What Alabama football transfer Javon Baker's commitment means for Kentucky

·4 min read

LEXINGTON — Kentucky's latest reinforcement from the wide receiver room comes from the 2021 SEC football champion.

Junior wide receiver Javon Baker announced Friday he will transfer from Alabama to Kentucky. A former four-star recruit from Atlanta, Georgia, Baker entered the transfer portal shortly after Alabama lost to Georgia in the national championship game.

Baker appeared in 21 games across two seasons at Alabama but struggled to break into the Crimson Tide's loaded wide receiver rotation. He caught seven passes for 101 yards and one touchdown in 12 games this season.

Kentucky football roster: Who UK is losing and adding through the transfer portal during offseason

The 6-foot-2, 206-pound receiver opened the season with three catches for 21 yards against Miami. Three games later, he tallied two catches for 59 yards and one touchdown against Southern Miss. Baker caught just two passes in the final eight games.

Rivals.com ranked Baker just outside the top 100 prospects in the high school class of 2020. Kentucky also offered Baker a scholarship in high school, but he committed to Alabama more than a year before signing day.

How Javon Baker fits on Kentucky football 2022 roster

If Virginia Tech transfer Tayvion Robinson is Kentucky's replacement for record-setting wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, Baker is the Wildcats' likely replacement for No. 2 receiver Josh Ali, who exhausted his eligibility in 2021.

Unlike at Alabama, where the wide receiver depth chart was crowded with future NFL draft picks, Baker immediately becomes one of the most experienced options at Kentucky. He could start alongside Robinson and junior DeMarcus Harris, who posted a strong second half of the 2021 season.

Kentucky also is set to return senior Clevan Thomas, a slot receiver who missed the 2021 season with a knee injury, and a host of largely unproven underclassmen. Second-year receivers Chris Lewis, Chauncey Magwood and Dekel Crowdus will have a chance to earn larger roles in spring practice. Kentucky also returns Louisville native Tae Tae Crumes, who was frequently mentioned as a breakout candidate before the 2021 season but caught just one pass while playing in four games, and walk-on Rahsaan Lewis, the son of former NFL star Ray Lewis who caught two passes last season.

UK football roster: These players will use the extra year of eligibility to return to school

The Wildcats also loaded up on receivers in the 2022 signing class, led by four-star prospects Barion Brown and Dane Key. Key, a Lexington has enrolled at UK for the spring semester.

Some of the pressure on the young receivers to step up will be alleviated with Kentucky likely to make heavy use of multiple tight end sets featuring Brenden Bates, Izayah Cummings and Keaton Upshaw. Upshaw, who was expected to be one of Kentucky's top receiving options missed all of the 2021 season with an undisclosed injury.

What is next for Kentucky football recruiting

The additions of Baker and Robinson address the need for veteran wide receivers but further transfer portal commitments are likely needed at other positions.

The most obvious need is at offensive tackle, where Kentucky lost both starters Darian Kinnard and Dare Rosenthal to the NFL draft. Starting left guard Kenneth Horsey could move to tackle as he did in the Citrus Bowl, opening a starting spot for Auburn offensive guard transfer Tashawn Manning, but none of the returning options at tackle are proven.

Jeremy Flax played in 11 of 13 games as a reserve tackle as a sophomore in 2021. Redshirt freshman Deondre Buford and freshman David Wohlabaugh played in two games. UK added five-star signee Kiyaunta Goodwin, a Louisville native who played at Charlestown High School in Southern Indiana, to the roster this spring.

Kentucky football: Mark Stoops to hire brother Mike as Kentucky football linebackers coach

Kentucky must also replace two of its top three cornerbacks. Zah Frazier, the No. 1-ranked junior-college cornerback in the country according to Rivals.com, was expected to fill one of those holes after signing with UK in December but flipped his commitment to Texas-San Antonio earlier this month.

Edge rusher has become less of a position of need after the return of outside linebacker Jordan Wright for his extra year of eligibility.

Email Jon Hale at jahale@courier-journal.com; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky football recruiting: Alabama transfer Javon Baker commits

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting