will have to make more attention-grabbing plays.
“We are all excited for the game.The crowd is going to be amazing. It will be exciting to see our fan base ready to go for this game and everybody is going to want to win for Terry (Wilson),” Wagner said.
Wagner came to UK for the 2018 season after three years as a basketball player at Iowa where he started as a sophomore but got only limited time his junior year when he averaged 1.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 9.1 minutes per game.
He had played one year of high school football in Ohio and caught 58 passes for 1,028 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior. He returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown in the Division I state championship game.
Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow knew about Wagner but the player “loved” basketball. However, Marrow never forgot about him and repeatedly asked about him when he back in Ohio because he felt Wagner was the best player in Ohio in 2015.
When Wagner decided to give up basketball and switch to football, Marrow welcomed him with open arms and it has turned out to be a steal for UK because no one seems able to cover him. During his time at UK, he’s had 14 passes thrown his way. He has six catches for 128 yards and a score but also has drawn a pass interference call eight times, including on on his touchdown catch. And don’t forget the pass interference call he drew on UK’s game-winning drive at Missouri last year that set up the winning touchdown pass to C.J. Conrad.
“I feel like I am still improving every day. I get to learn from some good coaches and really good players that teach me new stuff that I am just grateful for,” Wagner said. “Playing more and getting experience makes me better and I am happy about that.”
So is offensive coordinator Eddie Gran.
“He has developed so much. He is going to continue to do that as we start growing and getting into this schedule,” Gran said. “He is such a big target and has done a fantastic job.”