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Speedy recruit likes UK’s new offense

Vaught’s Views

 

 

He grew up in California but didn’t start out playing football. Instead, Jordan Anthony studied the game until he was old enough to play. He eventually moved to Mississippi but didn’t even play football his freshman year of high school.

His sophomore season he did play but was just used on defense. However, the speedy Anthony got a chance to play receiver last year for Tylertown High School and had 15 catches for 700 because of his blazing speed.

His 100-meter dash time of 10.21 seconds ranks second in the world in the under 18 category and his 20.86 in the 200 ranks fourth according to the International Association of Athletics Federations — an organization of more than 160 countries.

“I am not just a track guy. If you watch my film, you will see I am a football guy and always will be,” said Anthony. “Football is my first love. I love blocking and bringing excitement to the game. I would rather help somebody else score by making a block than scoring myself.

Cougars prepare for fall season The Letcher County Central High School football team scrimmages the Breathitt County Bobcats as they prepare for the start of high school football in Kentucky. The Cougars will open the 2021 season on the road at Shelby Valley High School on August 20. LCC’s home opener is set for August 27 when David Crockett High of Jonesborough, Tenn., visits Ermine. (Photo by Chris Anderson)

Cougars prepare for fall season The Letcher County Central High School football team scrimmages the Breathitt County Bobcats as they prepare for the start of high school football in Kentucky. The Cougars will open the 2021 season on the road at Shelby Valley High School on August 20. LCC’s home opener is set for August 27 when David Crockett High of Jonesborough, Tenn., visits Ermine. (Photo by Chris Anderson)

“I think I am a versatile player. If you see my film, I can break down a defense. I can sit in windows. I am a very smart guy when it comes to running routes.

Kentucky will be happy for him to score as often as he can. He verbally committed to the Wildcats last month after also considering Mississippi, Florida State and Boston College. He also had track offers from national powers Alabama and LSU. He does plan to run track at Kentucky as long as it does not interfere with football.

Anthony says he was “actually slow” before getting really fast in the last year. Of course, a “slow”100-meter dash to him was 10.9 seconds before he exploded on the national scene with his 10.21 at the Nike Outdoor National Championship. He did that even though he had not been training for about four months and just competed to see how he might do.

While some schools recruited him as a lockdown cornerback because of his speed, the 5-11, 165-pound Anthony says Kentucky talked “exclusively” about him as a receiver. He says new UK offensive coordinator Liam Coen told him out UK wants to “air it out” and how well he fits in with that system.

If defensive line coach Anwar Stewart is right, Isaiah Gibson could be the X-factor for the UK defense this season. (Vicky Graff Photo)

If defensive line coach Anwar Stewart is right, Isaiah Gibson could be the X-factor for the UK defense this season. (Vicky Graff Photo)

“I think teams are going to have to be ready for us with this offense,” Anthony said. “He wants to just pick you apart and get the ball to different receivers.”

The Mississippi receiver announced his commitment during a visit with family to Lexington but said he was committed before he ever got to campus.

“Just nobody knew it until I committed but I was definitely planning to commit while I was in Lexington,” he said. “I trust coach (Mark) Stoops and his staff to take care of me.”

His lead recruiter was linebacker coach Jon Sumrall.

“Coach (Sumrall) is just Coach. He will always be himself. He will tell you what is right or wrong. He just tells you like it is and I like that,” Anthony said. “He just understood me. Kentucky will develop me as a young man and I will get a great education. A diploma lasts longer than ball. Coach (Sumrall) has been like a father figure to me.”

Anthony’s father had a “big impact” on his life before recently passing.

“If not for him, I would not be playing. His death gives me motivation. He had been waiting for this moment for me to be able to get a great education and play on the big stage,” Anthony said. s

If you are looking for a potential breakout star in the Kentucky defensive line this year, pay attention to 6-1, 318-pound tackle redshirt freshman Octavious Oxendine of North Hardin.

He played in three games as a true freshman in 2020 but a lot more is being expected from the four-star recruit who picked UK over Tennessee and others.

“He’s a very smart kid,” defensive line coach Anwar Stewart said.

How smart? Stewart said he has used UK senior defensive lineman Josh Paschal to mentor him.

“He is like Josh’s shadow. What Josh does, he does,” Stewart said. “He is always working with and competing against Josh. That’s what you have to do to develop and improve your skills.

“He has taken on that with Josh and Josh is really helping him come into his own. He’s a good kid with an unbelievable work ethic, so that helps, too. I love that kid. He is one guy I push and coach hard because he wants to be great and he wants to be pushed. I am expecting a lot from him.”

Another player to watch is sophomore defensive lineman Josaih Hayes of Mississippi. The 6-3, 310-pound Hayes played in five games last year but had what Stewart called a “really good offseason” to get ready for this year.

“He is looking good. I watch him work out every day and he is just a powerful, explosive young man,” Stewart, a former UK defensive end/linebacker and 13-year CFL veteran, said. “By the end of the year people are going to know and love him.

“He has a great personality. He is a momma’s boy and if I have any issues I call her and she will straighten him out. Guys just take to him. He was highly recruited out of high school and has been doing a really good job. I am really excited to see what he is going to do.”

Another sophomore, 302-pound defensive end Isaiah Gibson, is another new name to remember. He had five tackles and a quarterback hurry in nine games last year.

“He has the size and ability. He is fast. He has every tangible measurement you want in a defensive lineman,” Stewart said. “Now he just has to put it all together.

“He is one guy that could be the X-factor for us this year. I am excited to see how he starts out and competes. But I really think he could be a big surprise.” s

No one is going to be surprised if Nebraska transfer Wan’Dale Robinson is the X-factor of the UK offense. He’s on the preseason watch list for the Paul Hornung Award given to the nation’s most versatile player and coach Mark Stoops made it clear at Media Day that Robinson would be returning kicks as well as playing receiver.

“Wan’Dale brings a different element in the return game, along with playing wide receiver,” Stoops said.

That is why Robinson wanted to play at UK once he decided to transfer.

“I mean I’m super excited. I’m just glad to be home,” Robinson, a former Mr. Football at Western Hills High School, said. “Just to be able to play in front of these fans and actually have a packed house now.”

Kentucky associate coach Vince Marrow says Robinson is “special” and will energize the UK offense.

Robinson said it was a “pretty normal” summer for him spending time with the strength staff and not letting the hype stop him from making sure he’s ready to play Sept. 4 when UK opens the season.

“We work really hard during the offseason to be able to be ready to go now, so we are really excited to get going,” Robinson said. s

Anthony White ran for 1,758 yards and 11 touchdowns from 1997-99 and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. He still ranks 13th on UK’s all-time rushing list. During those same three years with Tim Couch and Dusty Bonner at quarterback, he caught 194 passes for 1,520 yards and eight scores while averaging 7.8 yards per catch. The only UK players with more catches are Craig Yeast (208) and Derek Abney (197).

White is also ninth on UK’s alltime career receiving yardage list with his 1,520 yards and two of those ahead of him — Yeast and Quentin McCord — were his UK teammates in the Air Raid offense. White’s 78 catches in 1998 are the fourth best mark at UK behind James Whalen (90), Yeast (85) and Randall Cobb (84).

Couch, Yeast, Cobb and Abney are all in the UK Athletics Hall of Fame. White is not but count UK defensive line coach Anwar Stewart, White’s one-time teammate, and TonyFranklin, White’s position coach at UK, among many who think he should be.

White also is a co-host on WLAP Sunday Morning Sports and John McNece worked several years on Sunday mornings with White.

“I found him to be humble, considerate, a moderator of sorts between personalities on the sports talk show he was co-host of. He was truly surprised when he found that there was a mural of him at the football center/stadium,” McNece said.

“He mentioned once that he never got a game ball. Considering all he had done for the football programs he has been with I thought that a shame. I bought him a football and wrote his accomplishments on it. I honestly think he was genuinely and positively affected by my gift.

“Time and time again Kentucky, Lexington specifically, honors the wrong things, saves the wrong buildings, and doesn’t appreciate what we have. What a nice gesture to add Anthony to the Hall of Fame. He richly deserves it.” s

Senior Alli Stumler understands — as four-time defending Southeastern Conference champion and now defending national champion — that the Kentucky volleyball team is going to have a big target on it this season.

The Cats also lost three All- Americans — national player of the year Madison Lilley, Gabby Curry and Avery Skinner — frm the national championship team.

“Every year you have to find the right chemistry,” Stumler said. “Every year we bring in new players and work to find out what that team might be like in the fall. During the summer we hang out as much as we can off the court so we are ready to go when we step on the court.”

Kentucky begins practice this week and opens the season with an exhibition match August 19 at Western Kentucky and then begins regular season play with three games in the Dayton (Ohio) Tournament August 27-28.

“We did lose some pieces of the puzzle we have been building for a while. A lot of players need to step up and they already have,” Stumler, who also earned All-America honors last season, said. “People know their roles might be different than last year and they have to step into that new role and take it.”

Stumler said the UK volleyball culture is the point where it is “expected” that players step into whatever role they are put in and perform.

“I think we have great incoming freshmen and players I think are ready to take on new roles,” Stumler said. “We will be totally fine and I am excited to see what this team can bring. We are excited for the challenge coming up.” s

Johnson Central coach Jim Matney says Kentucky football commit Grant Bingham, a 6-6, 300-pound all-state offensive lineman, is a “solid player” who continues to try and get better.

“We are trying to get him ready for UK,” Matney said. “We have had several kids out of the mountains do well in the line in college including recently with the boys from Belfry at Louisville and UK. A lot of schools are having success with mountain kids, and he will be one because he’s a tough kid.”

Matney understands it’s important to let Bingham work on skills he’ll need at UK.

“We want to have him ready for Kentucky, so we work on his overall package. He does not do a lot of pass-blocking with us. We try to put in some extra time (with pass blocking) to get him ready for college,” the Johnson Central coach said. “He’s not had any letdown in his workouts since he committed to Kentucky.

“He has been pretty levelheaded despite turning down Notre Dame, Michigan, Miami and others. He’s a little bigger now but it is good weight he has put on. You can see he is thicker.” s

Quote of the Week: “I am definitely looking forward to having big Oscar on the team. He will be a big presence inside and give us an element we didn’t have last year,” Kentucky guard Davion Mintz on having transfer Oscar Tshiebwe on this year’s team.

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