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Is Ryan Timmons a Bust?

Ryan Timmons The University of Kentucky football team falls to Tennessee 52-21 at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, October 31, 2015. Photo by Britney Howard | UK Athletics

Timing is everything. In decision making, telling a joke, cooking…and success.

The right people have to come together at the right time and make the most of their situation. Otherwise, things might never get off the ground and all involved will be labeled failures.

At this point in his Kentucky career, it might be fair to say Ryan Timmons hasn’t met his expectations. But, that isn’t necessarily his fault.

Timmons had offers from 11 programs and was being heavily courted by Ohio St. and Florida before committing his his home state school. When he did, many BBNers rejoiced and dreamt of all the Craig Yeast-like plays he would make in a Wildcat uniform. UK, after all, was attempting on bringing back the “Air Raid”.

Stoops’ rookie roster in 2013 may have been the worst in the Power 5 Conferences. It had zero offensive playmakers and major questions across the board. Now throw a kid that’s used to seeing 4A Central KY football into SEC action with QBs who couldn’t read a defense and a suspect offensive line; all the while anointing him to carry the torch of prolific UK wide receivers. Since he was swayed away from Gainesville and Columbus, many assumed Timmons had big-time, can’t miss talent due to big-time school’s recruiting him.

This should come to no surprise, but freshmen don’t have the same impact in football as they do on the hardwood. But, some expected Timmons, JoJo Kemp, Jason Hatcher, and others to come in and make noise in the SEC. As we know all too well, no such thing happened.

Though Timmons came in known as a great receiver in space, he could not produce with Kentucky’s dismal QB situation. Screens, sweeps, and wildcat formation concepts were all called for Timmons. But, nothing could jolt the lackluster offense his freshman year.

With a more forthright attempt to throw the ball his sophomore year, Timmons became an early favorite target for Pat Towles. Though he would excel in games, he would disappear or shrink up in others. He ended up leading the Cats in receiving and looked to breakout as an upperclassman.

But with Shannon Dawson calling the shots on offense once former OC Neal Brown became head coach at Troy, Timmons’ role belittled. He started only one game and totaled 12 catches for 114 yards and one score. Despite the poor season, Timmons continues to have lofty expectations.

 

When asked earlier this week’s by an Alabama beat writer at the SEC Media Days on his senior receiver, Stoops said:

 “I still have extremely high expectations for (Timmons). I believe he’s going to have a great year. I said that a year ago, and he didn’t maybe have as good of a year as he wanted to or we wanted him to, but I really believe he’s going to come out and have a strong senior year.”

“He’s a kid that really works hard, does the right things. He’s one of our big targets, big recruits out of Kentucky my first year there. And I really, again, believe and have a lot of confidence that he’s going to have a solid year. He’s very good with the ball in his hands. He’s worked hard each and every year to become a great wide receiver and do the things necessary when he’s away from the football to get open and do all those things. And I believe if he stays on course and continues to have a great summer, then he’ll have a big year.”

But after three up-and-down seasons, Timmons enters his Senior year with one last chance to leave a lasting legacy. To date, Timmons has totaled 988 yards on 89 catches with 5 TDs. His reception rate (times targeted/catches) is a subpar 63%. Plus like the other wide-outs, he has dropped a fair share of passes.

Despite ranking seventh on the team in receiving a year ago, Timmons is entering 2016 as UK’s starting slot WR with Dorian Baker and Garrett Johnson at the X and Z, respectively. In the past, Stoops has put a premium on experience when giving starting spots. It was the main reason Towles won the QB job last summer against Drew Barker.

Ever since he signed with Kentucky, unfair expectations have been placed on Timmons. By the recruiting sites, he was never considered to be an instant impact player. But since UK simply had no one else for take the reps away from him, he saw got plenty of reps and was a big part of the gameplan.

It is interesting to wonder how he would’ve fit in at Florida or Ohio St. Bigger programs often have more player turnover and washouts due to enhanced competition for playing time. But, stars are born under the right coach.

Ohio St. is a perennial contender and Florida is trying to break back through to the main stage. While Ohio St. has consistently produced high numbers the past few years, Florida has been hit-and-miss due to its own QB woes. Still, both have been better situations that UK the past few years.

If Timmons was a Buckeye or a Gator, I’m guessing not a single person would count on him to be a program savior let alone an All-Conference player. He would just be another three star wide receiver who might become something in a few years and he would never have the stigma of being considered a bust due to low expectations.

But in a program where locals knew who he was, more was needed of underclassmen, and a first-time head coach was looking to make a splash, Timmons never had the option to simply blend in and fly under the radar. He was shoved center stage before he could master the performance.

For this season to be a success, Timmons needs to be relevant in the passing game and eliminate costly mistakes. With a greater emphasis on the ground game, Timmons is sure to see fewer targets so he needs to make the most of the balls that come his way. As a senior, he will be looked upon to be a leader and come up big in clutch spots in order to the program to create some momentum after stalling the past two years.

This is Timmons’ last shot. The weeks are dwindling to prove his has the skills to make UK’s offense prolific and win ball games. Personally, I don’t think he will start come first game. After seeing three years of inconsistent play with countless chances, I feel its time to give some underclassmen more playing time.

The timing might have been just off for Timmons to shine in the Blue and White. He still has 12 games to either play out a forgettable career or give us a season we’d love to remember.

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Clark Brooks
Clark Brooks
Former two-time football state champion at Lexington Catholic High School. Graduated with Journalism and Marketing B.A.s from the University of Kentucky. Featured in six different publications. Humungous football fan, avid basketball fan, and sports business and advertising professional. BBN

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