LEXINGTON – Kentucky’s latest reinforcement from the wide reception area comes from the 2021 SEC football champion.
Junior wide receiver Javon Baker announced Friday that he will be transferring from Alabama to Kentucky. Baker, a former four-star recruit from Atlanta, Georgia, entered the transfer portal shortly after Alabama lost to Georgia in the national championship game.
Baker appeared in 21 games over two seasons at Alabama, but struggled to break through in the Crimson Tide’s loaded wide receiver rotation. He caught seven passes for 101 yards and one touchdown in 12 games this season.
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The 6-foot-2, 206-pound receiver opened the season with three catches for 21 yards against Miami. Three games later, he made two catches for 59 yards and one touchdown against Southern Miss. Baker caught just two passes in the last eight games.
Rivals.com placed Baker just outside the top 100 high school class prospects of 2020. Kentucky also offered Baker a high school scholarship, but he committed to Alabama more than a year before signing day.
How Javon Baker Fits into the Kentucky Football 2022 Roster
If Virginia Tech transfer Tayvion Robinson is Kentucky’s replacement for record-setting wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, then Baker is the Wildcats’ likely replacement for No. 2 receiver Josh Ali, who used up his eligibility in 2021.
Unlike Alabama, where the receiver’s broad depth chart was filled with future NFL draft picks, Baker instantly becomes one of the most experienced options in Kentucky. He could start alongside Robinson and junior DeMarcus Harris, who posted a strong second half of the 2021 season.
Kentucky will also return senior Clevan Thomas, a closing receiver who missed the 2021 season with a knee injury, and a host of largely unproven underclassmen. Sophomore curators Chris Lewis, Chauncey Magwood and Dekel Crowdus will have the opportunity to earn bigger roles during spring training. Kentucky also returns to Louisville-born Tae Tae Crumes, who was often cited as a breakthrough contender for the 2021 season but only got one pass while playing in four games, and walk-on Rahsaan Lewis, the son of former NFL star Ray Lewis who caught two last season passed.
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The Wildcats also charged receivers in the 2022 signing class, led by four-star prospects Barion Brown and Dane Key. Key, a Lexington has enrolled in the UK for the spring semester.
Some of the pressure on the young receivers to act will be eased as Kentucky is likely to make heavy use of multiple tight end sets with Brenden Bates, Izayah Cummings and Keaton Upshaw. Upshaw, who was expected to be one of Kentucky’s top receiving options, missed the entire 2021 season with an undisclosed injury.
What’s next for football recruiting in Kentucky?
The Baker and Robinson additions meet the need for experienced broad receivers, but further transfer portal commitments are likely to be needed in other positions.
The most obvious need is in offensive tackle, where Kentucky lost both starters Darian Kinnard and Dare Rosenthal in the NFL draw. Starting left guard Kenneth Horsey was able to tackle just like in the Citrus Bowl, opening a starting spot for Auburn’s attacking guard Tashawn Manning, but none of the returning options in tackle has been proven.
As a sophomore, Jeremy Flax played in 11 out of 13 games in 11 out of 13 games in 2021. Redshirt freshman Deondre Buford and freshman David Wohlabaugh played in two games. UK added five-star signer Kiyaunta Goodwin, a Louisville native who played at Charlestown High School in southern Indiana, to its roster this spring.
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Kentucky also has to replace two of its top three cornerbacks. Zah Frazier, the No. 1 junior-college cornerback in the country according to Rivals.com, was expected to fill one of those gaps after signing with the UK in December, but earlier this month threw his commitment to Texas. -San Antonio to.
Edge rusher has become a minor position after the return of outside linebacker Jordan Wright for his extra year of eligibility.
Email Jon Hale at: firstname.lastname@example.org; Follow him on Twitter @JonHale_CJ.