Defending our Selections: The Freshmen Receivers plus one TE…

As we discussed when we published our article on the sophomore recovers and the 2021 TE, we were looking for receivers and a TE whom stand out in areas where they could separate themselves from others at the position across Kentucky. Our receivers and the TE we selected run their routes hard, whether they are the target of the play or not. We looked for players whom voraciously participated in the run game by blocking either along the front, at the second level, or even down field well. We wanted players whom run disciplined routes, catching the ball at its high-point, hands extended, away from the body with the DB on his back, attempting (we hope vaingloriously) to knock the ball away from the intended target. We looked for all of those traits in the players we are about to detail. As for our TE, specifically? Well, he should be equally adept at catching the football and being the O-Line’s sixth member. We are proud to present the Sophomore, All-State receivers plus our TE. When we get done telling you about them, the reasons for each of their selections should be abundantly clear…

Vincel Anthony, Senior and Junior

Vinny Anthony, Jr., 5-11, 160 pounds, Louisville Male…

There has never been a more opportune moment to iterate how a freshman ends the year, particularly at a program like Louisville Male, was deemed of critical importance with our selection committee. Frankly, and earnestly, there are programs where a freshman can find the field on Friday nights much quicker than one of Class 6A’s premier football programs, especially in a year in which it would win Kentucky’s largest classification’s State Football Championship. First, we would like to say, as Kentucky’s foremost and preeminent authority on football across the Commonwealth, particularly at this grade level, there is literally no-one who would want to argue whether Vincel Anthony, Jr. either is or isn’t the top receiving prospect in Kentucky’s Class of 2022. He is…simple as that. Anthony played in all but two of Male’s Varsity football games in 2918 but, owing to injury to a senior player slated to start in the slot in the championship game with Scott County, the Bulldogs turned to its young freshman phenom to fill that assignment. Man, did he ever come through for his team at the biggest moment imaginable. How did he respond? Well he had nearly 100 total yards in the game and scored 2 rushing TDs jetting around end to, in our minds, garner legitimate consideration for Male’s offensive player of the game.

There are those who will contend Vincel made this team off the strength of one game which is a curious claim as he played in 13 of the 15 games, but it will be argued nonetheless. Of course, as the freshman who played more on Friday night than any freshman in Male’s Class of 2022, this, simply, isn’t true. However, it wasn’t lost on the selection committee that Male turned to Anthony and his classmates more and more just when the season reached its most pivotal moments, during its playoff run; and, especially, with a Championship on the line. However, for future reference, any freshman who can enter the starting lineup, in Kentucky’s, Class 6A, Football Championship Game, and produce well enough to garner Player of the Game consideration, will almost assuredly be in contention for KPGFootball, Freshman All-State team inclusion. Just wanted that to be crystal clear on that, should it ever come up in subsequent years with subsequent teams. This kid will kill it as a sophomore next year, watch and see.

Lennon Ries, 6-3, 170 pounds, Russellville…

Here’s something you won’t hear said outside of Logan County, Kentucky or even the county seat of Russellville. Doesn’t it make it any less true, however; and that is Lennon Ries may well have been the very best freshman football player in the entire Commonwealth in 2018. Sure, playing at Class 1A Russellville, whom was clearly re-building in 2018 (5-7 on the year), gave him more opportunity than fellow freshman toiling away on fully stocked rosters may have had, but what freshman can honestly say he would have produced at Ries’ level even if he had the opportunity?

Lennon lead the Russellville football team with 32 receptions for 421 receiving yards and 5 receiving TDs. That level of production alone for a freshman who played in all 12 of Russellville’s varsity contests would get you a spot on this, or any, freshman All-State football team at receiver. Ries, playing in the defensive backfield, collected 50 tackles, 3 TFLs, and 4 interceptions, the 4 interceptions being returned for 45 yards. That amount of production would easily net you a roster spot on any freshman, All-State Football team as a defensive back too. So basically, Lennon Ries could have made our team as its only two-way player, something we actually considered.

We know he had opportunity which a lot of freshman don’t get at other programs. That, in and of itself, didn’t negate for the committee that Lennon Ries took his opportunity by the throat and performed, on both sides of the football, at an All-State level. If we awarded a Freshman of the Year, which we don’t but may consider in future years, Lennon Ries would have been hard to beat out for that distinction. He’s one of the best football players in his class and our not listing him among our Top 17 rising freshman back in August of 2018 was obviously a tragic omission. Shame on us! One would really expect more from KPGFootball…

TE-Keygan Pelphrey, 6-0, 180 pounds, Johnson Central…

KPGFootball, would like to note about Keygan Pelfrey that, to look at him, you are ill-prepared for the performance you’re about to witness. I mean the 6-0, 180 pound, Class of 2022 prospect, really doesn’t look substantially different from any other tall, lanky, 9th grade football player, at least not initially. Pelphrey was already squatting northward of 300 pounds, while bench pressing 225, in advance of the Tennessee-Kentucky Future Stars game the summer before his freshman year in high school. At our All-State, Mountain Combine, the 180 pounder bench pressed 5 pounds more than his body weight (185 pounds), the High School rep weight, 8 times. When you apply the old muscleandstrength.com bench press calculator to those figures it relates to an approximate, one-rep, bench press maximum lift of 235 pounds.

We have before described Pelphrey as freakishly strong for his age and anatomical development. When his frame catches up to his freakish strength, there will literally be no limit to how good he both can and will be.  At our combine in the Mountains, we also discovered Pelphrey is freakishly fast. His best timed 40 yard dash at the Mountain All-State Combine was 4.61 seconds but both of his time 40’s were under 5 seconds and both his pro-agility shuttles (5-10-5) were timed at 4.7 seconds. Pelfrey’s fastest L-cone drill was run at 7.5 seconds making him the strongest and one of the most physically gifted, fast, agile, and quick members of the 2022 graduating class. We almost forgot that Keygan’s vertical leap has been before measured at 30 inches.

We predicted about Pelphrey, entering this season, that…Keygan figures to contribute right away at Johnson Central and probably at its TE position, as the offensive front’s 6th lineman, and working the middle zone in the short passing game matched up, one-on-one, with opposing linebackers…This was published in our article naming him our 13th highest regarded, rising freshman. In the same article we related…if Pelphrey isn’t a day one starter for the Eagles, it won’t take him more than a few games to make the starting line-up and he will see the field, and figure prominently in the Johnson Central brain-trusts’ game plans, as early as game one. That seemingly prophetic projection panned out well for KPGFootball as he played in 11 of Johnson Central’s 15 football games. Keygan caught a pair of passes for 58 yards and a TD at TE, in addition to his contributions to one of Kentucky’s top ground games blocking upfront. On defense, Pelphrey contributed 10 tackles, over the course of his 11 games of action, where he was primarily deployed on offense. Who knows how many tackles he could have made for the Eagles had his primary deployment been on defense?

Keygan Pelphrey etched his name on our Freshman All-State Watch-list for inclusion on this team since taking top honors, among our 2022 prospects, at his position at the Mountain All-State Football Combine. This kid is easily the class, of his Class, at the TE position and he was an easy selection to this team at a position we continue to recognize owing to its ever-climbing importance in the offensive scheme of present-day, high school, college, and professional football.

Well, that is the defense of our selections for the freshman receivers plus one TE representing Kentucky’s class of 2022. KPGFootball is quite sure that, while these may not be the very best at their respective positions in the 2022 class; they are, definitely, among them. All of these players have distinguished themselves both on the field of play and in the class room. It will be fun to follow these guys as they continue to develop and play football next Fall. You will continue to hear plenty from these players in 2019 and beyond. 

Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of the ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.

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