LEXINGTON — Ryan Timmons jump-started a lethargic practice for Kentucky’s wide receivers with an acrobatic catch in the end zone to highlight a rare open practice for the Wildcats here Tuesday.
A crowd of some 200 attended the practice and saw UK’s highly-touted group of young wideouts drop more passes than they caught through about half the 90 minute session.
But after a period of both 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 play, Timmons’ number was called, and he went up in traffic to make a tough catch on a thread-the-needle pass from quarterback Patrick Towles.
Timmons caught the ball just behind a cornerback and just in front of a safety, and fell hard to the ground for the score.
His effort touched off an entertaining celebration with Timmons’ teammates on the offensive side.
“He’s one of our better players, and that catch kind of got us going,” said UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown. “We were struggling. We had a first down period that was about even both ways, and then we struggled in the 7-on-7. Then I think it was third and long, and we called the same play he scored on against South Carolina, and he went up and made a great play and got us going.”
Timmons said this past Friday at UK’s media day that he sees himself as a guy who leads by example, and Tuesday’s play placed his philosophy front and center.
“We didn’t make a lot of completions in the 7-on-7, so we just needed somebody to step up and make a play,” Timmons said. “Coach Brown called my number, and I wanted to get the offense rolling with that catch.”
Timmons made a nice screen block a few minutes later that opened up the middle of the defense for freshman wideout Thaddeus Snodgrass to gather in a pass and score.
Timmons said that was a fun stretch of practice.
“It was fun, getting everybody excited and kind of getting the momentum going on our side,” Timmons said. “In that period, we beat the defense, and we had a lot of guys making plays.”
This was the second straight day of practice open to the public. There’s one more such session to go — Monday from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at the Nutter Training Center, across Cooper Drive from Commonwealth Stadium.
The Wildcats are preparing for their season opener vs. UT-Martin at noon on Aug. 30.
Brown said the kind of mixed results the fans saw Tuesday is typical of a roster loaded with so many freshmen and sophomores.
UK NOTES: Brown did not admit to any separation between Towles, Reese Phillips and Drew Barker at quarterback.
Towles took most of the snaps with the first-team offense Tuesday, but that’s just part of a planned rotation that had Barker leading the No. 1 offense on Monday and Phillips getting the nod at Tuesday’s practice.
Timmons said he’s been in periodic contact with Logan Woodside, his former teammate at Franklin County. Woodside is trying to win the quarterback job as a sophomore at the University of Toledo.
“I know he’s working hard, trying to get the starting nod at quarterback, and I’m working here, trying to be more consistent with my play,” Timmons said.