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Sweat learning on the job, making plays in the process

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Freshman wide receiver DeMarcus Sweat has scored a touchdown in each of UK's last two games. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics) Freshman wide receiver DeMarcus Sweat has scored a touchdown in each of UK's last two games. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
DeMarcus Sweat is the most dangerous player on Kentucky's roster. The freshman wide receiver, just three games into his college career, already has a well-earned big-play reputation.

In limited duty as a receiver and kick returner, he has only nine touches. He has caught the ball three times, but scored two touchdowns on his few receptions, including the game-tying score with 22 seconds left in regulation against Western Kentucky. Adding his 172 kick-return yards, Sweat leads all Wildcats with 252 all-purpose yards.

So, why is a player averaging 28 yards every time he gets his hands on the ball getting just three touches a game?

"Right now when he's on the field, there's a good chance somebody's band's going to play," offensive coordinator Randy Sanders said.

Calling Sweat's number - at this early point in his career - is a little bit of a game of trick or treat. Sometimes you are rewarded with a king size candy bar, others you are left wishing you hadn't knocked on the door in the first place. As UK prepares to travel to No. 14 Florida, Sanders is going about the business of making Sweat's highlight-reel plays the kind that are fun to watch in the film room on Saturday.

"We're working hard with DeMarcus and we're pushing him, trying to get him to learn what to do and how to do," Sanders said. "DeMarcus has to do his part. I think some days he's much better at it than others. We need to see consistency out of him because there's no question he can make plays."

It's that ability that is making it impossible for the coaches to keep Sweat off the field. He's at a position with plenty of experience, as four seniors are on the depth chart. Even so, Sweat was listed as a starter for the first time this week alongside Aaron Boyd at one receiver spot.

"Older is nice, but talented is better," Sanders said.

Sweat will see the field no matter what in Gainesville, Fla., on Saturday, but he and Boyd have competed this week to determine who will get the start. The young freshman knows what it's going to take.

"I'd probably say getting in that playbook and staying consistent," Sweat said. "That's really it: staying consistent and staying on top of your stuff."

From the moment Sweat arrived on campus, Maxwell Smith has taken the receiver under his wing. During fall camp, the sophomore quarterback famously requested Sweat as his roommate.

"He's doing well," Smith said. "He obviously has a long way to go. There's a lot for him to learn as a young receiver, but he's doing a really good job. I'm helping him as much as I can."

That doesn't mean Smith refers to him by his birth name. Sweat shares his surname with a certain R&B artist most popular in the 1990s.

"They call me Keith around the team so some of them probably don't even know my first name," Sweat said. "They think my name's Keith Sweat."

Even though Sweat - who has not yet turned 18 - was one-year old when the man he shares his name with last had a song on the Billboard Hot 100, the receiver understands the reference. If he keeps making plays at his current rate, it might not be long before the football player is more famous than the recording artist.

"We only had, before the year started, I think in the summertime a week together or two weeks because he came in a little bit late," Smith said. "To think what I could do with all the work in the winter and the summer and the spring with him, it could be something to see I hope."

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