After Kentucky Football Club open training, let’s see more of these three wild cats

After attending Kentucky Open Football Training on Saturday’s Fan Day at the Joe Craft Football Training Center, here are three feral cats worth a second look (and more):

1. Barion Brown

New Nashville receiver earned a Media Day tribute from coach Mark Stubbs after the team’s initial training Wednesday morning. Saturday, Brown was among the first and second set of quarterback receiver Will Levis.

“At first we did a nice little ball for Barion in the team race and that was cool,” Levis said on Saturday. “He has really good speed and it’s nice to see his ball skills. He just needs to be more consistent. I know he can make shots, it’s just working with him and making sure he just feels the way I’m throwing the ball.”

Unlike producer Frederick Douglas Dane Key, who starred in a wide receiver during spring rehearsals, Brown didn’t report to camp until summer. However, coaches are clearly working with the four-star prospect of alternating quickly.

“This is definitely the most talented group we’ve got as a whole,” Stops said Saturday of the wide receivers. “We have really talented players here, but as a group we didn’t have that kind of depth with the talent we had.”

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Ramon Jefferson moved to Kentucky from the Sam Houston State Football League, where he was all-American. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

2. Ramon Jefferson

Despite his uncertain status, Chris Rodriguez took part in Saturday’s training, but what was most intriguing was Ramon Jefferson’s move to Houston.

The 5-foot-10, 215-pound Bronx of New York isn’t the tallest back, but he’s muscular and showed good speed as a pioneer making the edge.

“It’s a bowling ball. It’s a strong little mouse. It’s like Doug Martin,” Levis said. Bounce back when it’s supposed to bounce. He cuts it when it’s supposed to cut. When you see the tape, it immediately jumps out.”

When Jefferson officially committed to Kentucky this summer, the NFL Analyst Draft Emory HuntLee, who specializes in spotting Group Five and FCS players, said, “A phenomenal one-piece runner, on the slopes with an excellent blast. He has really good leg drive and the ability to be a breakout winner. I’m a huge fan of his game.”

3. Kidron Smith

The transfer from Ole Miss has been added to bring needed depth to a British high school that has been hit hard by graduation and injuries. However, don’t be surprised if Smith ends up as a starter in Buck’s Corner.

West Palm Beach, Florida, who weighs 6-2 and 204 pounds, has started 22 of the 47 games he’s seen action at Ole Miss. As a starter for two years, he made five interceptions, eight tackles for a loss and one bag.

He also has longtime friend Jackie Jones, the linebacker who moved to the UK from the Ole Miss last year, playing against him in Brad White’s defence.

“He’s a great player and a great person,” Jones said on Saturday. “We needed the volume and depth in the back corner and I feel he’s going to help us a lot.”

The two have an out-of-field connection as well.

“This is my roommate,” Jones said. “As soon as he got to the gate, I put him on a speed dial and told him, ‘Go ahead and get up here. We’re trying to do something special. We’ve got together at Ole Miss and we’re about to leave together in Kentucky. So let’s do something special.'”

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Defensive linebacker Kidron Smith (top) faced Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez with the help of fellow Ole Miss Sam Williams during a game in 2020. Smith transferred this season to the Wildcats. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

This story was originally published August 6, 2022 3:50 pm.

John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald Leader. A native of central Kentucky, he covered football in the UK from 1987 until he was named a sports columnist in 2000. He covered 20 Final Fours and 37 Kentucky Derbys in a row.
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