New offense means new life for Kentucky football. That goes for every position.
In the class of 2020, both Izayah Cummings and JuTahn McClain were solid recruiting wins. Vince Marrow went into Louisville and Metro Cincinnati to land both and each headed to Lexington with high expectations. After playing sparingly as a true freshman, each is back for year two playing for new position coaches.
After Kentucky Fan Day, it became very evident that each second-year player could be a big part of Liam Coen’s offense in 2021. Expect both to contribute this season.
A former high three-star prospect out of Ohio, McClain played in 11 games and rushed for 62 yards in spot duty. However, former offensive coordinator Eddie Gran constantly praised the Fairfield (Ohio) High product who rushed for 4,406 yards and caught 48 passes during his prep career. The dual-threat ability was on full display at Kroger Field.
Coen utilized the tailback all over the field using McClain often in the slot and on jet motions. The tailback was often a target on quick-out breaking routes as well as getting snaps at traditional running back. McClain looks like a player that can be a swiss army knife for the Kentucky offense this fall.
Expect the second-year tailback to touch the football in a variety of ways — outside zone handoffs, jet sweeps, screens, and as a traditional receiver. As Kentucky looks for more answers at the wideout position, one solution could be to just use two-back sets by leaning on McClain’s positional versatility to create advantageous situations for the Wildcats.
The former three-star recruit out of Louisville (Ky.) Male High was a major recruiting win at the wide receiver position. Kentucky was looking for Cummings to impact the offense at X receiver, but after playing sparingly last season, the redshirt sophomore has decided to change positions.
On Monday, KSR’s Nick Roush reported the position switch, and on Friday Mark Stoops confirmed that Cummings asked fits the mold for modern football.
“Obviously he was always a tweener,” Stoops told reporters about Cummings. “He’s a very big, athletic guy, and we have a need in — really if you look at it and you watch football at the next level, they love the athletic tight ends. There’s always the in-line guys, the physical guys, the guys that can do everything, but the super-athletic tight ends that can get open and are tough mismatches are getting more and more valuable, so we have to find the right way to use him.”
On Saturday, Cummings passed the look test. The 6-foot-3 target was constantly finding himself open and was a popular option for all of Kentucky’s quarterbacks. Cummings got his fair share of the snaps with the ones and will be a player that will help Kentucky this season.