Dicky Lyons knows he's not performing the way he hoped so far during spring practice. However, after all he's been through the last two years, he's not about to abandon his belief that he can be a productive receiver for Kentucky.
"I have three years left here, but I would like to step up right now just to get things going," said Lyons. "I don't want to wait too long to be on the field. I want to play now. Last year with the hamstring pull, I missed the first three games and then they asked me to redshirt when I was about ready to come back. That was the hardest decision I've had to make. I wanted to be out there playing, but I redshirted because I thought that would be best for me and the team. But now it is my time to show I can play."
He says he feels 100 percent after getting back in shape following hernia surgery. He dropped 15 pounds from last year. "I lost a lot of fat and gained muscle back," he said.
He's had shoulder surgery as well as hernia surgery since his arrival at Kentucky from Louisiana. He's also rolled both ankles and had muscle strains.
"I was living the college life my first year and not working out as hard as I should have. I was skipping out on workouts," he said. "My freshman year I was playing at 170 pounds. I should have been at least 185. My body was weak. You can be tough, but your bones will still break."
He says he's now UK's strongest wide receiver. He could bench press 315 pounds when he came to Kentucky. He increased that to 375 last summer when he was trying to gain weight and strength. But that slowed him down too much. Now he's back to a bench press of 315 to 330 pounds, but he ways more and has his speed back.
"I tried to gain weight after my freshman year when I was light and got injured, but I gained too much weight. Now I have found a medium that works. I ran a 4.49 in the 40. That's not fast, but it is not slow and when you put a ball in my hands, I can run past anybody. That's just the way I feel."
However, he made mistakes that put him in coach Rich Brooks' doghouse. He was suspended from the team for part of winter workouts. "That was a wakeup call. I realized then no one man is bigger than the team. That's the way I was acting. That was my fault. It was a reality check after coach Brooks suspended me. You don't realize how much you have until you lose it like I did.
"I wasn't doing terrible things. I was just enjoying college life too much and not taking care of things that I should have been."
He's had that same sort of problem this spring. With UK's receiving corps depleted by injury and graduation, he had a chance to make a move into the playing rotation. However, he's missed routes, dropped passes and made the coaches wonder what has happened to the potential they felt he had.
"I want to be a go-to guy. That's the kind of player I came here to be," Lyons said. "I have the opportunity to earn a playing spot. But I know I have to do better. Maybe I'm trying too hard. Maybe that has messed up my concentration. But whatever it is, I have to step up before the spring ends and show what I can do."