One Kentucky wide receiver can’t catch a break.
Entering his fifth season in Lexington, Clevan Thomas was undergoing a senior resurgence this spring, revitalized by the fresh start in Liam Coen’s pro-style offense. In the final week of practice, the wide receiver suffered a torn ACL. KSR has learned it’s unlikely he will be able to play in the 2021 season.
Recruited by Eddie Gran, the Miami native enrolled early and played in eight games as a true freshman in 2017. Billed as a breakout player in 2018, an injury forced him to redshirt. He caught a pass in nine of the final ten games of the 2019 season, even though injuries sidelined all the Wildcats’ skilled passes. Like most of UK’s wide receivers, Thomas did not rise to the occasion in 2020, but Kentucky’s new offensive coordinator believed Thomas could be a play a complementary role alongside Josh Ali and Wan’Dale Robinson.
“He’s done some really nice things, some really nice things,” Coen said during the first week of spring practice. “He’s working his tail off. He runs great routes. He’s hustling around. He’s really one of the only guys playing multiple positions right now and he can handle it. I’ve been happy with that group. Obviously Josh and Wan’Dale have made some plays, but there have been some other guys that have made some plays in that group that I’m happy with.”
Thomas is the second Kentucky football player to suffer a significant injury during spring practice. D’Eryk Jackson will miss the 2021 season after he tore his Achilles while warming up for the Wildcats’ first scrimmage. Like Thomas, Jackson’s game developed dramatically before his injury, putting himself in position to replace Jamin Davis as UK’s starting middle linebacker.
Unlike the depth concerns at linebacker, there are multiple players who can be the “next man up” in Thomas’ absence. Isaiah Epps arrived in Lexington with Thomas in ’17. He has experience and the ideal speed to extend the defense vertically, but he too has struggled with injuries. Rahsaan Lewis and Tae Tae Crumes each made their fair share of big plays throughout spring practice while true freshman Chauncey Magwood showed plenty of promise from the slot position.
It’s a shame that timing has never been on Thomas’ side. Here’s to a speedy recovery.