LEXINGTON — DeMarcus Sweat knows that no matter how physically gifted he may be, no matter how many balls he may catch, nothing will matter if he does not know his plays.
“You’ve got to know that playbook,” the freshman receiver from Lithonia, Ga., said. “I just want to come in ready to work and benefit the team as much as I can, and getting in the playbook.”
Sweat mentioned knowing his playbook numerous times during UK’s media day last week. For him it means the difference in playing time and being on the sideline.
“It’s pretty big. You’ve just got to know your stuff on the field so it makes everything come natural,” he said.
And if he can get the playbook down, Sweat has more than enough natural talent to make plays.
He was ranked as one of the top 80 prospects in Georgia and one of the top 100 receivers in the nation by ESPN as a senior. He has been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds, and had three punt returns and three kickoff returns for touchdowns his senior season at Stephenson High School.
Kentucky coach Joker Philips — who has likened Sweat to former UK receiver Dicky Lyons — is looking for athletic playmakers to help what was an underachieving wide receiving corps last year. If it’s some of the freshmen who can do it, that’s what Sweat is there for.
“Me and (freshman) A.J. (Legree), we’re pretty tight and we’re both just on the same page about coming in, getting the playbook and coming ready to work,”¿Sweat said. “Hopefully, that’s the plan, just come in here, learn the playbook and work hard during camp. And if it works out, great.”
Sweat continues a recent pipeline of players from Stephenson High School to Kentucky.
Sweat is joined in the freshman class by defensive back Shawn Blaylock, who is going to miss this season with a knee injury. He also has former teammates Jabari Johnson, Raymond Sanders and Ronnie Shield at Kentucky, and he said that was a big selling point for him.
“They were really big. When they came up here, and when Kentucky offered, it just made it easier because I felt at home,” Sweat said. “Coming up here with three older guys that you went to high school with, and they were already like big brothers to me, it takes a lot of the normal stress off a freshman knowing you have three big brothers who can help you.”
Now it’s up to Sweat to make a name for himself, and for him it all starts with the playbook.