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NCAA Football Kentucky WildcatsSEC Football

Wide Receivers Must Step Up for 2013 Kentucky Wildcats

Mark Zerof, USA TODAY SPORTS

The Kentucky Wildcats are looking for more offensive production this season after struggling in 2012. Kentucky was 113th in the nation last season (out of 120) in total offense, and 102nd in the country in passing offense, averaging 176 yards passing per contest.

In December, Kentucky hired Mark Stoops to be the new head coach (replacing Joker Phillips), and one of Stoops’ first priorities was to hire former Wildcat Neal Brown as the offensive coordinator. Brown, who played at Kentucky during the pass-happy Hal Mumme years, served as the offensive coordinator for the Texas Tech Red Raiders last season.

To say that Texas Tech and Kentucky produced dissimilar results last season would be a major understatement. Texas Tech was 13th in the nation in total offense, and second in the nation in passing offense, with 356 passing yards per game, more than double what Kentucky was able to muster.

Brown will bring his offense to Lexington in 2013, and he will continue his pattern of throwing the ball a lot. The question of who will be doing the throwing still must be answered, though. Sophomores Maxwell Smith, Patrick Towles and Jalen Whitlow all saw time behind center last season, and those three will compete to be the starting quarterback in 2012.

However, Kentucky has another big question to answer: who is going to catch the ball for the Wildcats in 2013? Gone from the already paltry passing game is last season’s top receiver, LaRod King. Also gone are third-leading receiver Aaron Boyd and fifth-leading receiver Gene McCaskill.

The top receiver returning is Demarco Robinson, who caught 28 passes for 297 yards in 2012. The next returning receiver is actually a running back, Jonathan George, who caught 21 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown.

Two receivers that showed promise last year as true freshmen return in 2013, and both will be expected to contribute. Daryl Collins caught 17 passes for 171 yards in 2012, while A.J. Legree had 12 receptions for 113 yards.

Needless to say, Kentucky does not have much experience at catching the ball. This is something that Brown and Stoops are aware of, and they are addressing it in recruiting. Brown will have his quarterbacks throwing the ball in 2013 — he just hopes that when they do throw it, there will be someone present to catch it.