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Add another Ohio commitment to the 2016 class

Yahtzee!

Kentucky added yet another football commitment from Ohio today, this time in the form of 6-foot-5, 278 pound offensive lineman Luke Fortner. Fortner, a three-star offensive tackle, tweeted: “Committed to play football at the University of Kentucky! #BBN”

He also had offers from Cincinnati, Maryland and Marshall, among others.

Kentucky’s 2016 class now has 14 commitments, eight from Ohio and three on the offensive line.


(via Hudl.com)

Update: YAHTZEE! Receiver Dakota Holtzclaw has committed to Kentucky

(via Hudl.com)

(via Hudl.com)

Update:

According to Justin Rowland of RIVALS, the Cats received a commitment from Dakota Holtzclaw following his visit yesterday.

We know there was an offer thanks to Twitter…

…and we know Dakota had fun at the basketball game.

Nothing official yet, and no YAHTZEE from Coach Morrow since Thursday, but the initial signals seem positive.

For now, enjoy some of the tall receiver’s highlights.


UK football added a Yahtzee during the basketball game

A brief interruption from the basketball excitement…

Kentucky picked up a football commitment from Jaylin Bannerman, a three-star linebacker from… yup… Ohio. Bannerman is listed at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds and he had other offers Illinois, Miami OH and Toledo.

Here he is with soon-to-be first-rounder Bud Dupree…

https://twitter.com/therealjaylin11/status/571754090922954752


Photo courtesy of Scout.com

Four-Star Tennessee QB Commit Could Flip To Kentucky

Photo courtesy of Scout.com

Photo courtesy of Scout.com

Austin Kendall, a 2016 four-star QB from Waxhaw, North Carolina, committed to Tennessee last August. But after the Volunteers added three four-star QBs in the 2015 class, Kendall is reportedly reconsidering Kentucky. Austin is the little brother of UK walk-on WR Ryan Kendall. According to Cats Illustrated’s Justin Rowland, the younger Kendall expressed to him that it felt nice to feel wanted by Shannon Dawson and the UK staff.

According to Rivals, Kendall is the No. 3 pro-style QB in the country and the No. 27 player overall in the 2016 class. On a television appearance Wednesday with KSTV, Rowland said that he believed Kendall would be Kentucky’s top recruit of the Mark Stoops era. His Rivals ranking compares favorably to Drew Barker, who was the No. 5 pro-style QB and ranked No. 132 overall.

Other recruiting sites project Kendall lower, but he is a four-star prospect according to all four major services.

Scout: No. 19 QB
247 Sports: No. 8 pro-style QB
ESPN: No. 15 pocket passer

The Johnny Manziel look-alike made it to Lexington last weekend for a visit and the 247 Sports Crystal Ball projects a 38% chance that he ends up at Kentucky.


YAHTZEE! 3-star TE Justin Rigg commits to Kentucky

Mark Stoops is wasting no time with his 2016 class. According to Justin Rowland, 3-star tight end Justin Rigg has committed to Kentucky. Rigg is from Springboro, Ohio, prime Vince Marrow country, and he’s considered the 28th best tight end in the country by 247 Sports.

At 6’6″, 240 lbs., Rigg is big, and accordingly, holds offers from Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Miami (OH), Ohio, Pitt, Toledo, and West Virginia. He visited Kentucky for their Junior Day last weekend.

Rigg is reportedly UK’s #1 TE target, which explains why big Vince is so excited:

Welcome aboard, Justin Rigg. Can I call you Riggins?


YAHTZEE #2! Asim “AJ” Rose commits to Kentucky!

Well, it’s been quite the day for UK’s 2016 football class. This morning, 3-star RB Benny Snell committed to Kentucky, and this afternoon, Ohio athlete Asim “AJ” Rose is following in his footsteps. AJ announced the news on Twitter moments ago:

The 6’2″ 190 lbs. Rose is from Cleveland, Ohio and listed as an athlete, but will likely play running back for the Cats. He visited Kentucky for Junior Day this past weekend and has offers from Bowling Green and Toledo.

Welcome aboard, AJ. Here are his highlights:


Yahtzee! 2016 3-star RB Benny Snell commits to Kentucky

Yahtzee! 2016 3-star RB Benny Snell commits to Kentucky

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 1.00.23 PM

YAHTZEE! According to Justin Rowland, 2016 3-star running back Benny Snell has committed to Kentucky. Snell is a 6′ 210 lbs. back from Westerville, Ohio with offers from Kentucky, Iowa, Cincinnati, Miami (OH), Toledo, and others. His offer sheet may not seem impressive, but if we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s to trust Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow with kids from Ohio.

Snell just confirmed the news on Twitter:

Snell is Kentucky’s 9th commitment in the 2016 class. Watch him work:


Drake Jackson picks up South Carolina offer, but he’s not interested

drake

Drake Jackson is the cornerstone of Kentucky’s 2016 class. The Woodford county lineman is considered the best center in the country and has eagerly taken over the role of lead recruiter in his class, following in the footsteps of Drew Barker, Matt Elam, CJ Conrad, and Eli Brown.

Yesterday, Jackson picked up an offer from South Carolina to go along with the ones he’s gotten from Alabama, Ohio State, and Tennessee. Given the recent football recruiting slide, the news may have caused some Kentucky fans to panic, so Jackson took to Twitter to reassure the Big Blue Nation that he’s a Cat for good:

Good.


2016 UK target Quinton Baker ran a 4.29 40 today

While the rest of us were loafing around the house and snacking our way through Winter Storm Octavia, Ashland running back Quinton Baker was doing work. The former 2016 UK commit ran a 4.29 40-yard dash at the Battle of the Midwest Combine in Indianapolis this afternoon, the fastest time of any participant. According to 247 Sports’ Steve Wiltfong, Baker’s time was recorded by three different watches.

Baker committed to Kentucky back in October, but decommitted a month later; however, the Cats are still considered his favorite. So far, Baker has offers from Kentucky, Ohio, Ball State, and EKU, but interest will continue to pick up from the big guys if he keeps turning in times like that.

Here are some highlights to show you just how speedy Baker is:


Yahtzee! UK lands new 2016 football commitment

Kentucky added a new member to its 2016 football recruiting class this afternoon with a pledge from Tobias Gilliam, a three-star cornerback from Hubert Heights, Ohio. Gilliam is listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds and he had offers from Indiana, Cincinnati and several MAC schools.

More importantly, Gilliam is a teammate of Messiah deWeaver, one of UK’s primary targets and the seventh-ranked pro-style quarterback in the class.

He will attend UK’s Junior Day later this month.

Yahtzee.


Kentucky adds Bryan Station wide receiver as preferred walk-on

Kentucky picked up a preferred walk-on commitment this morning from CJ Walker, a wide receiver from Bryan Station in Lexington. Hudl lists Walker at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds.

He announced the news on Twitter.

Welcome aboard.


A Late Night Recap Of National Signing Day 2015

A Late Night Recap Of National Signing Day 2015

IMG_3848

Hey there. I don’t know if you heard yet, but Wednesday was National Signing Day and there was A LOT going on around Kentucky football. Mark Stoops and his staff added 23 new players to the program for 2015 and shut the door on the third class in the Stoops era, a group with a lot of potential across the board. The six early enrollees on campus added 17 new faces to the rookie class Wednesday morning and there were a ton of words written and said about them throughout the day. So tonight, before I pass out, or maybe as I pass out, I’ll try to provide the most important stuff in the end-of-day recap. For all of the other goods, check out our KSR links from the day below:

NSD Live Diary, Pt. I | NSD Live Diary, Pt. II | NSD Live Diary, Pt. III
Today’s Podcast |Roush’s BreakdownPhotos and Other Takeaways

Whew. What a day.

 

Here is your 2015 class.

2015 class

 

The new class ranked 37th in the Rivals.com Team Rankings.

247Sports.com ranked Kentucky 40th overall, while ESPN has Kentucky at No. 43.

Stoops told us it would’ve been a Top 25 class and better than last year if the early signing day were already in place.

There was an emphasis on size and length in this class. 

If I had a dollar for every time a coach said ‘size’ or ‘length’ or ‘physical’ on Wednesday, I’d have enough money to pay the court costs for each member of Bobby Petrino’s recruiting class, combined. It’s clear there was an emphasis on getting bigger and the staff succeeded, especially in the secondary with the addition of several tall defensive backs, and in the passing game with two signees listed at 6-3 and another at 6-6.

Watch Mark Stoops’ Signing Day press conference…

Stoops opened up his third Signing Day press conference by saying, “It’s an exciting time. I feel very good about this recruiting class. As you all know and have been following, it’s been a little bit of a grind. It’s been a tough year in certain aspects and great in others. I feel like we really hit on a bunch of guys we were looking for. Big thing that you’ll notice with this group is great size, great length. We feel like we hit a lot of areas of need in the secondary, O‑line, D‑line. Overall, very pleased with this group.”

And D.J. Eliot…

Kentucky’s defensive coordinator is excited to add more size on his side of the ball as UK tries to match the size of the SEC. “Coach Stoops has always emphasized size and speed in recruits and we really hit on that this year and we’re certainly pleased,” Eliot said.

And Shannon Dawson…

Dawson has only been in Lexington for about a week, so he’s still learning his away around the program and meeting his offensive personnel. He hopes to avoid using needing name tags, he joked.

As for the first-year players coming in with him in this class, Dawson is very excited about three big wide receivers. He said, “The ability to go vertical is huge. To do that you need guys that are tall that can make plays down the field and are rangy. You look at the three guys, those guys all fit the bill. All of them are tall, they’re rangy, they can run. Good ball skills, good basketball players, which usually translates into a good job of torquing your body and handling the ball. I’m excited about all those guys.”

And Vince Marrow…

Marrow nailed it with his opening line: “First year, we sold hope. The second year was more about getting need. Now we got to start winning.”

Andy Buh introduced as UK’s new outside linebackers coach.

Buh, a former defensive coordinator at California, Stanford and Nevada, has joined the Kentucky football coaching staff, Stoops announced Wednesday. He will fill the opening left behind by safeties coach Craig Naivar, but a shakeup in the defensive staff will have him coaching outside linebackers. Cornerbacks coach Derrick Ansley and Mark Stoops will share the responsibility with the safeties in the secondary.

“I jumped at the opportunity to be part of Mark Stoops’ staff,” Buh said in a release from UK. “He’s one of the best defensive coaches in the country and has had remarkable success on that side of the ball.”

Stoops addressed the Richmond bar incident on KSR.

Coach Stoops was surprisingly candid when asked about the Richmond bar fight that allegedly involved three of his players: Drew Barker, Dorian Baker and Tymere Dubose. He told KSR he believes in them, they are good kids and people are quick to judge without knowing the facts.

“Those are good kids. I know more about the situation and about them than most people and it’s easy for people to just judge them on what comes out initially in the media and everything else. Whatever the outcome is, were they wrong in certain aspects? Absolutely. We’re not afraid to address kids when they’re wrong, I’ve always said that. I accept responsibility for wins and losses and I accept responsibility are not acting appropriately off the field.”

Stoops said if he didn’t believe in those guys, or anyone else on the team, they wouldn’t be at Kentucky.

Stoops also explained why there won’t be a Spring Game.

For everyone asking for the annual intrasquad scrimmage to be played in a high school stadium, Stoops made a very good point that changed my opinion, because I was one of the many people calling for the game to be played somewhere, anywhere, until today. He pointed out that it’s already hard to field two competitive teams in that game when the freshmen aren’t on campus and several guys are recovering from offseason procedures, so playing it in a high school stadium will only make it look even more like an actual high school game. That won’t exactly drive enthusiasm heading into the summer.

However, for those fans that must get a glimpse of the team in the spring, Stoops plans to open several practices to allow that opportunity. So there ya go.

I’ll leave you with Kentucky Wildcats TV’s Sights and Sounds from Signing Day…

Time to crash.


Photos And Other Takeaways From Inside The Building On National Signing Day

Photos And Other Takeaways From Inside The Building On National Signing Day

big-board

Photo taken pre-8:00 am (That’s early for me)

National Signing Day 2015 is over for the University of Kentucky and it was a long and eventful Wednesday in the football facilities. Beginning around, oh, early than I ever get up, Mark Stoops and his staff started receiving what turned out to be 17 new signatures for the new 23-man class, and closed the book on over a year’s worth of recruiting with a group they’re very happy about. Now they are excited to get to work on the upcoming season and building the 2016 class, immediately. The work never stops.

As for you, the fans, by now you’ve learned the new names and read all you can read about the group (if not, catch up) so tonight I’ll share with you a little bit of what I took in behind the scenes when KSR was given access to the building.

Here’s a few stories and photos from my tiny corner out of the important people’s way…

 

maggard-gabriel

Dick Gabriel and Freddie Maggard on set

Vince Marrow learned of Courtney Miggins while on air with KSR.

Maybe the coolest moment from Wednesday morning’s radio show came when Matt was handed a piece of paper while interviewing Vince Marrow. The note was to let us know of the 22nd signature of the class, Courtney Miggins, and Marrow quickly jerked the sheet of paper out of Matt’s hands to read the news.

As it turned out, Marrow was unsure if Miggins would choose Kentucky or Mississippi State, and he was genuinely excited to learn the news. I don’t know how it translated to radio, but that was not false excitement; Marrow was thrilled to land Miggins and the smile on his face told us he really didn’t know ahead of time.

“That’s real good news,” Marrow told us. “I thought he was going to Mississippi State, it was going back and forth. That’s huge. The last we heard, he was going the other way. That’s a huge get.”

It reminded me of last year when Mark Stoops found out about a commitment during his KSR interview. It’s really cool to see the coaches’ reactions when they learn of a new signature and we’ve been lucky to have it happen twice in two years.

magnet-room

Matt waits for his first guest in the magnet room

UK killed it once again with the Signing Day Special.

For those of you who followed UK’s online Signing Day Special, I can’t begin to tell you how much work went into the four-hour live production. I helped out with KSTV for two years and nothing we did scratched the surface of the show UK put together for fans this morning. Everyone involved deserves a pat on the back for the hard work that went into the coverage and it went off without any real problems for a second consecutive year, from what I could tell.

What’s really amazing about it is they were able to work around Ryan Lemond and me standing in the way, no matter where we were. It was a tight squeeze behind the scenes but UK killed it with the show.

matt-stoops

Matt chats with Stoops early in the morning

Shannon Dawson is a great interview, not afraid to take a shot down field.

We won’t know what he can do with an offensive playbook until the fall, but Shannon Dawson is off to a great start with the media, at least to us. UK’s new offensive coordinator made his first ever appearance with KSR this morning and he didn’t shy away from cutting up on, and off, the show.

Dawson definitely has the personality to be popular among the fans and we’re looking forward to getting him on the golf course this summer. Can’t wait to see what he can do with UK’s offense next season, too.

When asked if he’s willing to throw the deep ball, he quickly told us, “Don’t give it to me. Blackjack is the name of the game. We’ll go all-in, no doubt. Don’t give it to me. We’ll take it.”

ryan-nsd

Ryan Lemond helping out with recruiting

The Wildcats have SEC bodies.

With five hours spent around the football facilities came several interactions with current players who were in and out of the building for workouts. And let me tell you, they pass the eye test.

I know size and muscles don’t win football games, but it’s clear Kentucky has caught up with the rest of the conference in the weight room. Even Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow noted that they see a different kind of athlete now as opposed to when they first got on campus.

It’s not just the veterans, either. George Asafo-Adjei is MASSIVE. I ran into him on a narrow stairwell and I took a few steps back down to let him pass so I wouldn’t get trampled. He’s been on campus for a week and could pass for a senior.

Stoops-nsd

Stoops adds a new signee to the board

My favorite part of Signing Day: The breakfast.

Hey, I’m just being honest here. When that alarm went off at 5:30 am this morning, four hours before it usually does, I popped right up and jumped in the shower with excitement — and it had nothing to do with UK football’s big day.

My mind was on that omelet (or omelette) waiting for me in the lobby with a side of biscuits and gravy. And potatoes. And fruit. And a second omelet. And another biscuit. With a little more gravy.

Shout-out to these guys, the real MVPs of Signing Day…

omelet-bar

The real reason I got up at before sunrise

Freddie Maggard’s new shoes needed more camera time.

If there’s one thing UK dropped the ball on during the Signing Day Special, it was hiding Freddie Maggard’s new shoes from the folks at home. The former UK quarterback broke out a brand new pair of blue shoes for the day, picked out by his wife, only to have the fresh kicks tucked away under a table and out of frame.

It’s the second year in a row Freddie’s wardrobe has been covered up during his TV time. Last year he bought a new sweater for the show — because he’s a professional — and UK had him change into Nike gear to match the coaches.

Shoe censorship aside, Freddie and Dick Gabriel did a great job with their analysis of the new class.

maggard-shoes

Maggard’s new Signing Day shoes

The coaches were excited to add their guys to the board.

The overall excitement was a little down from last year, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. It was fun to watch the coaches rush to the big board with the magnets to add each new signee, which must be a huge feeling of relief after the amount of time they put in with each player.

For example, Chad Scott refused to let anyone else place one of his guys on the board, insisting that he do it before sitting down for an interview. He and several others were pumped to officially lock down their guys in the class.

And as far as the overall excitement being down, I see it as last year’s class was ready to go way ahead of time so everyone was a little more relaxed on Signing Day, while this year there was some last minute work and waiting to be done. Last year was more of a celebration from start to finish, concluding with all of the coaches putting Matt Elam’s name on the board together.

UK staff hard at work in the social media room.

UK staff hard at work in the social media room.

Jared Lorenzen contributed nothing. Absolutely nothing.

But we did take this early morning selfie…

IMG_3844

Seriously, Jared. If anyone did less than me, it was you.

(Kidding. Kind of.)

film-room

Shannon Dawson and Jeff Piecoro in the film room

The new 23 are a great group.

The 2015 class may not have the star-studded names of last year, but it’s still a group fans should be excited about. If anyone tells you it was a down year in recruiting, remind them this class is ranked higher than any class in the history of the program before Mark Stoops arrived.

Welcome aboard, guys…

final-board

Final look at the big board


Watch the replay of the 2015 Signing Day Special

Grab some popcorn and sit back and enjoy the entire online broadcast of this morning’s show.


Matt Elam and Patrick Towles threw it back to the day they signed with UK

Two of the biggest names in Kentucky football hopped on social media today to reflect back on their own National Signing Day memories. First it was Matt Elam, the star of last year’s class, who called Signing Day 2014 the best day of his life.

While Patrick Towles remembered his big day, three years ago, when he made one of the greatest decisions of his life.