Jabari Greenwood ready to quit watching, start making plays for Cats

 By LARRY VAUGHT

When Jabari Greenwood signed with Kentucky, many thought the 6-3, 200-pound receiver might play as a freshman. Instead, he redshirted — and is now glad that he did.

“That redshirt year definitely paid off for me as far as just learning more, watching everybody and getting in the weight room,” said Greenwood. “It was  hard just watching last year, but it paid off for me to have that year to get myself together physically and mentally. Still, it was hard watching. I was not used to that.”

Chances are he won’t have to watch from the sidelines this year as he figures to work his way into the playing rotation for new offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and receivers coach Lamar Thomas.

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Jabari Greenwood (8) plans to be a physical blocker and receiver for UK. (Vicky Graff Photo)

 

Greenwood had scholarship offers from Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan State and many others when he picked UK coming out of Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C. He was a three-star recruit loaded with potential.

He said he used his redshirt year to “get used to my body and get my body under control.” He worked on footwork, route definition.

“I am a big receiver, so the coaches wanted me to keep my shoulders down and I had to adjust to that,” Greenwood said. “Now I feel a lot better than I did last year. I have worked so hard to be able to compete for a spot on the field finally.”

He’ll go into preseason practice as an outside receiver but knows Gran and Thomas often move personnel around to get the best players on the field. That suits him.

“I like coach Thomas’ coaching style. Honestly, that is kind of what I come from and am used to. He is a more hands on coach that will get on you and everything but also a good relationship with you. I like his style. He pushes us,” Greenwood said. “I definitely like the swagger part. That is what wide receiver is all about. It’s the position that has the most swag, the most juice. I definitely like that side of him.

“It definitely means a lot to us that he played at the highest level in college and competed for national championships and then played in the NFL. He tells us he knows what we are going through and the process because he has been through it and did it all. He is really just trying to help us out and get us to the next step, which I appreciate.”

Greenwood didn’t start his football career as a receiver. Instead, he played on the offensive line in youth football and “grew up” blocking, not catching passes.

“I was tall, so the tallest people just automatically were offense linemen and smaller, shorter, faster guys were skilled position players. I did not end up playing wide receiver until about seventh or eighth grade,” Greenwood laughed and said. “Even in high school I did a lot of blocking and I am going to try and do that here in college. I am a physical wideout. I am a little on the skinny side, but I am still physical when it comes to blocking. I definitely put my nose down and block. That is no problem.”

He likes competing against Kentucky’s bigger defensive backs, which could be a team strength for the Wildcats this season.

“Their size is good for us to go up against. Our defensive backs are getting better, too, I think from the competition with us,” Greenwood said.

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