Unfortunately for new Kentucky Wildcats offensive coordinator Liam Coen, his current job as assistant quarterbacks coach for the Los Angeles Rams ended Saturday with a 32-18 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFL playoffs.
Fortunately for Coen and the Kentucky fanbase, the excitement surrounding his arrival in Lexington along with new offensive weapons, returning veterans, and the return of a local football star only ramps up the hopes of a program and fanbase yearning to make the next step in the progression of becoming an annually strong SEC football program.
When Coen begins work of building a new Wildcat offensive scheme that will feature more passing and achieving balance with the running game, the talent he will have to feature will be among the best the Cats have had in recent memory.
Star running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. and offensive tackle Darian Kinnard are the two highest-graded players at their position returning in all of college football.
Top RBs returning in College Football⚡️ pic.twitter.com/bbStDZECxw— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 15, 2021
Top returning offensive linemen in CFB pic.twitter.com/XmsevNcWDg— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 15, 2021
Wide receiver Josh Ali will also return for another season after leading the Cats in receiving along with veteran tight ends Justin Rigg and Keaton Upshaw, both NFL prospects.
Standout offensive lineman Luke Fortner also returns to the “Big Blue Wall” with Kinnard and will join returning starters Kenneth Horsey and Austin Dotson to give the Cats ample talent and experience upfront.
The 2021 recruiting class features three incoming freshmen that immediately boost the receiving corps. Christian Lewis, a 6-4 wideout from Alabama, has star written all over him. Lewis is long and lean with great hands and plenty of speed. Lewis chose the Cats over Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Notre Dame.
A name to remember is Devonte Ross. Ross is from Cartersville, Georgia.
Why is this important? Ross was a receiver for Clemson All-American Trevor Lawrence. The Cats beat out Washington and Marshall to land Ross.
The third wideout worth mentioning is in-state product Dekel Crowdus. A 5-10 product from Lexington’s Frederick Douglass, Crowdus is known for his game-breaking speed and explosiveness. Crowdus chose to stay home and play over schools like Ohio State, Michigan, and Oklahoma.
The Cats also received a tremendous boost to the program when receiver Wan’Dale Robinson chose to transfer from Nebraska back home to Kentucky. The nation’s number one all-purpose back coming out of Western Hills High School in Frankfort, Robinson was extremely productive in his two years in Lincoln. Robinson had over 1,400 yards rushing and receiving for the Cornhuskers. He is expected to be used primarily as a slot receiver in Coen’s offense.
So as one season ends, one season begins. This upcoming season could be special for Coen and the Wildcats.