April 4, 2012

Phillips hopes senior receiver will pick up the pace

UK head coach Joker Phillips expects his upperclassmen to understand the value of spring practice. In past seasons he's noticed that the younger guys feed off the veteran's intensity.

That's why Phillips was surprised and disappointed to see one senior not setting the tone. Phillips was less than impressed with wide receiver La'Rod King's effort.

"(I haven't seen the same intensity) not always, no," Phillips said. "La'Rod is one of those guys that needs to go, go a little bit faster. Those (younger) guys are following him and there have been a few times we've had to get on La'Rod to go faster."

King had 40 receptions for 598 yards and seven touchdowns last year, all tops on the team. But his seniority doesn't allow for excuses, Phillips said.

To try and get extra reps for younger players in practice, the Wildcats are trying to move faster between drills and plays. Hustling to generate extra time can give the team enough room for a few extra plays each practice. Across 15 practices in the spring, those extra plays can add up.

"La'Rod doesn't need as many reps as those younger guys so he doesn't see the importance of us going faster," Phillips said. "But the one thing La'Rod does is he knows what to do, and he's trying to lead them but he has to understand he has to lead them with the way he practices also."

Six of King's seven touchdowns came in the first seven games of the season. He slumped after that, though, scoring one touchdown and averaging 2.6 receptions per game for an average of 15.3 yards.

He's no stranger to spring practice - this is his third time through. He knew Phillips was disappointed with his effort but King noted around this time every year fatigue sets in.

"I'm a little dead, I'm a little dehydrated, and I'm going to get in the cold tub and get my legs back," King said. "I'm a little sluggish."

Despite being tired King still considers himself a leader. But he admitted there is still room to improve.

"Anyone can improve on it but I lead by example," King said. "Either you follow me or you don't that's pretty much it. I can't do it for you. A lot of young guys are catching on to it but it's a work in progress."

King said this part of the season is just seeing what each player can do and getting comfortable with one another. No one receiver has stood out according to King.

"It comes to reps under pressure, anyone can play in practice but when pressure comes like in the Blue and White scrimmage, that's where you see who can perform," King said.

One possible concern is the receivers not knowing who their quarterback will be. That might bother some receivers, but it's no issue to King.

"Whoever it is, as long as you get me the ball I'm cool as hell," King said.

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