Timmons motivated for last hurrah at UK


Kentucky wide receiver Ryan Timmons celebrates during the second half of the Kentucky Wildcats game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, October 25, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Mississippi State defeated Kentucky 45-31. Photo by Adam Pennavaria | Staff

Kevin Erpenbeck

Go ahead and ask Ryan Timmons about last year. He’s not hiding from it.

Instead, the senior wide receiver plans on using the disappointing year as motivation for one last hurrah at Kentucky.

“I was really disappointed in my play, probably the most upset I’ve been after any season in football,” Timmons said about his junior season. “This is my last year, so I’ve really been more focused than I have been any year of me playing football.”

Timmons was a highly-touted player coming into UK as part of head coach Mark Stoops’ 2013 recruiting class. The 5-foot-10 wide out from Franklin County High School was rated near the top of the group and had turned down offers from Florida, Ohio State and Arkansas.

College football started out well for Timmons. He started six games as a freshman, caught 32 passes for 338 yards and got into the end zone twice during the season.

Then Timmons was the leading receiver at UK during his sophomore year as he hauled in 45 receptions for 536 yards and two touchdowns.

After that, many had speculated that Timmons was due for a huge junior year, and the UK coaching staff was all but predicting it would happen.

Instead, utter disappointment. Timmons went from a leading receiver to nearly bringing up the rear of wide outs with 12 receptions and only one start on the season.

“Last year was so disappointing that I feel like it was a waste on my part just because I feel like I didn’t get any better at all,” Timmons said.

It was a disappointing year for UK as a team, in fact. The Cats had lost six of their final seven games and missed another bowl game after finishing 5-7 on the year. Stoops fired then offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord as part of an overhaul to the staff. He then brought in Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw from Cincinnati to be co-offensive coordinators and got Lamar Thomas from Louisville to coach wide receivers.

Before spring practices had begun this year, Timmons sat down with Stoops and the new staff to discuss his role and future with the team. It was then that Timmons developed the motivation for his last year at UK, and how to turn disappointment into redemption.

“Just really sitting down with Coach Hinshaw and Coach Gran and talking about how I have about four or five months left of college football, and then I’ll be done,” Timmons said. “I’m just going out there and practicing every day like it’s my last play.”

Related: UK Football Media Day 2016

Timmons has acknowledged that the new offensive system of Gran and Hinshaw has really let the wide receivers be more open and not stick primarily to         one route. It’s allowed Timmons to be more comfortable on the practice field and has given him more confidence in his ability.

The coaching staff really took notice of the change Timmons has shown thus far, making him one of the standout players during spring practices.

“He’s making the routine plays look routine,” Stoops said of Timmons. “We’re throwing the ball over the middle in (the run-pass options), and he makes difficult catches in traffic and turning it up and making some yards.”

Timmons continued to show improvement during the summer training camp as well, landing him a first string wide receiver position for UK’s season opener against Southern Miss on Saturday.

Its all been in effort to make the last season of his colligate career a spectacular one.

“Timmons has no choice but to have that last hurrah great season,” Thomas said. “This is it, and that’s the first thing I said to him. He gets on himself and he wants to be better. I said [to him], ‘Hey man, whatever happened last year and the years before, that’s out the window. This is a new year and your last year, and let’s just go get it.’”

To Timmons, the path to moving past last season starts with Saturday. But he’ll never forget his previous failures.

Instead, he’ll keep using them as motivation for one last year.

“This is a big year for me, and I’m excited,” Timmons said. “Just me being out there and being a player that this team can go to make plays and score. We’re trying to score points and we need guys who can step up, and hopefully I can do that for this team.”