Wideout Key enrolls at UK early to start work on next season | Sports

Four-star receiver Dane Key meant to complete his senior season at Frederick Douglass High School and experience one ultimate season of baseball, a recreation he’s all the time loved and concept at one time he would possibly even play in faculty.

However, the Kentucky signee is now enrolling at UK for the spring semester and it’s now not onerous to grasp his pondering.

“Getting into the system and getting to learn under coach (Liam) Coen early and getting an advantage getting into the playbook early is something I talked about with my family and we thought was in my best interest to get to work early,” mentioned Key, the Paul Hornung Award winner because the state’s best highschool participant.

What that suggests is that Key sees an opportunity to play as a real freshman and realizes getting a complete low season, together with spring apply, underneath Coen complements his possibilities to enjoying subsequent season.

“Hitting that weight room and getting to play in spring practice is an advantage that can help me play earlier. I get that,” Key mentioned. “Coach Coen told me to stay in the playbook. I will be at the facility and get a lot of work, but the main thing is to get on that playbook.”

Key additionally admitted being so with reference to house makes it more straightforward to head forward and get started his collegiate occupation.

“If I do miss mom and dad, I can drive home 10 minutes away and have dinner. Anything my high school friends do, I can still get with them and do,” Key mentioned.

Coach Mark Stoops is it appears going to provide Key, the son of former UK linebacker Donte Key, masses to stay him busy.

“He’s a guy that I would expect to come in and play just because he has the size, he has that ability to make competitive catches, and the great length that he has, but he’s also very sudden,” Stoops mentioned about Key on nationwide signing day.

Key preferred what Stoops mentioned but in addition is aware of “nothing will be given to me” at Kentucky. The Cats signed 4 different receivers and now have some receivers off remaining 12 months’s group looking forward to an opportunity to play.

“I have to come in ready to work. I am going to have to earn everything that comes to me,” Key mentioned. “I am really happy with the other receivers we signed. Just being able to be around other studs makes it a lot better. You can learn from other people, So learning from the receivers we brought in is going to be a big advantage for me.

“A couple of them are really fast and you can’t teach speed. Being around those fast dudes, I will try to learn and get faster if I can.”

Kentucky’s premier receiver this season used to be Wan’Dale Robinson. Key texts him frequently and would really like to assume he’ll go back to UK for any other season.

“He tells me I can do something special here with the offense,” Key mentioned. “I really can’t tell you what he is going to do (about next year). I hope he does what is best for him. If he wants to come back, that will be great. But if he does decide to leave, I am happy for him and whatever is best for him.”

Key is aware of what helped make Robinson elite.

“His work ethic that he did all through spring ball and all season separates him. Getting in that playbook and getting stronger and faster, that’s what gave him an advantage, especially with the skills he has,” Key mentioned. “So I know I have to work and do what needs to be done to succeed in the SEC.”

On the basketball court docket, Oscar Tshiebwe is a rebounding system with a continuous motor. But what’s he like off the court docket?

“Oscar is super funny. He is like the friendly giant at the end of the day,” UK freshman guard TyTy Washington mentioned. “He is super friendly.

“Every time we go out, Oscar is always making new friends. I don’t know how he does it, but he always does. On the court, he is a different type of animal.”

Washington mentioned Tshiebwe will even do a humorous John Calipari impersonation that avid gamers experience.

“We both have fun,” Washington mentioned.

Tshiebwe has attempted to show Washington discuss French, with out numerous success.

Washington mentioned over again when Tshiebwe used to be now not working as onerous as Calipari sought after in apply – one thing that seldom occurs – that the United Kingdom trainer attempted to inform the opposite avid gamers say run in French to inspire Tshiebwe.

“It’s just hard not to have fun when you are around Oscar,” Washington mentioned.

Will Levis had a historical season for Kentucky soccer in his first 12 months with the Wildcats after moving from Penn State. He led UK to a 10-3 report whilst finishing 233 of 353 passes for two,826 yards and 24 ratings and ran 107 instances for 376 yards and 9 touchdowns. He directed the game-winning landing pressure to overcome Iowa 20-17 within the Citrus Bowl remaining week.

Offensive coordinator Liam Coen, additionally new to UK this 12 months, says Levis is each a amusing and difficult participant to train.

“From the improvement standpoint, that’s what we always talk about with Will is every single day of practice is him getting another rep at being a full-time quarterback,” Coen mentioned. “Every single seven-on-seven, every single blitz period, every single team period is an opportunity to get better. He’s still learning how to play the position because he wasn’t used to playing this position in years past.

“That’s why I just think that the ceiling is so high for him to be able to play at a high level and continue to push himself to get better and better. He is not just going to continue to take practice reps to take reps. He tries to practice to get better every single day.”

Levis introduced earlier than the bowl sport that he would go back to UK for the 2022 season. That method he’ll have a complete offseason, together with spring apply, with Coen – one thing he didn’t have earlier than this season.

“You better be on your stuff. You better be ready to go as a coach,” Coen mentioned about training Levis. “When you don’t, you can tell he gets bored. That’s something that it’s on me as a coach and us as coaches to challenge him daily, both mentally and physically, with some things.

“That’s going to be a big-time emphasis for us this spring is continuing to challenge him both mentally and physically to get better. He definitely raises the standard in the room, in the offense and as a coach.”

Prolific Prep (Calif.) guard M.J. Rice can be again in Kentucky enjoying at Mustang Madness at McCracken County High School in Paducah after enjoying on the Marshall County Hoopfest remaining month.

Rice, a Kansas signee, has performed in opposition to Cason Wallace and Skyy Clark, each UK signees he may just face in faculty.

“Cason is a great player. I went against him in AAU,” Rice mentioned. “He’s a true point guard. He can score when he wants to or needs to. He is such an athlete. He is so smooth with the ball, too. He’s also really smart.”

Rice performed with Clark at USA Basketball and says he’s additionally a real level guard with a couple of talents.

“He can score, but really his main focus is to get everybody else involved in the game,” Rice mentioned. “If everybody is not in the game, he gets on you and helps you. He’s that kind of leader. That is what I really think about him.

“I played with him and know what he can do at point guard. His first objective is to make sure everybody is in the game mentally, physically and everything else. He can do what he has to do to make sure a team wins.”

Considering the reward that Kentucky’s offensive line were given this season – and the activity UK did recruiting offensive linemen within the 2022 signing magnificence – there was little or no reward for first-year offensive line trainer Eric Wolford.

He now not handiest needed to change take on Landon Young and middle Drake Jackson, two in-state avid gamers who anchored the road, however he additionally needed to observe the past due John Schlarman.

However, sixth-year senior Luke Fortner, who moved from guard to middle, mentioned Wolford made certain the offensive line persisted to be a energy of the group and not fearful about getting or now not getting credit score for what he used to be doing.

“He probably enjoys the fact you don’t talk about him much. But it’s a huge compliment. He’s done an incredible job. Like you said, a new O-line coach, new offense, coming off losing coach Schlarman,” Fortner mentioned.

“The job he’s done with getting us ready to play this year has been absolutely incredible and he’s glad you don’t mention his name. We’ve had some young guys come along really well. We’ve had some veterans play really well and I’m proud of our offensive line.”

Quarterback Will Levis mentioned it used to be unbelievable how the road tailored to the diversification of schemes new offensive coordinator Liam Coen used in comparison to what Kentucky were doing.

“Bringing a new offense to a line that is pretty experienced and used to running certain concepts, it took a few games for us to find our true identity and like what our bread and butter is in terms of what schemes work best for our offensive line. But they just did an incredible job this year,” Levis mentioned.

Jacob Toppin can produce spotlight performs along with his athleticism whether or not this can be a thunderous dunk, acrobatic transfer within the lane or a blocked shot. He’s regarded as essentially the most athletic participant at the Kentucky roster, however insists he doesn’t get stuck up excited about what athletic play he would possibly make.

“I don’t think it is on my mind. I take pride that I am an energy guy,” Toppin mentioned. “Even off the court, I am an energy guy.

“I am going to make hustle plays and do whatever I can do to help this team win. We can win games without me scoring. That is not a problem for me. Hustle plays bring wins and that’s what I know I can always do.”

Toppin mentioned avid gamers can convey power in distinctive techniques even supposing they aren’t in a sport and Kentucky has began doing that.

“Our bench has been great. On the bench, everyone is bringing energy. Even if someone is not playing a lot, they are still bringing energy,” Toppin mentioned. “That shows how we are connected and want to see everyone succeed.”

Kentucky fanatics without a doubt confirmed their appreciation to former trainer Tubby Smith remaining week when he had his jersey retired all over a pregame rite earlier than High Point misplaced 92-48 to UK.

Smith spent 12 years training at Kentucky – two as an assistant to Rick Pitino and 10 as head trainer – and gained a countrywide championship in 1998. He’s additionally been head trainer at Tulsa, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas Tech, Memphis and now High Point.

The sport at Kentucky used to be his 1,000th sport as a school head trainer – he has 637 wins in 31 years. Smith just lately became 70 and after the United Kingdom sport I requested him how for much longer he meant to stay training.

“My wife won’t let me quit, man. I have been trying to. She likes this lifestyle,” Smith joked. “No, it’s getting – you know, at certain times – I go back to my pops, raised 17 kids with mom and dad.

“He said, ‘Boy, there is going to come a time you’re not going to be able to fight like you used to.’ Stamina. It’s not so much drive. Every coach loves coaching. I mean, Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, all the guys, the legendary coaches planning on retiring, they would still be coaching, but you can only go so long.

“It’s like a boxer or a basketball player. There is a window of longevity. I’m having a lot of fun here at High Point. We just built a new arena, facility, so I’m excited about that. I’d hoped we had won some of those close games and have a better record right now, but it’s a process. We want to finish this journey and then we’ll make a decision about retiring.”

The twenty second annual All-American Bowl on Saturday in San Antonio could have 4 long run Kentucky soccer avid gamers within the sport that can be proven at midday CST on NBC and Peacock.

Defensive again Alex Afari of Cincinnati, offensive lineman Kiyaunta Goodwin of Louisville, receiver Barion Brown of Nashville and linebacker Keaten Wade of Nashville will all be enjoying within the sport.

Quote of the Week: “I think about COVID a lot. It changed the entire world. When I am in my room, I think about little stuff like that. I am vaccinated. So is the whole program. When I am on the court I am not worried about COVID because we did what we had to do to stay as safe as possible,” UK freshman guard TyTy Washington, on if COVID worries have an effect on his play.

Quote of the Week 2: “If I don’t get thoroughly booed on the road, it’s probably time to retire. I want that boo to be so loud that they try to take the roof off. And I look at the team, ‘We’re in the right place, let’s go,’ ” Kentucky trainer John Calipari, at the street mentality he needs his group to have.

Quote of the Week 3: “It is kind of like a storybook ending. He gets ruled out, goes back in there, not only just to play, but to get the game-sealing interception. Just a storybook ending. I am so happy for him, and he deserves all the recognition,” quarterback Will Levis, on linebacker DeAndre Square’s Citrus Bowl interception to seal a 20-17 UK win.{&finish}

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