Wide receiver Jeff Badet announced his transfer from Kentucky Friday on the third day of the spring semester.
Badet would have entered his fifth season in Lexington following a solid 2016 season that saw him lead the team in receptions (31) and yards (670). He averaged a whopping 22 yards per catch, and caught 55% of his targets. He wasn’t consistent enough to be considered a great receiver, but he was explosive enough to elevate his status and UK’s offense by extension.
2016 was a relatively new role for Badet. In 2015, Badet similarly caught 29 balls, also averaged his two catches per game, but had only 430 yards receiving. In 2013, Badet only played in 10 games but averaged two catches per game for 285 yards on the season. Today we think of Badet as a vertical threat, but this began to occur later in his career after paired with a quarterback who excelled at the throw.
The departure of Boom Williams and Badet removes the two most explosive players from Kentucky’s offense, but it’s doubtful the coaching staff weren’t aware and preparing for this possibility. Williams has seemed like a foregone conclusion for at least the last year, but Badet’s departure may have been suspected in the football offices for just as long.
I was contacted nearly two years ago by someone with plausible access who told me Badet almost transferred on the heels of his medical redshirt season of 2014. Apparently, this continues into last season too as Mark Stoops publicly noted in October.
Whether Badet has considered a move for years or not, he came to Lexington when the program was at its zenith and leaves after co-leading the charge for a seven-win season. His transfer stock has never been higher, and the program has been rebuilt. You can only wish him well at his next stop.
So, what does this mean going forward for Kentucky’s offense? Losing Williams and Badet instantly take away UK’s most explosive play-makers of the 2016 season. UK’s offense will have to adapt and develop their players.
...The same as any other off-season.
Dorian Baker is UK’s most physically gifted receiver. The 6’3’’ receiver was electronically timed running a low 4.5 forty in high school. He’s shown burst in college if not consistency; however, he finished the 2016 season healthy along with two deep ball touchdown passes against Louisville and Georgia Tech. Both of those catches would have made most players highlight reels regardless of who they are and where they play. If he finds consistency, the sky is the limit.
Along with Baker is inside receiver Garrett Johnson who has averaged 15 yards per catch each of the last two season. After those two exists multiple young and unproven options to include Dakota Holtzclaw, Kayaune Ross, and Jabari Greenwood.
It’s an open question if any of those guys will stretch the defense, but as his resume proves, Badet didn’t develop into a deep ball threat until several seasons himself.
That goes without saying an offense is the sum of its parts all working off one another. A great running game begets believable play-action. A vertical threat begets six-man boxes.
Four years ago the losses of Williams and Badet would have been a troubling sign, but partly thanks to them, it no longer is the case.