By LARRY VAUGHT
Despite Kentucky’s 0-2 Southeastern Conference record, one major surprise for the Wildcats continues to be receiver Ahmad Wagner.
He’s been so good, that former UK all-SEC defensive back Van Hiles believes Wagner has a “chance to turn into something very special” before this season ends.
The senior has 10 catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns, including a 54-yard strike on Sawyer Smith’s first pass at Kentucky. Then there are all the pass interference penalties he has drawn this year.
“He is showing he can run more routes than I thought,” Hiles said. “As a corner, that guy is physically imposing. You have to respect all the routes rather than back off him. He still might be questionable on the slant route but he’s really good on the hitch and the out.”
Wagner had three catches in each of UK’s first three games but was limited to one catch for 15 yards in the 28-13 loss at Mississippi State last week. He also failed to hold on to a touchdown catch.
“They challenged him more last week,” Hiles said. “Receivers were man up on the corners. We have to win more one on one battles and he certainly has to. I expect (South Carolina coach Will) Muschamp to do the same with him one on one.
“The next big step for Wagner is to show he can beat a physical corner off the ball and run his route all the time. When he does that, he might be unguardable.”