One of the more underwhelming units on the Kentucky Wildcats roster in recent years has been the wide receiving corps.
Could that be due to quarterback play? Sure. But if the Wildcats are going to get over the 7 win hump, they are going to need all of their receivers to take a huge step forward.
Rising junior Tavin Richardson’s development will play a huge role in measuring that group’s success.
#11 Tavin Richardson
Position: Wide receiver
Measurements: 6’3”, 207 lbs.
Hometown: Greer, SC
School: Byrnes High School
Recruit Rankings: No. 72 wide receiver in 2015 according to ESPN, No. 20 tight end according to Rivals
After redshirting in the 2015 season, Richardson has seen steady growth in each year on the field for Kentucky. He caught 9 passes for 160 yards in 2016 with 74 of those yards coming in the season opener against Southern Miss. That team had a lot of depth at the receiver position, and it was a great opportunity for Richardson to learn from veterans and ease his way into the college game.
After Dorian Baker’s unfortunate preseason ankle injury in 2017, Richardson was asked to grow up a little faster than expected. He accumulated 27 catches for 371 yards and his first career touchdown last year and was second on the team in both catches and receiving yards.
Tavin Richardson with his 1st career touchdown. pic.twitter.com/17qGG196g4— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 30, 2017
Given his size, Richardson has proven to be a big weapon in short yardage and will likely be utilized in goal line situations in his junior campaign. He is a big target with great hands and has shown the ability to make difficult catches in big moments.
With Dorian Baker back in the fold, Lynn Bowden continuing to grow, and CJ Conrad being completely healthy it is likely that Richardson will be the 4th option in the passing game. That could be frustrating considering he was second on the team in receiving last season, but that means he will have to find himself a niche to stand out this season.
It could also be the case that Baker and Bowden will draw so much attention that Richardson will find himself open more often. There are definitely both positives and negatives when it comes to being a talented receiver on a team with decent depth at the position.
Then again, he could just wait for Bowden to take the snap and make another huge play.
Of course, one question mark in Richardson’s productivity will be the quarterback battle. If Gunnar Hoak gets the starting nod, there will likely be more balls for the receiving corps to catch. But after watching spring practice and the Blue-White game, it seems Terry Wilson and Richardson have a connection that could make the South Carolina native a primary target should Wilson win the job.
Terry Wilson to Tavin Richardson. Wilson and Hoak just alternated with the first team. pic.twitter.com/LwaRsyCOYb— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) April 5, 2018
If Richardson’s progression continues as it has in his first two seasons, he could have a big year and become an All-SEC type receiver. But given the circumstances, there is also a scenario where is the odd man out and has to wait another year for his time to shine.
What role do you see Tavin Richardson playing for the Wildcats this season?