What impact will changing receivers coach again have on UK offense?

Josh Ali made the game-winning catch in the Belk Bowl and will be UK’s top returning receiver if there is a 2020 season. But he’ll also have a new position coach again (Vicky Graff Photo)


In his first seven seasons at Kentucky, coach Mark Stoops had three receivers coaches — Tommy Mainord (2013-15), Lamar Thomas (2016-17) and Michael Smith (2018-19). Recently Stoops made another change at that spot when he hired Jovon Bouknight, who had been coaching at Oregon.

Kentucky has had trouble with consistent production from its receivers and former UK running back Anthony White admits another coaching change “worries” him a bit especially without knowing why Smith is no longer on the staff.

“I have complete faith that (offensive coordinator Eddie) Gran will utilize the receivers to the best of his ability depending on which quarterback he uses,” White said. “The offense Gran runs is more beneficial for the ground attack which leads to not a lot of success catching the ball.

“But lot of the success the Kentucky offense had last year was because they (the receivers) were so selfless to go downfield to block. That’s a skill, too.”

White says the best position coaches find ways to get their players to buy into what they are saying.

“I think the last few receivers coaches have had huge personalities of their own and I am not sure that went over with guys not getting the ball that much,” White said. “Those guys (receivers) want touches. You have to let players live in the moment. It can’t be about what the coach did or where he’s been. Guys just want to play.”

Smith’s departure could have one other impact — recruiting in Louisiana. Kentucky has LSU transfer cornerback Kelvin Joseph, redshirt freshman quarterback Amani Gilmore and 2020 defensive back signee Joel Williams of Louisiana all on the current roster.

“All you want to do is get the pipeline open so when you have a recruit up to visit he will have someone here who is from Louisiana to talk to,” White said. “With the direction LSU is going, they can’t take everybody in Louisiana. Many of those other kids still want to play in the SEC and can see an opportunity to come to Kentucky and play, especially if they have somebody here they might know or know about.”

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