With Kentucky running the ball nearly every play in the last eight games of their 2019 season, Wildcat tight ends and fullbacks mostly stuck to blocking and creating holes.

Combined, the group accounted for just one touchdown reception and 19 catches, but in 2020 with a more balanced offensive attack planned will look to get far more involved in the passing offense.

Here is a closer look at all four Wildcat tight ends and their two fullbacks on the 2020 roster.

Justin Rigg celebrates with Ahmad Wagner. Photo by Brandon Turner.

TE, Justin Rigg #83

Class: Redshirt Senior

Height/Weight: 6-6, 266 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Springboro, Ohio., Springboro

247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 67 Tight End in 2016

Justin Rigg enters his redshirt senior season with the Wildcats and is expected to be the UK starter for a second straight season.

In his first season as Kentucky’s primary tight end in 2019, Rigg made 11 catches for 128 yards, including a five-catch, 50-yard game against Florida and scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone in the Wildcats season opener.

While his catch and receiving yard numbers were fairly low, much of that was due to Kentucky’s commitment to the run with injuries at quarterback. Thus, expect far more production from Rigg in the passing game in 2020.

Keaton Upshaw (#88) signals touchdown. Photo by Brandon Turner.

TE, Keaton Upshaw #88

Class: Redshirt Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6-6, 244 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Lima, Ohio., Lima Senior

247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 34 Tight End in 2018

Keaton Upshaw enters his redshirt sophomore season, looking to build off a 2019 campaign. The Ohio native missed his entire true freshman season due to injury, but as a redshirt freshman was able to stay on the field for all 13 games and make two starts.

On the year, Upshaw totaled seven catches for 78 yards, including a touchdown grab against Florida that gave Kentucky an 11-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

With the passing game expected to pick up, Upshaw will look for more targets and continue his stellar run blocking as a redshirt sophomore.

Brenden Bates. Photo via UK Athletics.

TE, Brenden Bates #80

Class: Redshirt Sophomore

Height/Weight: 6-4, 247 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Cincinnati, Ohio., Archbishop Moeller

247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 25 Tight End in 2018

Brenden Bates enters his redshirt sophomore season, looking for an increased role in Kentucky’s offense. The former highly ranked recruit has yet to make a reception in his college career.

In 2018 he played in just two games to preserve a redshirt season but in 2019 played in all 13 games nearly exclusively on special teams.

Bates will look to challenge Rigg and Upshaw for playing time at tight end and set himself up to earn a potential starting gig in 2021 with Rigg set to depart after the 2020 season.

Nik Ognenovic. Photo via UK Athletics.

TE, Nik Ogennovic #87

Class: Redshirt Freshman

Height/Weight: 6-5, 249 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Cardinal Gibbons

247 Recruit Rankings: 3-star, No. 35 Tight End in 2019

Nik Ogennovic enters his redshirt freshman season, looking for increased playing time. As a true freshman in 2019, he appeared in two games and made his first career reception with an eight-yard grab against U-T Martin.

With the redshirt ripped off, Ogennovic will play an increased special team role and battle for playing time in Kentucky’s offense.

Dillon Wheatley. Photo Dillon Wheatley on Twitter.

FB, Dillon Wheatley #39

Class: Junior

Height/Weight: 6-1, 205 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Richmond Ky., Lexington Christian

247 Recruit Rankings: Unranked

Dillon Wheatley enters his second season with Kentucky after playing his first college season at Pikeville College. At Pikeville, Wheatley ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman.

He did not appear in any games with the Wildcats last season, but with Drew Schlegel in the transfer portal, he may challenge for the starting role at fullback.

Jack Varga head shot. Photo via UK Athletics.

FB, Jack Varga #48

Class: Sophomore

Height/Weight: 5-11, 250 lbs.

Hometown/High School: Louisville, Ky., St. Xavier 

247 Recruit Rankings: Unranked

Kentucky native Jack Varga enters his second season with the Wildcats. He practiced with the team last season and earned Dean’s List honors in the fall.

With Schlegel in the transfer portal, he will look to challenge Wheatley for the starting fullback job.

Facebook Comments