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University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.


Football Season Coverage

The Depth Chart Podcast’s NSD Recap


KSR put the finishing touches on National Signing Day with a LIVE podcast at Jack Kain Ford.  There were exponentially fewer technically difficulties than the first remote (but Jack Pilgrim still managed to screw it up once or twice), making this an enjoyable experience for all.  We discussed Kentucky’s next class, what happened on NSD, and…

—  Sleepers and studs.

—  We are shocked and amazed to see a car exit the showroom.

—  A story from Lynn Bowden’s recruitment.

—  The first Super Bowls we remember and why Jack and Andrew’s Pats will lose.

—  Christi Thomas joins to provide her views from NSD and what’s up with the women’s basketball team.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, streaming on Podbayor via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

Vince Marrow: “When we first got here, we were selling a dream.”

Vince Marrow: “When we first got here, we were selling a dream.”

Photo: John Clay

Photo: John Clay

In Joker Phillips’ last year at Kentucky, it was reported just over 4,000 fans “filled” the stands for the annual UK Football Spring Game. As you can see in the photo above, even that number was a stretch.

During the Missouri game that season, I was approached at a Buffalo Wild Wings by a bystander questioning my team of choice. “It’s Kentucky football…,” he said. “Why are you watching that garbage? Do you just enjoy suffering?”

It wasn’t to poke fun or spark a heated debate. It was out of pity.

At the time, I laughed it off, but they were absolutely right. Kentucky lost that game 33-10, just one of the team’s ten losses on the year. Fan support was at an all-time low, the football facilities were among the worst in the nation, and top recruits wanted nothing to do with the Wildcats. The entire football program was in shambles.

No offense to Joker Phillips, he’s a great guy and really worked hard, but the roster he put out on the field in 2012 was on par with most FCS programs. In fact, even Western Kentucky players thought the team was an embarrassment.

(If that video doesn’t make you cringe, I don’t know what will.)

When Mark Stoops took over the following year, over 50,000 fans packed Commonwealth Stadium for the Spring Game.

For what reason? Why would 50,000 fans fill a stadium for a team they knew darn well was not competing for anything but an SEC East participation trophy that season?

There was hope.

On National Signing Day, Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow, and Eddie Gran joined Matt on KSR to discuss the day’s events and the optimism surrounding the program. Matt asked Marrow the difference between Wednesday’s National Signing Day and the one back in 2013.

His response: “When we first got here, we sold a dream.”

If you think back to Stoops’ first recruiting class, Za’Darius Smith signed with Kentucky over schools like Texas A&M, Texas, Florida State, and Auburn without even visiting campus. It came as a shock to Kentucky fans, as no one expected Mark Stoops’ first football commitment at UK to come from a four-star freak of nature defensive end standing 6’7, 250 lbs. It turned heads nationally.

That class followed up with guys like Jojo Kemp, Jeff Badet, Jason Hatcher, Marcus McWilson, and Ryan Timmons signing with UK, moving the Wildcats into the top 30 of the final recruiting rankings in 2013.

Stoops’ first team at UK went 2-10, yet the coaching staff somehow managed to sign an absolutely ridiculous class in 2014. At one point in time, they were considered the best class in the entire nation.


The class finished with 28 signees, 15 of which rated as four-stars by at least one recruiting service.

At the time, I had fans tell me “Stoops has to be paying these guys. There’s no way he can get four-stars to Kentucky like this.”

But they didn’t. They didn’t need to.

These recruits were told not to pay attention to the win/loss column in the first year, rather focus on the physical progress of the team and the momentum surrounding the program.

UK safety Mike Edwards told KSR, “When they were recruiting me, they said the team was going to struggle that first year. They understood the challenges from the start. But they said from there, progress will be made every year and we’d become competitors in the SEC. Our entire recruiting class had so much faith in the coaching staff, and they’ve followed through on their promises. We’re starting to see those rewards.”

A $126-million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium was well underway, and construction of a $45-million state-of-the-art practice facility began soon thereafter. When both projects were completed, Kentucky’s football facilities were among the best in the entire nation.

Progress didn’t stop at just eye-candy and materialistic flair. It translated onto the football field.

Stoops led Kentucky to their first seven-win season since 2009, and four SEC wins for the first time since 2006. A win over No. 9 Louisville featuring the Heisman winner at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium punched a ticket to the TaxSlayer Bowl (formerly known as the Gator Bowl) in Jacksonville, FL.

Again, the progress didn’t stop there.

On Wednesday, Mark Stoops and his staff signed the greatest recruiting class in UK football history, even better than the jaw-dropping 2014 class in the eyes of both Stoops and Marrow.

In his post-NSD presser, Stoops said, “It’s our best class. Period.”

Lynn Bowden politely declined an offer from Ohio State leading up to Signing Day. Josh Paschal had to tell Alabama, Clemson, and Penn State he wasn’t interested. JaVonte Richardson turned down schools like Michigan and Michigan State.

Some of these guys had ridiculous offer sheets, but Kentucky never flinched. It may be a “dirty business” according to Stoops, but he put up a fight against the baddest dudes in college football. In most of those fights, he won.

We can even go to the bottom of the list where you’ll find Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald. This kid was considered by many to be a “reach” and a “project” in this recruiting class for Kentucky, yet he had an offer from Florida and had schools like Florida State and Penn State sniffing around late last week.

Back in the Joker Phillips era at UK, Abadi-Fitzgerald would have been considered the gem of any recruiting class. The term “diamond in the rough” would have been thrown around, and fans would be enamored by a 6’7, 250 lbs. monster. Back then, UK’s “diamonds in the rough” had offers from schools like Toledo, Kent State, and Miami (OH). Today, Kentucky casually “takes” a guy with interest from the nation’s best.

Kentucky is in position to take on “projects” because the team is absolutely stacked with talent top to bottom. They are in position to take risks because they have dotted their I’s and crossed their T’s elsewhere at positions of need.

That’s the difference between the new era of Kentucky football and the old.

Ask Josh Paschal and his father about the difference between the old and new era of UK Football. Before, Paschal didn’t even have Kentucky listed in his final ten schools, and his father originally scoffed at the idea of his son playing at UK. After Marrow got Paschal to visit against Georgia, he called his father and said, “Dad, it’s not what you think down here. It’s not what it used to be.” That visit alone sold him.

The hump that seemed so impossible to get over at times has finally been conquered. After coming in with a bottomless pit of adversities, the UK staff has the puzzle pieces firmly in place for the program to take the next major step up.

Next season, nearly all of Kentucky’s starters are back and depth is at an all-time high. Redshirts are ready to come in the rotation and make an impact.

Eddie Gran has the offense moving the best it has in years. There will be an impressive quarterback battle this spring between Drew Barker, Stephen Johnson, and Gunnar Hoak. Benny Snell and A.J. Rose will be a dynamic duo in the backfield.

The defense showed a massive turnaround after Mark Stoops took over, and Matt House will be able to come in and continue to run the same schemes.

Etc. Etc. Etc.

For a program many thought could never reach new heights and would always take the backseat to Kentucky basketball, we’re seeing those barriers crumble down right in front of us.

Mark Stoops built this program on dreams and promises of change. In four years, he has turned those dreams and promises into reality.

“We’re just getting started, bro.”

SDS: Biggest Risers and Fallers in SEC Recruiting over last years



Saturday Down South has  analyzed the greatest change in recruiting class rankings from year-to-year over the past 15 years. The Cats showed up twice on the rankings. The first is a 38 place rise that occurred in Mark Stoops’ first year for the Class of 2013. That ranks 5th in the SEC for largest rise.

Kentucky also falls on the largest fallers list after dropping 35 spots during the class of 2005. The Class of 2005 followed Rich Brooks second season at Kentucky after the Cats went 2-9. Some key members of the Class of 2005 include Tim Masthay, Jeremy Jarmon and Alfonso Smith.

You can check out where Kentucky ranks against the rest of the SEC in the greatest rise and falls over the last 15 years at the link below:

Biggest Risers and Fallers in SEC Recruiting over last years

John Kuntz Northeast Ohio Media Group

Cats Illustrated: Javonte Richardson

John Kuntz Northeast Ohio Media Group

John Kuntz Northeast Ohio Media Group

Justin Rowland from Cats Illustrated has written a fantastic profile on UK Football Signee JaVonte Richardson. Richardson is a 4-Star Wide Receiver out of Maple Heights, Ohio. KSR Football Writer Freddie Maggard analysis of Richardson says, “Competes on every snap; actively engaged as ball carrier, pass catcher, and blocker. Appears that all are equally important. Explosion play capability. Wins 50/50 situations.”

Richardson’s size and athleticism are one of the main reasons for his success.

“Now he’s 230 pounds and he’s like a man-child out there on the field. The competition has just been minimal for him,” Smith said. “Matchup wise, there’s really been no competition. A lot of the teams we played double-teamed him, triple-teamed him. But he’s physical. He’s not like the typical receiver. He blocks. He hits. He makes tackles. He tries to complete the play. If he catches a 10-yard pass he’s like, ‘I need to make this a 20-yard reception.'”

Rowland goes into what makes Richardson successful as a player and into the impact that Kentucky had on him, which was a primary reason behind his early commitment. Check out the article in its’ entirety at the link below:

ALL ABOUT ACTION: Talk is cheap for JaVonte Richardson

Watching UK Football players watch the UK Football Super Bowl ad will make you excited for the UK Football Super Bowl ad

Watching UK Football players watch the UK Football Super Bowl ad will make you excited for the UK Football Super Bowl ad

Screen Shot 2017-02-03 at 11.14.56 AM

Since Mark Stoops took over at UK, it’s become tradition for the program to put out a Super Bowl ad in local markets. This year is no exception. While you’ll have to wait until Sunday to see the ad for yourself, the players got a sneak peek of it this week, and their reactions suggest it will be awesome:

Benny certainly seems to love it.

Friday’s Top 10: Who’s healthy enough to go to Florida?

Friday’s Top 10: Who’s healthy enough to go to Florida?


Good morning, friends. Hopefully the guy you see pictured above isn’t the only Kentucky fan in Gainesville this weekend. With several uncertainties heading into tomorrow’s matchup with the Gators, let’s roll through today’s agenda, starting with the question everyone’s asking…

1. What’s the latest on Fox, Mulder, and SKJ?

De’Aaron Fox and Sacha Killeya-Jones missed Tuesday’s game due to the flu, while Mychal Mulder remained out with an undisclosed illness (and is IS an illness, despite speculation). After the Georgia game, John Calipari was skeptical the three would be available for this weekend’s trip to Gainesville, but yesterday, sources told KSR that Fox and Mulder were moving towards being able to play. The staff is cautiously optimistic the two will be able to suit up vs. the Gators, but the deciding factor would be whether or not they practiced yesterday. Still no word on that, but we’ll get an update this afternoon when…

2. John Calipari previews Florida

Cal is scheduled to speak to the media before the team leaves for Gainesville, so check the site mid-afternoon for a live stream and shortly after, a full recap.

3. Calipari and Kenny Payne are going to see Kevin Knox

While the team heads to Gainesville, Cal and KP are going to Tampa to watch five-star small forward Kevin Knox. Knox visited UK this past weekend for the Kansas game and although he won’t announce until March, Calipari’s hoping to capitalize on momentum from that visit.

4. Maybe he’ll show him the “30 for 30” preview that came out last night?

Last night, we got a minute-long sneak peek at the documentary, which will debut Thursday, April 13. Let’s hope that final line — “You’re gonna hate me, ’cause I come to your town and we beat your team” — is a good omen for tomorrow night.

One last Calipari note, swear.

5. ICYMI, Calipari released his podcast with Ben Roethlisberger

I’m not a fan of Big Ben, but I did enjoy his appearance on Calipari’s podcast, which came out yesterday. Roethlisberger and Cal bonded over how Ben played point guard in high school, went to a football camp at UK as a junior, and how he infuses his teammates with his refuse to lose attitude. Roethlisberger even shared his Super Bowl pick (35-20 Patriots).

6. What the heck is going on at Kansas

I realize the Jayhawks just beat us in Rupp Arena, but shady stuff continues to come out of Lawrence, the most recent being news that Lagerald Vick and Josh Jackson are persons of interest in a vandalism case. Between this, the alleged rape at the KU basketball dorm and Carlton Bragg’s suspension for possession of drug paraphernalia, you would think the Jayhawks would crumble under distraction, but somehow, they keep winning.

7. UK Hoops lost a tough one to South Carolina

It’s been a rough week for Matthew Mitchell’s crew, who lost at Missouri on Monday and again last night at home to #4 South Carolina. Upsetting the Gamecocks would have been huge, but the ladies just couldn’t find their shot, going 34% from the field. Hopefully they can bounce back Tuesday vs. Vanderbilt.

8. This graphic sums up the BBNBA right now

Last night, it was announced that four Cats will participate in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge during NBA All-Star Weekend (February 17-19). Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will compete against two other posts, Kristaps Porzingis and Joel Embiid, while John Wall and Devin Booker duel with Gordon Hayward and Isaiah Thomas. Last year, Karl Towns won the Skills Challenge, but declined an invitation to defend his crown. Instead, he’ll participate in the Rising Stars Challenge that Friday night.

9. Come see Freddie and the Depth Chart podcast crew at Jack Kain Ford

IMG_40461 copy

Got plans for lunch? Head on over to Jack Kain Ford in Versailles to see Freddie, Nick Roush, Jack Pilgrim, and Andrew Eaton talk all things National Signing Day on the Depth Chart Podcast. Need more incentive? There’s free pizza and a drawing for a 65″ TV. The crew will be there starting at 11:30 a.m., but they won’t start taping the podcast until noon, you don’t worry, you won’t miss a second of KSR. Speaking of…

10. KSR is live from Lancaster this morning

If you’re in Garrard County, come on out to the First Southern National Bank to hear the show. Sounds like a perfect excuse to start the weekend early if you ask me.

Join the Depth Chart Podcast Tomorrow at Jack Kain Ford

IMG_40461 copy

After Kentucky Sports Radio wraps up their show in Lancaster, the Depth Chart Podcast will be LIVE at Jack Kain Ford.  Freddie and the crew will discuss National Signing Day, the upcoming Super Bowl and much, much more.

Even if you don’t want to hang out with us, the lunch is on Jack Kain, starting around 11:30.  While you’re there, you can shop their excellent selection of automobiles or heckle us for not knowing what we’re talking about.

Tomorrow’s podcast will be a fun way to end the National Signing Day hysteria.  We hope to see you there!

Kentucky got A WHOLE LOTTA MONEY from the SEC this year

Kentucky got A WHOLE LOTTA MONEY from the SEC this year


A lot of fans often ask why Kentucky stays in the SEC. Today, they have 40.4 million reasons why. This afternoon, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced the league divvied up $584.2 million of revenue to its 14 institutions, an average of slightly over $40.4 million per school. That’s an insane amount of money, and doesn’t even include bowl revenue.

The $584.2 million of revenue distributed is for the 2015-16 fiscal year and is the highest in SEC history. Last year, the league distributed $475.8 million for the 2014-15 fiscal year, an average of $32.7 million per school. The total distribution amount is comprised of revenue generated from television agreements, post-season bowl games, the College Football Playoff, the SEC Football Championship, the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament, NCAA Championships and a supplemental surplus distribution. For comparison’s sake, the Big 10 distributes around $32.4 million to its members, while ACC schools annually receive anywhere from $24 million to $27.6 million.

Overall, the SEC made a record $639 million in 2016, which you know means Commissioner Sankey is strutting around his office like…


Lamar Jackson wins Herald-Leader Kentucky Sports Figure of the Year

Lamar Jackson wins Herald-Leader Kentucky Sports Figure of the Year


This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Lamar Jackson was voted the Herald-Leader’s 2016 Kentucky Sports Figure of the Year. Jackson was by far the most popular #1 pick, accounting for 114 of the 157 first-place votes, including all of the KSR crew’s, I believe. It’s not every year a Louisville player both wins the Heisman and gives Kentucky fans a win for the ages, right? Tyler Ulis came in at number two, Karl Towns number four, Kendra Harrison number five, and Mark Stoops number seven.

Here’s the top ten, with first-place votes in parentheses and total points:

1. Lamar Jackson, football (114): 1,680
2. Tyler Ulis, basketball (3): 639
3. Whitney Creech, basketball (14): 601
4. Karl-Anthony Towns, basketball (2): 435
5. Kendra Harrison, track & field (3): 423
6. Kelsi Worrell, swimming (1): 420
7. Mark Stoops, football (4): 402
8. Jeff Brohm, football: 348
9. Erin Boley, basketball (1): 223
10. Adam Duvall, baseball (1): 214

Check out the complete voting results over at the Herald-Leader, along with various quotes from the media on their selections, including one from yours truly about Tyler Ulis.


Calipari tries to recruit Ben Roethlisberger on his latest podcast

Just because Kentucky lost two of its last three games doesn’t mean John Calipari’s taking a week off his podcast! This week, Cal interviews Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and the podcast is now available for your listening pleasure. The two covered all the expected topics, like Ben’s career, the Steelers, and Sunday’s Super Bowl, but did you know Roethlisberger was a point guard in high school? Big Ben averaged 26.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, but had to give up his hoop dreams to focus on football; that didn’t stop Calipari from trying to retroactively recruit him, of course.

“Let me ask you this, what if I were at Kentucky, and I said, ‘I’ve gotta have this guy,'” Calipari said. “And I’d sit you down, and tell your family, ‘Look, your kid is special. He’s a big guard, and I love big guards, you know.’ What would you have done? Would you have dropped the football and come to Kentucky?”

“It would have been a tough one for me,” Roethlisberger said. “I went to Kentucky football camp back in the day when I was a junior. Went there and was a part of that. But, you know Coach, I’ve got a lot of love and respect for you, so I probably would have went. I would have stayed longer than a year too. I would have given you my best and I promise you, I would have passed the ball a lot.”

So Big Ben was at UK Football camp in the late ’90s, which is when Hal Mumme was coach. We had some pretty amazing quarterbacks back then, but can you imagine if he had come to Kentucky?

To listen, subscribe to the Cal Cast on iTunes, Podbay, Stitcher, or Soundcloud.

Thursday’s Top 10: Groundhog Day, Signing Day wrap-up, ServPro at the Lodge

Thursday’s Top 10: Groundhog Day, Signing Day wrap-up, ServPro at the Lodge


Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don’t forget your booties ’cause it’s coooold out there today! Actually, it could be colder for the second day in February, but because it’s Groundhog Day, I had to steal a line from Bill Murray’s 1993 classic. If you believe in the bizarre tradition, don’t put away your flannel and sweaters just yet; this morning, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, meaning we’ve got six weeks of winter left. Considering it was 65 degrees here in Nashville Tuesday, I’m skeptical, but hey, who am I to argue with a groundhog?

Let’s go over today’s agenda…

1. Stoops signed his best class yet yesterday

Yesterday was quite the day for the UK Football program, which pulled in what Mark Stoops called his best class ever. Although the class may not rank as high as Stoops’ 2014 group, he raved about the character and leadership of his 24 new players.

“I’d say it’s by far best class, period, but by athletes as well. I just feel so good about this class top to bottom. The biggest thing, and I may be a bit redundant when I talk about this, but it is about their character, about their leadership. You look at these guys and a bunch of these guys are captains on their football team, they’re very, very good students. They’re competitors, they’re winners. You just look at the two quarterbacks that we have in this class, and if I’m talking about one, I’m talking about both of them. They are unbelievable leaders. They’re winners, they’re competitors and you could say that about the whole group.”

2. Jedrick Wills and Danny Davis went elsewhere

There was hope Kentucky would be able to flip five-star Lafayette lineman Jedrick Wills, but Wills decided to stay with Alabama. He called Stoops late Tuesday night to inform him of his decision, which he admitted was very difficult.

“It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but it’s something you have to do because I have respect for him,” Wills told SEC Country’s Joe Mussatto. “UK’s been on me since about 8th grade so I respect them a lot and I thank them for what they’ve done for me.”

Best of luck to Wills and Danny Davis, a four-star receiver who opted for Wisconsin instead of Kentucky Wednesday afternoon.

3. Lamar Thomas continues to enjoy the win over Louisville

We all loved Kentucky’s upset over Louisville, but I’d argue few people have enjoyed it as much as Lamar Thomas, who wore a “Mr. 41-28” nametag around the football facility yesterday:

During his press conference yesterday, Vince Marrow said the win over Louisville gave the program huge momentum with the 2017 class:

“When we first got here we were selling the dream and what it was going to become with the facilities and all that. We still were able to sell the SEC but eventually we had to win that signature game to make them say ‘whoa, everything they are selling is coming true.’ I know when our coaches went out in December I had a lot of people telling me our coaches were walking in those schools with a swag. Everyone was talking about the Louisville game. To me that win was huge for us.”

4. The entire roster of 2017 signees

Before we close the book on Signing Day and shift back to basketball, here’s one last look at the 24 newest Kentucky Wildcats:

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5. What’s the latest on Fox, Mulder, and Killeya-Jones?

De’Aaron Fox and Sacha Killeya-Jones missed Tuesday night’s game vs. Georgia due to the flu, along with Mychal Mulder, who sat out his fourth game due to an undisclosed illness. Will they be back in time for Saturday’s game at Florida? On Tuesday, Calipari said Fox and SKJ will probably be game-time decisions, while Mulder would be out another week to ten days. I doubt we’ll get an official update before Calipari’s presser on Friday, but we have our ear to the ground and will bring you any news that comes along. In the meantime, send healing vibes to the Wildcat Coal Lodge, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40526.

6. A ServPro truck was spotted at the Lodge yesterday



If you listen to KSR, you know ServPro can handle any disaster, small or large, and one of their trucks was spotted outside the Lodge yesterday. Coincidence or did Calipari call in the pros to help sanitize the place? His tweet last night suggests the latter:

7. Zion Williamson met with Calipari last night

Fresh off his “indescribable” and “ridiculous” visit for the Kansas game, the second best player in the junior class hosted John Calipari in his home in South Carolina yesterday. Williamson, a 6’7″ five-star power forward, didn’t have an offer from Kentucky before yesterday; did something change on that visit? You’ll hope so after watching Williamson dunk so hard the scoreboard just gave up Tuesday night:

@zionlw10 Simply amazing.

A video posted by JBGolf (@jbgolf18) on

Phew. Give that kid an offer, Cal. Speaking of recruiting…

8. Kentucky’s trending up for Mohamed Bamba

Two more picks went in Kentucky’s direction this week from Duke writers, furthering the buzz that the 7-footer will end up in Lexington:

9. Calipari’s podcast with Ben Roethlisberger is scheduled to drop today

This week’s Cal Cast guest is Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and even though Calipari avoided his first three-game losing streak at Kentucky with Tuesday’s overtime win, I bet some people will still grumble about how he NEEDS TO STOP DOING THAT PODCAST AND START COACHING MORE ZONE. Regardless, I’ll bring you the highlights whenever it comes out (even though I really, really don’t like Big Ben).

10. College basketball on TV tonight

  • 7:00 PM: Missouri at #24 Florida, ESPN2
  • 9:00 PM: #5 Arizona at Oregon State, ESPN2
  • 11:00 PM: Arizona State at #13 Oregon, FS1
  • 11:00 PM: #1 Gonzaga at BYU, ESPN2
  • 11:00 PM: #18 Saint Mary’s at Pacific, ESPNU

Radio in an hour…

Complete list of Kentucky’s new class of Wildcats

Complete list of Kentucky’s new class of Wildcats

UK Football

Big Blue Nation, meet your Class of 2017…



Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald
Defensive End| 6-7 | 245 lbs.
Maple Heights, FL | Maple Heights HS
ESPN  — | — Top247  — | —
Rivals  — | — Scout  — | —

Bio: Abade-Fitzgerald has been a quiet secret for UK for several weeks now, hoping no one else would find out about this kid. Florida State, Florida, Penn State, and several others sniffed around late, but UK swayed his decision on official visit. Extremely raw prospect, will need time to develop. Staff is in love with his size, could develop into monster in a few years.

Signed with Kentucky over Florida.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: 6’6 260-pound defensive end has an unlimited ceiling. Extremely raw, played only one year of football. Trend continues of strong late commits-signings for Stoops.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 2.13.37 PM Tyrell Ajian
Safety| 6-0 | 190 lbs.
Mansfield, OH | Madison Comprehensive HS
ESPN  No. 244 | 17 S Top247 No. 168 | 5 ATH
Rivals  — | 26 S Scout  — | 57 S

Bio: Ajian is an extremely versatile prospect, played QB, RB, WR, DB, and returned kicks in high school. Impressive size, speed, and instincts. Will play safety at Kentucky. Nominated for 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Chose Kentucky over offers from Michigan State, Tennessee, and Notre Dame.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Top 2 athlete in this class. High level speed and affinity for contact which project at safety.


Joshua Ali
Wide Receiver | 6-0 | 180 lbs.
Hollywood, FL | Chaminade-Madonna
ESPN  — | 89 WR Top247  No. 999 | 71 ATH
Rivals  — | 92 WR Scout  — | 205 WR

Bio: Ali committed to Kentucky last summer out of the talent-rich South Florida area. ESPN Recruiting calls him a “very sound, sharp and confident player” who is very competitive and “knows how to get open.” His overall speed won’t blow anyone away, but he is quick and explosive with good route-running technique. Eventual contributor in the passing attack.

Signed with Kentucky over Central Florida, South Florida, Cincinnati, Utah, Louisville and West Virginia.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Smooth route running speedster. Immediately increases speed and Yards after Catch capacity at slot receiver.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 2.10.57 PM Quinton Bohanna
Defensive Tackle| 6-4 | 315 lbs.
Cordova, TN | Cordova HS
ESPN  — | 69 DT Top247  No. 1111 | 70 DT
Rivals  — | — Scout  — | 95 DT

Bio: Quinton Bohanna committed to Kentucky in February of last year, shortly after attending Junior Day in Lexington. A three-time All-State player in the state of Tennessee, Bohanna projects to eventually play nose tackle for the Wildcats, with a strong likelihood of a redshirt season in 2017.

Signed with Kentucky over offers from Louisville and Memphis.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Active defensive lineman with heavy punch and rapid burst from stance to engagement.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 3.42.48 PM Lynn Bowden
Athlete| 6-1 | 185 lbs.
Youngstown, OH | Warren G. Harding
ESPN  — | 64 ATH Top247 No. 110 | 2 ATH
Rivals No. 197 | 17 ATH Scout No. 60 | 2 ATH

Bio: The Youngstown-native is the most explosive athlete in the class, arguably the most explosive athlete Mark Stoops has ever signed.  The runner-up for Ohio’s Mr. Football threw for 1,366 yards, rushed for 2,277 yards and accounted for 57 total touchdowns as a senior.  Bowden broke most of the school records held by Maurice Clarett.  In Ohio’s state record books, Bowden is ranked 6th in rushing yards and 10th in touchdowns.

Bowden will play right away, but where exactly remains uncertain.  A quarterback for Warren G. Harding, Bowden will likely play some Wildcat with Benny Snell.  He’ll improve the short passing game by catching screen passes from the slot and running back spot.  When Bowden enters the game, don’t blink, you might miss him.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Will become Kentucky’s best overall athlete on day one on campus. Could play significant role in Eddie Gran’s offense in 2017.


Yusuf Corker 
Cornerback| 6-0 | 190 lbs.
Stockbridge, GA | Woodland
ESPN  No. 221 | 21 CB Top247 No. 646 | 62 CB
Rivals — | 50 CB Scout No. 261 | 27 CB

Bio: A major recruiting move by the Cats, Corker picked UK over Tennessee, Florida, Clemson, Georgia and Michigan State.  Like many other cornerbacks Stoops has recruited to Kentucky, Corker is physically gifted.  The cover corner does not waste energy, fluidly transitioning from back pedal to sprint, utilizing quick-twitch muscles to react quickly to the ball.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Top CB in state of Georgia. Possesses preferred skill set to lock down receivers in one-on-one situations.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 3.44.16 PM Sebastien Dolcine
Offensive Guard/Tackle| 6-5 | 300 lbs.
Hollywood, FL | Miramar HS
ESPN  — | 74 OG Top247  — | 31 OG
Rivals  — | — Scout  — | —

Bio: Dolcine is an extremely physical prospect with a ton of potential. Great agility for a guy of his size, but needs to build more upper-body strength. Raw, but has the tools to become successful under John Schlarman.

Signed with Kentucky over UCF, USF, NC State, and Wake Forest

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Extremely raw talent with a nasty disposition and high ceiling. Steal of the class.


Austin Dotson
Offensive Tackle| 6-6 | 310 lbs.
Belfry, KY | Belfry
ESPN — | 80 OT Top247 No. 1023 | 94 OT
Rivals — | — Scout — | —

Bio: The Kentucky kid led a dominant offensive line to four consecutive state championship games.  A tackle for Phillip Haywood, Dotson could make the move down to guard at Kentucky.  An aggressive, hard-hitter with a “mean streak,” I pity those who lined up against him over the last four years. In no need to play right away, it will be interesting to see Dotson’s development under John Schlarman.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Line of scrimmage mauler reminiscent of Logan Stenberg.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 3.45.52 PM Isaiah Epps
Wide Receiver| 6-3 | 185 lbs.
Jenks, OK | Jenks HS
ESPN  — | — Top247  No. 1040 |  141 WR
Rivals  — | — Scout  — | —

Bio: Epps is a college-ready receiver who had a remarkable senior season at national powerhouse Jenks High School. He set a Jenks HS receiving record with 1,209 yards, 59 receptions, and 12 touchdowns.

Very new to the game, but a natural at the receiver position. Has starter potential after learning Kentucky’s system. Extremely underrated prospect with high ceiling.

Signed with Kentucky over Illinois.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Pure receiver with sharp angles out of break. Can execute every route in a college passing tree.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 3.46.35 PM Phil Hoskins
Defensive Tackle| 6-5 | 280 lbs.
Toledo, OH | Whitmer, Highland C.C.
ESPN JUCO — | 11 DT Top247 No. 41 | 4 DT
Rivals JUCO No. 21 Scout — | —

Bio: The JUCO transfer might be the most important recruit in the ’17 class.  In need of defensive lineman, Hoskins has the size and ability to play any of the front three spots in UK’s 3/4.  An aggressive pass rusher with an exceptional spin move, Hoskins can play situationally until he’s ready to handle the every down grind.  The only concern: Hoskins will need shoulder surgery and could miss some of fall camp.  Hoskins chose Kentucky over Arkansas, Baylor, Colorado and JUCO factory Miss. State.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Versatile, high-effort defensive lineman with ability and size to play all 3 positions along the line-of-scrimmage.


Alex King
Outside Linebacker | 6-4 | 225 lbs.
Mason, OH | William Mason
ESPN — | 72 DE Top247 No. 637 | 38 WDE
Rivals — | 30 DE Scout — | 43 DE

Bio: The outside linebacker shares many qualities with Kentucky’s Josh Allen.  Built more like a basketball player, King’s long arms are beneficial in the pass rush and his wide shoulders will support significant weight gain.  A dynamic pass rusher with 7 sacks and 14 TFL in his senior season, King will likely spend his first year as a redshirt to gain weight and learn drops in pass coverage.  King also considered Maryland, Tennessee, Wisconsin and West Virginia before choosing Kentucky.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Prototypical “Jack” LB with superb speed, motor, and aggression.


Michael Nesbitt
Cornerback| 6-0 | 185 lbs.
Fort Lauderdale, FL | Boyd Anderson
ESPN  — | 43 CB Top247  No. 1163 | 128 CB
Rivals  — | 60 CB Scout  — | 136 CB

Bio: One of the top corners in the state of Florida, where he went against several of the best wide receivers in high school football, Michael Nesbitt is a proven defensive back who can also play a little safety or nickel, if needed.

Signed with Kentucky over offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Louisville, South Carolina and Central Florida.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: “Havoc” stat producer, Nesbitt is a perfect, diverse defensive back in Mark Stoops’ scheme.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 2.44.59 PM Joshua Paschal
Defensive End | 6-4 | 255 lbs.
Olney, MD | Good Counsel
ESPN  — | 29 DE Top247  No. 191 | 8 DE
Rivals  — | 10 DE Scout  No. 292 | 29 DE

Bio: The younger brother of TraVaughn Paschal, a former linebacker at Kentucky under Mark Stoops, Joshua Pashcal is the star of the class and an immediate contender for playing time as a true freshman. One national analyst called him the most athletic defensive end in the country, and if you watch his film, you will agree. This is a HUGE get for the Wildcats.

Signed with Kentucky over Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and USC, among others.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Instinctive, productive, and disruptive defender that could make an immediate impact. Elite edge rusher.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 3.40.02 PM JaVonte Richardson
Wide Receiver| 6-4 | 230 lbs.
Maple Heights, OH | Maple Heights HS
ESPN  — | 24 WR Top247 No. 227 | 32 WR
Rivals No. 114 | 5 WR Scout — | 47 S

Bio: Richardson is a freak of nature athlete with an NFL body, ready to contribute immediately. Fights for 50/50 balls, goes for the extra block, all-around winner. Great hands and body control, makes tough catches. Imagine Dorian Baker without the drops.

As a senior at Maple Heights, he compiled 1,190 all-purpose yards and earned a 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl nomination.

Signed with Kentucky over Michigan, Purdue, Michigan State, and Illinois

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Competitive, team-first athlete with freakish athletic ability and size/strength to win 50/50 situations.


Naasir Watkins
Offensive Tackle| 6-5 | 300 lbs.
Olney, MD | Our Lady of Good Counsel
ESPN  — | 94 OT Top247  — | 92 OT
Rivals  — | — Scout  — | —

Bio: Watkins converted from a tight end to play right tackle, has agility to back that up. Extremely athletic and long, but still very raw. He will need a year to redshirt, but certainly has starter potential.

Signed with Kentucky over Pittsburgh and Virginia.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Built like a power forward, Watkins has the size and athletic ability to play Guard, Center, and Tackle.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 3.48.08 PM Chris Whittaker
Defensive End| 6-4 | 260 lbs.
Hollywood, FL | Chaminade-Madonna Prep
ESPN  — | 106 DE Top247 No. 1004 | 55 DE
Rivals  — | — Scout  — | —

Bio: Whittaker is easily one of the most underrated players in the class, despite being rated as a three-star prospect. As a senior, he had 77 tackles (22 for loss), 10.5 sacks, and two fumble recoveries. The staff is extremely high on him because of his high motor combined with size and speed.

Signed with Kentucky over Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: “Jordan Jones” motor with stunt devil nerve. Fast and violent defensive lineman.


Jordan Wright
Defensive End| 6-5 | 250 lbs.
Fort Lauderdale, FL | Dillard HS
ESPN  — | 46 DE Top247  — | 28 DE
Rivals  — | 25 DE Scout  — | —

Bio: Wright is an absolute athletic freak of nature with aggressiveness and high motor. He’s raw as a prospect, and may need a redshirt year to develop, but will absolutely make an impact at defensive end in a few years.

Signed with Kentucky over Alabama, Florida State, Miami, Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Sky is the limit for Wright. Elite athlete, will rapidly improve with technical advancement. Preferred measurable for an edge rusher.


Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 3.18.16 PM Danny Clark
Quarterback | 6-4 | 223 lbs.
Akron, OH | Archbishop Hoban
ESPN — | 13 Dual-QB Top247 No. 567 | 22 Pro-QB
Rivals — | Pro-QB Scout — | 25 QB

Bio: Clark committed to Ohio State early in his high school career and went as far as tattooing the Buckeyes logo on his arm, but when Ohio State continued to recruit his position, Clark reopened his recruitment and eventually became a Wildcat.

Expect him to start in 2017 and then compete for the starting QB job in 2018 and on. Don’t be surprised if he is Kentucky’s starter under center one day.

Comment from Coach Stoops: “Danny is an exceptional leader, competitor and winner, having led his team to two state championships.”

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Brash, bold, strong-armed QB that led his team to back-to-back state championships.


Jamin Davis
Linebacker| 6-4 | 210 lbs.
Ludawici, Georgia | Long County HS
ESPN — | 53 OLB Top247 No. 902 | 58 OLB
Rivals  — | — Scout  — | —

Bio: Davis is a massive linebacker with elite tackling ability. He has a high football IQ and takes smart angles to the ball carrier, making him a force on the field.

In his senior year, Davis finished with 126 tackles (89 solo), good for 14 tackles a game. Also had a sack, a fumble recovery, forced two fumbles, and blocked both a punt and a field goal.

Signed with Kentucky over Georgia Tech, Louisville, and NC State.

Comment from Coach Stoops: “Jamin is a prototype will (weakside) linebacker, a very athletic player with great length. He is an exceptional person and leader.”

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Seeks intelligent contact with high tackle production. Tall-rangy linebacker; leader.


Cedrick Dort
Cornerback| 5-11 | 170 lbs.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL | Dwyer
ESPN — | 121 CB Top247 — | 157 CB
Rivals — | — Scout — | 124 CB

Bio: The early enrollee chose Kentucky over Wisconsin, Minnesota and Syracuse.  One reason why Dort came to Lexington early was to add bulk in UK’s strength and conditioning program.  Through two weeks he’s gained 8 pounds.  Dort boasts an extremely impressive stat from his senior season: he did not allow a TD pass, a first down pass or a pass over five yards during the regular season.  On a less serious note, Dort’s high school head coach is Jack Daniels.

Comment from Coach Stoops: “Cedric is a great cover corner. I’ve been familiar with that school for a long time and Cedric comes here from a winning program.”

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Didn’t allow a TD or miss a tackle as a high school senior. Former basketball player has only played 2 seasons of football. Boundless potential.


Lonnie Johnson
Defensive Back (JUCO) | 6-3 | 190 lbs.
Gary, IN | Garden City CC/Gary West Side
ESPN — | — Top247 JUCO No. 51 | 4 S
Rivals — | — Scout — | —

Bio: It was a long road to the University of Kentucky for Lonnie Johnson, who will compete for playing time right away. The highly-touted defensive back out of Gary, Indiana committed to Ohio State out of high school, but turned to junior college when he couldn’t make the grade. After stops at San Bernardino Valley College and Garden City Community College, plus a failed attempt to enroll at Iowa State, Johnson buckled down and focused on his academics, allowing him to enroll at UK this spring.

Read more on Johnson’s long and difficult journey here.

Comment from Coach Stoops: “We’re very excited to add Lonnie. He has great size and athleticism, with the versatility to play multiple positions.”

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Can play CB, Safety, and Nickel. Immediate contributor on defense and special teams. Exceptional size/speed combination.


Bryant Koback
Running Back | 5-11 | 191 lbs.
Holland, OH | Springfield HS
ESPN — | 50 RB Top247 No. 531 | 32 RB
Rivals — | 39 RB Scout — | 47 RB

Bio: Bryant Koback’s senior season in Ohio got off to an amazing start, until a horrific leg injury put him out for the remainder of his high school career. The speedy back, once an Ohio State commit, enrolled at UK early to focus on rehabilitating the injury, and will sit out the spring as a precautionary measure. He could see touches as a freshman if he gets back to 100 percent before the fall.

Comment from Coach Stoops:Bryant is a great kid and a home run threat on the field.  He is an electric runner, with excellent vision and top-end speed.”

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Multiple cut, highly productive runner with 4.3 speed.


Clevan Thomas
Wide Receiver| 5-11 | 190 lbs.
Miami, FL | Charles W. Flanagan
ESPN — | 143 WR Top247 — | 150 WR
Rivals — | 70 WR Scout — | 173 WR

Bio: The early enrollee’s father, Clevan Sr., was the starting cornerback for Florida State’s 1999 National Championship team.  Clevan Jr. knew he was legit once he beat his dad.  An explosive, physical receiver, Thomas immediately becomes the Cats most-physically gifted slot receiver.  With a semester of growing pains ahead, Thomas should be ready to receive significant playing time in the fall.  Thomas chose UK over UofL, Michigan, Syracuse and Vanderbilt.

Comment from Coach Stoops: “Clevan is an exciting wide receiver, an extremely tough competitor who has shown the athletic ability to play multiple positions. His father was a great player at Florida State and I see a lot of the same qualities in Clevan.”

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Extremely quick burst-change of direction receiver. Physically ready to play slot receiver now.


Walker Wood
Dual-Threat Quarterback | 6-1 | 187 lbs.
Lexington, KY | Lafayette
ESPN — | 34 DT-QB Top247 No. 1279 | 25 DT-QB
Rivals — | 22 DT-QB Scout — | 62 QB

Bio: Walker Wood, a Lexington native, will get his shot at quarterback, where he completed 203 of 321 passes (63.2 percent) for 3,047 yards and 30 touchdowns in his senior season at Lafayette. But with the depth and potential at the QB position, many expect Wood to ultimately make a position change if he is going to see the field.

Comment from Coach Stoops: “Both of the quarterbacks in this class have similar qualities – Walker is an exceptional leader, competitor and winner. He’s a dual-threat quarterback who can be the most dangerous when a play breaks down.”

Freddie Maggard’s Take: Highly productive quarterback that will benefit from early enrollment to rehabilitate injured knee.

On Lamar Thomas’ Christmas, He Gives Lynn Bowden a Nickname

Today @CoachLamarT gave himself a nickname, Mr. 41-38.

Today @CoachLamarT also gave himself a nickname, Mr. 41-38.

On the afternoon of National Signing Day you see a variety of emotions from football coaches, from tired and relieved to ecstatic.  We saw the latter today from the Kentucky football coaches, none more so than Lamar Thomas.

Kentucky’s wide receivers coach was dapper, as usual, but he had an extra pep in his step.  Known as a trash-talker, Thomas is actually quite the opposite in most interviews, speaking softly with reservations.  That was not the case today after five new players signed on the dotted line to join his meeting room.

The best of the bunch is the best overall recruit in the 2017 class.  Lynn Bowden will spend time at slot receiver.  Throughout the day, we’ve heard his name pronounced two ways:

  1. Bou-den: Sounds like the part of a ship, or what you do to pay respect to someone.
  2. Bō-den: Sounds like what you use to shoot an arrow or use to wrap a present.

The UK Athletics official bio uses the second pronunciation, but I prefer the first.  Not trying to mispronounce his new star player’s last name, LT compromised.

“Lynn brings A LOT and we’re excited about Mr. Lynn.  I don’t want to mispronounce his last name.  I don’t know if it’s Bou-den or Bō-den.  Whatever it is, it equals excitement.  Maybe I should just call him Mr. Excitement.”

It was the first of many statements that got his audience laughing, sharing a sly smile with each deadpan delivery.

“I can’t wait, I can’t wait to see all five of those kids.  I just really believe it’s going to make our group better.  You’ll see even more improvements than you saw last year,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot of slots, a lot of outside guys.  Hell, we may have to go five-wide.  Then Benny (Snell) gets mad.”  We chuckled again.  “We got a lot of talent.  That’s a good thing.  It’s a great problem to have.”

LT wasn’t finished.  He could not contain his happiness, comparing it to the most wonderful time of the year.

“It was like Christmas this morning.  It really was.  It felt like I was 12 years old back in Ocala, Florida.  Presents were open and I was happy.  Now I get to have a couple of those toys for spring and right before the season starts, I get to open a few more.  It’s a great day.”

See more from Thomas after the jump.


NSD 2017: Who Will Play Right Away

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

For those who don’t live and breathe football recruiting, National Signing Day is met with sighs and a common question: “Are any of these guys actually going to play this year?”

Benny Snell proved that the right true freshman can make an immediate impact, but it’s almost as rare as Mr. Clean with hair.  This ain’t basketball.  I’ve grouped the 24 signees into three categories to help you understand where they’ll stand this fall.

Will Play

ATH Lynn Bowden: duh.

OLB Joshua Paschal: Josh Allen and Denzil Ware have secured starting positions, but they didn’t really have backups a year ago as JUCO transfer Jordan Bonner started his season late, while Kobie Walker and De’Niro Laster dealt with injuries.  Paschal’s versatility will put him in position to play in some capacity, especially on special teams (a punt returner’s worst nightmare).

CB Lonnie Johnson:  He’ll push Baity and Westry for playing time immediately, and could be moved around to nickel or safety to make sure the JUCO athlete is on the field.

DL Phil Hoskins: The only thing keeping the defensive lineman off the field is injuries.  Today Jimmy Brumbaugh told KSR that should not be the case this fall.


Wide Receivers:  Between JaVonte Richardson, Clevan Thomas, Joshua Ali and Isaiah Epps, at least one of them will receive significant snaps.  It’s hard to guess who will breakthrough in the crowded position group, but my early money is on Thomas.  The Cats need slots, he’s here early, he has more size than any other slot on the depth chart, and he shares the same name as his position coach.

RB Bryant Koback: The early enrollee has everything to put him in a position to succeed as a true freshman, if all goes according to plan during the rehabilitation process for the broken leg he suffered during his senior season.

LB Jamin Davis: Matt House returns his two-deep at linebacker, but today he didn’t hesitate to say a freshman could play right away.  Kash Daniel had some success as a true freshman; this early enrollee could have similar success.

DB Tyrell Ajian:  Even though it might be a stretch to see him play any safety this season, he could play an important role in special teams.

OLB Jordan Wright:  Everything depends on how well he can pick up the outside linebacker position.  Wright could be used situationally, or they might do what they did with Denzil Ware: redshirt him and let him learn from a pair of guys who will play in the NFL.

DL Quinton Bohanna:  Usually true freshman don’t play on the defensive line, but they need big bodies in the interior.  At 6’4″ 320, Bohanna qualifies as a big body.



Offensive Linemen: Landon Young is an exception to the rule John Schlarman instituted: freshmen offensive linemen redshirt.  You’ll see Sebastien Dolcine, Austin Dotson and Naasir Watkins in the rotation before too long.

Alex King: The talented outside linebacker doesn’t need to play right away, but he does need to hit the weight room.

Cedrick Dort, Michael Nesbitt, Yusuf Corker: The cornerbacks will learn under Kentucky’s deep, talented secondary.

Danny Clark and Walker Wood: Wood needs the time to ensure he’s fully recovered from injury, but regardless, freshman years for quarterbacks are usually used for redshirts.

D-Line “Projects:” Chris Whittaker and Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald have tremendous upside, but need a year to grow into their bodies, improve technique and learn the defense.

WATCH: NSD interviews with John Schlarman, Matt House, Lamar Thomas, and Jimmy Brumbaugh

WATCH: NSD interviews with John Schlarman, Matt House, Lamar Thomas, and Jimmy Brumbaugh

Screen Shot 2017-02-01 at 3.23.33 PM

Following UK’s post-National Signing Day presser featuring Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow, KSR caught up with OL coach John Schlarman, DC Matt House, WR coach Lamar Thomas, and DL coach Jimmy Brumbaugh.

Check out the interviews here: