Walker-Johnson connection comes up big late in games


Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Charles Walker runs down field during the blue white spring game at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday, April 14, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff

In football games this season, fans have seen Stephen Johnson spread the ball around all his pass catchers instead of picking one certain receiver to focus all his passes on.

However, if it’s late in the game, or the Cats are presented with a third down situation, Johnson knows he can always find one certain receiver open.

“Just knowing where he’s going to be and then he knows exactly where I want him at or how deep he’s going to run or where he’s going to break out, if he’s going to break in or break out on different routes,” Johnson said of senior wide out Charles Walker. “It’s just repetition in practice.”

Walker has been Johnson’s go-to receiver in critical moments of UK’s biggest games this season. Against Florida on the final drive, Walker caught a 14-yard pass on fourth down to bring Kentucky into field goal range to keep their chances of winning alive.

Against Ole Miss on UK’s then-game winning drive, Walker caught a five-yard pass on 3rd in 3 to keep the drive going. What made the catch more impressive was the ball was thrown over Walker’s head and he didn’t secure the ball until he was falling to the ground.

While both of those games ended in losses, the possibility of winning wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for Johnson trusting in Walker.

“It’s just chemistry with me and him, trusting he’s going to put it there,” Walker said.

If Walker isn’t open, Johnson has been able to find other receivers, or Benny Snell to lead game winning drives, as Johnson had led eight game winning drives in his career, two this season.

The Cats have typically struggled to come up with clutch plays in previous years, but with Johnson, the Cats have been competitive in nearly every game they’ve played in late in the fourth quarter.

“He’s obviously our offense leader, and just before these drives he’s just saying, ‘Guys we’ve done this before, we do it in practice every week, calm down, do your job and the outcome is going to be good,’” Walker said. “That’s what we do and so far it’s been good offensively.”

However, it’s not just Johnson responsible for these game winning drives, as all members of the offense play a key role in getting the Cats down the field.

“We realize when we need to step it up and kind of when to be calm and that’s when we have our best drives, when everyone’s calm, has trust in themselves that they’re going to do their job,” Walker said. “Once we have 11 guys doing their job, the offense clicks.”