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By LARRY VAUGHT
If Franklin County receiver Ryan Timmons doesn’t go to Kentucky, it won’t be because new UK coach Mark Stoops was not personable enough.
On a recent visit to Frankfort, Stoops did everything necessary to impress Timmons, his mother and Franklin coach Chris Tracy. Stoops asked to meet Franklin teachers, asked about the type students attending Franklin and even shot basketball with members of the girls basketball team.
“For him to want to go around and meet teaches, that was really a big thing. For me to have a big-time coach want to do that with the teachers, that impressed me,” said Tracy. “But this is a guy who wanted this job. I don’t know that even Rich Brooks really sought out the Kentucky job. That’s very important that Stoops sought out this job and you can tell how much he enjoys having the job.
“Coach Stoops impresses people very easily. He has that great coaching pedigree and is very, very personable. You see that intensity on the sidelines, but he brings a charming personality to the table, too. He is somebody you could meet in a store and talk to. His personality really endears him to people.”
Tracy said UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown also related well to Timmons.
“It’s easy with Neal Brown. He is a very laid back person and very easy to like,” Tracy said. “I get calls from coaches really worked up that Ryan did not call back exactly on time. Neal is a lot more laid back and not a lot upsets him. I think they understand he is one of the kids they really need and Ryan understands he is one of the players they really want. Number one, he’s an in-state kid. Number two, he’s really talented.
“Ryan and coach Brown have a great relationship. They talk about the offense and it is almost identical stuff that we do. They really get along very well.”
Timmons was back at UK for an unofficial visit last weekend and watched the Kentucky basketball team beat LSU. His mother, who had n ever been to a UK basketball game, made the trip with him.
“He has a very difficult decision ahead of him picking a school,” Tracy said. “But I tell him on a daily basis that this time next year he will be doing what he loves. He’s going to be playing on the offensive side of the ball for a good school. He’ll probably be what we call an H-back so he has the ability to line up in the slot, motion to the backfield, run a jet sweep and get good matchups with his speed.
“He can do so many things. Until his sophomore year, he was not even a receiver. He was just a running back until then. But we wanted to make it so people could not hone in on him, so we started moving him around. His versatility makes him such a good player. That and his speed and instincts. I remember a game his junior year at Anderson County where three defenders were converging on him, he stopped, cut and all three ran into each other as he went into the end zone.”
Timmons will make his college choice known Tuesday at 1 p.m. during a ceremony at the high school. That’s a day before the national signing period begins, but Timmons will be attending a DECA competition at the University of Kentucky on Feb. 6 — signing day.
“We just thought it would be better to get his announcement out of the way before he went to the DECA competition,” Tracy said. “All along we talked about being deliberate and even taking his mom with him places to make sure she saw what he saw. I think deep down Ryan knows where he wants to go but he has not told anybody.
“What I have been most impressed with in the last month with all the coaches coming in is that he has kept his 4.0 grade-point average. His goal is to graduate with a 3.5. He came into the year with a 3.0 and has to have a 4.0 for the year to do that. Right now he has a 3.25, but he wants to get to 3.5. He’s very goal oriented like that and his mom has done a wonderful job of keeping him focused. Overall, he’s just matured and handled all this signing pressure very well.
“I couldn’t imagine being 18 years old and making this decision. He’s under a microscope. If he goes anywhere, it is tweeted out what he’s doing. Ryan just got a Twitter account three or four months ago and already has over 2,000 followers. It’s crazy, but he’s handled it all very well and it is almost over now.”