Cole Hikutini is the second leading receiver for No. 5 UofL. The California native had 27 catches in the Cards first seven games for 393 yards and four touchdowns. He had six catches for a career-high 118 yards and a score in UofL’s 54-13 win over NC State on October 22.
What did you know about Louisville before you arrived?
Not much really, other than the basketball team and Coach Petrino being here. I didn’t really know much about Kentucky, didn’t really know where it was, but I’m happy that I’m here.
What do you miss about California?
I’d say the weather – it being about 72 degrees every day – but this is my new home.
What was going through your mind when you tried to hurdle an NC State defender?
I really couldn’t tell you what I was thinking, but I was running. Usually people go low, try to hit me low, and I thought he was going to do that and he thought differently. So we both jumped up and he hit me in my legs, or my groin actually. I probably should have run around him, tried to juke him or run through him. I guess I got a cool picture so.
Have your teammates brought that up once or twice?
I don’t think I’m going to live it down for the rest of the season. The training staff too brings it up. It is what it is. It’s a good laugh.
Is the production that you’re having this year about what you expected last season before all the nagging injuries?
Yes, I just want to win, do whatever I can to help the team, but yeah, this is the season I expected. I can always do better, blocking, running after the catch, better decision-making, maybe not jump over someone standing up.
Is there a tight end in particular that had success in this offense and drew you to this offense?
I knew about Gary Barnidge definitely but I just knew how Coach Petrino used tight ends, and that was a focal point on recruiting me. He likes to use tight ends in pass game, run game, basically just NFL-style tight ends. That really attracted my eye. I mean, I want to go to the NFL eventually. I have to do certain things to get there, and I felt that he was going to be in the best situation to do so.
Was there a moment when you realized that Coach Petrino sees everything on the field?
Coach P. said to me, I don’t know verbatim what he said, but he said something like, eight years ago, go look at a game when he was at Arkansas. He said go look at D.J. Williams, third quarter against Auburn, how he ran this route. I think he said the play and everything word for word what it was, and sure enough, I did look it up, just to see if he really knew what he was talking about. And it was exactly where he said it was. He remembers everything.
Coach Petrino has said that he can recall a specific throw from Lamar Jackson early in practice last season as the moment he realized Lamar was special. Is there a moment that stands out for you?
I don’t think there’s just one moment. He does that all the time. It’s kind of crazy watching, going back and watching film of practice. They don’t tackle him, but he’s still juking people five yards away from him and then the throws he makes are just on the helmet almost every time.
How much pride does the rest of the team take in the fact that he’s the Heisman Trophy front runner?
Oh yeah, we’re all behind him, support him, want him to win. It looks good on us too. More attention to us, more praise for us, but he’s a phenomenal athlete and his play speaks for itself.
You are involved with a lot off the field, community events. What do you get out of those?
It’s definitely humbling. I just want to give back. We have a camp for kids with cancer, and those kids, in their situations, the easiest thing we can do is say hi and go hang out for an hour or two and it makes their day. So anything that puts a smile on their face and they’re all fans, they all support us, so giving back to them can make a huge difference to them. VT