Ryan Timmons looks for consistency while transforming into a leader

Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Ryan Timmons (1) runs downfield during the second half against the Ohio Bobcats at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, September 6, 2014 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky defeated Ohio 20-3. Photo by Michael Reaves

By Derek Terry

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For UK wide receiver Ryan Timmons, the search for consistency continues into his junior year.

Statistically, it’s difficult to find a receiver who has been better than Timmons the last two seasons. The Frankfort, Ky., native led the team in receptions in 2014 with 45 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns, while grabbing 32 receptions for 338 yards and two touchdowns in 2013, good for second on the team.

But there have been downfalls. Despite leading the team in receptions through 10 games last year, Timmons was moved to second team on the depth chart by head coach Mark Stoops for what he called “performance related” reasons.

Injuries have also played a role in Timmons’ ability to be as effective as possible. The 5-foot-10, 192-pound wide out battled through ankle and shoulder injuries much of last season. The shoulder injury resulted in surgery after last season ended, leading the receiver to miss spring practice earlier this year.

“Any injury in football is difficult,” Timmons said. “The game is so physical. Every play you’re hitting somebody or somebody is hitting you. That’s one thing that was kind of difficult last year, but that’s behind me now. I’m a lot healthier now, way healthier than I’ve ever been since I’ve been here.”

A healthy Timmons is important to the Cats air attack in 2015. While UK’s receiving core has the potential to be as deep and talented as it has ever been, the group lacks experience. Only Timmons has double digit starts (15) and no other receiver has played in more than 20 games in their career.

For this reason, Timmons has been adjusting to being a leader.

“It’s kind of weird to think that I’m one of the oldest guys in the room,” Timmons said. “Just last year I was one of the youngest and now we have all these new guys coming in so I’m one of the oldest. It’s fine, we just need to make sure we’re good role models for the guys coming up and just prepare them the way we were prepared by the older guys our freshman and sophomore years.”

The dynamic versatility that Timmons brings looks to be factored into the special teams return game this season. Timmons is still battling for the punt return spot with sophomores T.V. Williams and Garrett Johnson, but no starter has been named yet.

Flashbacks to the success that he had as a return man at Franklin County High School has Timmons anticipating the season even more.

“That’s one thing that I am excited for, just being able to have the opportunity to go out there on special teams and just have another way to get the ball and try to make plays.”