LEXINGTON¿— Kentucky football coach Joker Phillips was looking for a few good playmakers during his team’s annual Blue-White football game Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.
One of those players who could make an impact this fall is receiver Demarco Robinson, who made nine catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns, giving Phillips and his staff optimism at the conclusion of spring workouts.
Another potential offensive threat could be quarterback Max Smith, who threw for 353 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Smith had a pair of interceptions and took one sack. The yardage amassed by Smith through the air could be a sign of things to come next season.
“We have been throwing quite a bit,” Smith said afterward. “I think we are going to see a bit more passing in the fall. Coach said to expect 70-30 today (and) that’s what it was.”
The passing game also received a bonus from tight end Tyler Robinson, who hauled in five catches for 75 yards and even caught a 26-yard pass from Smith.
Ronnie Shields, also contributed with 42 yards on three catches.
“You hadn’t heard a lot about Tyler Robinson because he’s kind of one of those guys that just rolls up the sleeves and goes to work and doesn’t say a lot,” the Kentucky coach said. “Not real flashy. He’s a guy who likes to get his nose bloodied and bloody other peoples’ nose. And he catches the football. And that’s what he did today. He made some big plays for us. One real tough catch that was thrown a little bit behind him but he goes up and catches the back end of it and makes a big play for us. I’m really pleased with our tight end play.”
And then there is linebacker Alvin “Bud” Dupree, one of the team’s bright spots on defense throughout spring workouts.
“Defensively, you keep hearing the buzz about Bud Dupree and you saw it,” Phillips said. “The guy is so fast off the edge. He’s what we have to block week in and week out.
“He’s a real guy. He’s a Southeastern Conference outside linebacker-rush backer.”
In the secondar, Martavious Neloms has been a pleasant surprise, not only on the field, but off the field as well.
“Neloms is becoming the leader we need him to be,” Phillips said.”He’s becoming the guy we can trust off the field. He takes care of his business in the classroom and those things. Those things matter and (Martavius) is getting it now. They don’t always do it as fast as we want them, and this is (Martavius) last year, but he’s getting it, which gives him the chance to lead. Because if a leader isn’t doing what he’s supposed to do, nobody’s going to follow you. Now they’re starting to follow him because he’s doing what he’s supposed to off the field, he’s getting to places on time and all those things.
“Therefore, he’s able to lead and when he talks now people listen to him. It’s also helped in his play. He’s playing a lot better than he’s ever played around here. He’s always been a good player.
“Now we think he can be a great player with the way he’s leading.”
Overall, Phillips was happy with his third spring as the team’s head coach.
“I’m really pleased with the progress that we’ve made,” he said.