By LARRY VAUGHT
Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead might not remember all the statistical specifics but he knows plenty about Kentucky junior Lynn Bowden because he recruited him out of Warren Harding High School in Ohio for Penn State.
“He is just a multi-facet guy: get him the ball in the pass game, get him the ball on speed sweeps and plays a little bit of wildcat quarterback. Obviously, in the return game, as well, so he is very dangerous in space,” Moorhead said in preparation for Saturday’s game against visiting Kentucky.
Bowden caught seven passes for 70 yards in Kentucky’s 29-21 loss to Florida last week. He has 104 career catches — only 16 other UK players have 100 or more catches. The only UK players to get to 100 receptions quicker than Bowden, who needed 29 games, were Anthony White in 21 games and Derek Abney in 22.
He is 25th on UK’s all-time career receiving yards list with 1,156 yards. He has also caught at least one pass in 17 straight games.
He has had at least six catches in all three UK games this season, the first time a UK player has opened the season that way since James Whalen in 1999.
“If I remember correctly, I think he came in second for the Mr. (Football) voting (in Ohio), but played almost primarily quarterback in high school. On his highlight film, if you go back and look, he did a bunch of different things but the words that comes to my mind is dynamic and versatile,” the Mississippi State coach said Monday.
“He can do a ton of different things and (you have to find) ways to get the ball in his hand. I like Lynn. Lynn’s an awesome kid and I had a chance to talk to him a little bit on the field last year, but hopefully we can do what we need to do to slow them down. I don’t know if we can necessarily stop him, but he is one of the top playmakers in the SEC.”
Mississippi State gave up a 100-yard kickoff return in last week’s loss to Kansas State and Kentucky might need that kind of explosive play out of Bowden to get its first win at Mississippi State since a 14-13 victory in 2008. Overall, State has gone 8-2 against UK in the last 10 games but the Cats won games in Lexington 40-38 in 2016 and 28-7 in 2018.
Former Kentucky all-SEC defensive back Van Hiles calls Bowden an “incredible” player even when he may not have his best game.
“He has such great speed. That is No. 1 thing we hate as corners is guy with great speed,” Hiles said. “If he runs decent routes, he’s hard to cover. If he runs great routes , then he is unguardable.
“He works hard. From his freshman year to now, his growth and nuances of the position has been huge. Most fans do not understand how hard getting off the line and then getting leverage on the corner is.
“He never had a problem catching the ball. He has put in the work in. You can have all kind of talent but if you don’t work you will won’t be very good. He has done the work.”