FRANKFORT, Ky. – Ryan Timmons spent most of his senior season making opponents cry. On Tuesday, it was the Franklin County star’s turn to tear up.
During an emotional ceremony in his high school’s gymnasium, a misty-eyed Timmons announced that he would be staying home to play football for Mark Stoops’ Kentucky program. He picked the Wildcats over Florida, Ohio State and Illinois.
“Coach (Chris) Tracy told me I was going to get emotional, but I didn’t listen to him,” Timmons said. “… You have that moment when it just comes out and you can’t really stop it.”
Opponents found no way to stop Timmons during his career with the Flyers. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound running back/receiver accounted for 2,368 (41 percent) of Franklin County’s 5,781 yards of total offense last season. He had 83 rushing attempts for 1,364 yards and 26 touchdowns. He caught 33 passes for 1,004 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also averaged 84.7 yards on kickoff returns, taking back all three times opponents dared to challenge his 4.4 speed and jaw-dropping elusiveness for touchdowns.
Timmons finished his senior season with 45 touchdowns on only 124 touches, scoring every 2.7 times he had the ball in his hands.
"He's a once-in-a-lifetime kid," Tracy said. "... There were times when the fans and even some of his teammates were surprised if he didn't score."
Asked what position he expects to play at Kentucky, Timmons had the perfect answer to match his gaudy stat sheet.
“Really, as a playmaker,” he said. “Coach (Neal) Brown wants to score touchdowns, score points. That’s what I like to do, score touchdowns, so it kinda matched up like that.”
The addition of Timmons gives new UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown another weapon to use in his version of the “Air Raid” offense he learned while playing under Hal Mumme. Wide receiver was a major focal point of the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts since Stoops was named head coach in Decemeber, and Timmons joins junior college transfer Javess Blue and Florida standouts Jeff Badet and Alex Montgomery in a suddenly-restocked UK receiving corps.
Timmons said he expects to play mostly in the slot for the Cats, although Brown has indicated that he also wants to use him out of the backfield at times to create mismatches and take advantage of his ability to make plays in open space.
One of the biggest revelations to come out of Timmons’s press conference less than 24 hours before national signing day was that he had waning interest in UK prior to the coaching change.
“Honestly, no, they weren’t (in the mix),” he said. “I was kind of falling away from Kentucky before coach Stoops came. But then he came and talked to me, and they are going to run the same offense that we do (at FCHS) so that’s kind of what got my attention.”
Timmons was one of the first stops the new staff made when they set out recruiting in their new UK attire. He was told he was the top priority, and that went a long way toward convincing him to take a second look at staying home.
"It showed how much they cared," Timmons said. "They could have went to any player's house at all. Coach Stoops can get on a jet and go wherever he wants, but he chose to send coach (D.J.) Eliot down to see me first. It showed how much they want me and how much they care about me."
Although he's going to line up on the offensive side of the ball, Timmons liked UK's choice of a proven, defensive-oriented head coach.
“(Stoops) said they’re going to turn things around,” he said. “Then he showed me his resume on defensive ranks in the country. He’s been top five in defense everywhere he’s been, so I think offensive guys want the ball, they want the defense to be good so they can get it. That’s what kind of got me.”
When Brown arrived with his pass-happy offense from Texas Tech, that may have sealed the deal for UK.
“We have a good relationship,” Timmons said. “We hit it off the first day we talked.”
Letting the other coaches know he was going to be a Wildcat was not easy. Florida, which entered the picture late and managed to arrange an official visit last weekend, had former UK head coach Joker Phillips leading his recruitment.
“Last Thursday, I was pretty sure it was going to be Kentucky, but then I took my visit to Florida, and it kind of made me change my mind,” Timmons said. “But then (Monday) is when I made my final decision.
“I’m pretty sure (Phillips) thought it was up in the air. I didn’t let him know what I thought about other schools. He thought I was going to come to Florida, so when I told him, he was kind of disappointed… It was kind of tough. I’ve known him since I was a sophomore, so to tell him no was hard for me, but he said he had a feeling I was going to go to UK, so it wasn’t so bad.”
Timmons gives the Cats 21 verbal commitments on the eve of national signing day. Stoops is expected to formally announce between 23-25 new additions to the program on Wednesday afternoon during a 3 p.m. press conference at the Nutter Center.