Football Recruiting News
In the first Kentucky football recruiting showcase of the 2019 recruiting season, Mark Stoops opened his doors to more than 120 prospects from more than a dozen states.
Unlike previous Junior Days, the invitation-only event was not dominated by recruits from Ohio. Of course there were a few big names from the Buckeye state, but there were just as many hailing from Michigan, Missouri and Louisiana.
The biggest name from Steve Clinkscale’s Michigan territory was Michael Fletcher. The No. 10 player in the state is one of the 25 best defensive ends in the country. After the visit he Tweeted: “Had a great time at Kentucky! Will definitely be back.”
From the uncharted lands of Missouri, 6’3″ wide receiver C.J. Boone spent his day at UK enjoying time with Paul Tyson, the grandson of Bear Bryant who is one of the ten best pocket-passers in the nation. Tyson wasn’t the only quarterback on campus.
— C J A Y B O O N E?. (@Cjay5k) February 24, 2018
You can see more here.
A New QB Scholarship Offer
If there’s one position you need to lock up early, it’s quarterback. Darin Hinshaw and Eddie Gran did their part by inviting four quarterbacks to campus.
Kentucky has been Tyson’s radar probably longer than any other school. The same could be said for Hayden Wolff. A big man (6’5″) with a big arm, the Cats are the early favorites for Wolff. Those two arrived in Lexington with UK scholarship offers. Dual-threat quarterback Nik Scalzo left Lexington with an offer from Eddie Gran.
“After having a great visit with Coach Stoops, Gran, and Hinshaw, I am honored to say that I have received an offer from THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY,” Scalzo Tweeted.
He’s only 6-feet tall, but he’s caught the eyes of many schools in the camp circuits. Illinois and a slew of Ivy League schools have also extended offers to the seventeenth-ranked dual-threat passer in 2019.
The other quarterback on campus is also considered a dual-threat. Travis Mumphrey from Marrero, Louisiana brought a couple of teammates with him to Lexington, but did not leave with an offer.
Cats Offer Louisville Commit
Demontae Crumes committed to Louisville last week. Yesterday Kentucky coaches extended him a scholarship offer in Lexington.
A Louisville native from Butler High School, I can confirm that Crumes can catch passes. In fact, the time I watched Crumes from the stands, his efforts in the end zone almost single-handedly carried Butler to a victory. The 6’1″ wide out plays bigger than his size and was good enough to lead Butler to one of their best seasons in a decade.
Kentucky has a long time to convince Crumes to leave his hometown. It doesn’t hurt that he grew up cheering for Kentucky.
An Important Legacy Recruit
Arguably the biggest name on Kentucky’s campus this weekend was a familiar one. Mo Douglass was a safety at UK from 1984-1986. Yesterday he brought his daughter and son to Lexington.
Moses Douglass is a four-star safety that is considered one of the best 300 players in America. He holds offers from more than 20 schools, including most of the Big 10 conference. Coached by his father, the elder Douglass has sent some of his former players, like defensive tackle Kordell Looney, to Kentucky. Can Stoops and Marrow convince him to send his son to school down I-75 South?
Not All Juniors
Even though it’s called Junior Day, UK’s coaching staff still invites underclassmen.
The biggest of the bunch was Paris Johnson Jr. The 6’7″ 275-pound offensive tackle from Cincinnati St. X is the No. 113 player in his class according to 247. Before he completed his visit, Johnson Jr. Tweeted, “Amazing visit! Blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with Coach Marrow, Coach Schlarman, Coach Gran and Coach Stoops!”
Johnson Jr. received a scholarship prior to his visit. Kentucky waited until John Young got to campus to extend a scholarship offer. A 6’8″ 280-pound offensive lineman from Christian Academy of Louisville, Rex Chapman and Steve Romines were ecstatic when they heard the news.
Kentucky didn’t exclusively invite big underclassmen. Four-star North Carolina wide receiver Mike Wyman picked up an offer before he left Lexington.
Tweet of the Weekend
The football recruiting Twitter world was filled with tons of pictures from the uniformed photoshoots. Many were bypassed, but this caption from four-star Michigan wide receiver Rashawn Williams was an exception.
— Rashawn Williams (@troule19) February 25, 2018
While the basketball world was buzzing about the latest in the FBI scandal, Mark Stoops was preparing for one of his biggest recruiting weekends of the year.
This weekend is Kentucky football’s annual Junior Day. UK will open its doors to hundreds of the most talented prospects in the 2019 football recruiting class. For many, it’s Stoops and Vince Marrow’s first chance to WOW the next class. The recruits will come in droves from top high schools across the country. Even if it’s a longshot, getting the best of the best on campus this weekend is the first big step in the recruiting process.
The visiting recruits will receive an academic presentation, a tour of the weight room and athletic facilities, a photoshoot with UK equipment and three tickets to the basketball game vs. Missouri at Rupp Arena.
The following list is most certainly incomplete, but it paints a picture where Kentucky is recruiting and what type of player they’re looking for, starting with quarterbacks.
Kentucky can only rely on the JUCO route for so long at quarterback. They must return to the high school ranks and land at least one in the upcoming class.
Hayden Wolff — Darin Hinshaw spotted Wolff early in the recruiting process. The Cats are the early favorite for the Englewood, Florida pocket-passer.
Paul Tyson — This will not be the first time Bear Bryant’s Grandson has visited Kentucky. The No. 7 pocket-passer and No. 223 player overall in the 2019 class, UK’s early offer put the Cats in a good position for the four-star prospect. The biggest thing in UK’s way — Tyson now has an Alabama offer.
Nik Scalzo — A 6-foot tall running quarterback from Ft. Lauderdale, his size has kept most big schools away. He has an offer from Illinois as Kentucky takes a closer look at the dual-threat quarterback.
Travis Mumphrey — The other dual-threat quarterback on campus this weekend hails from Louisiana. Considered a three-star prospect and the No. 23 dual-threat in the country, he picked up an offer from the Vols this week and will head to Knoxville after his UK visit.
Michael Smith has been extremely busy during his first few weeks on Kentucky’s staff. After extending a dozen or so offers, the new wide receivers coach convinced a few from The Pelican State to attend Junior Day.
Donald Clay — A three-star defensive back from New Orleans, Clay has almost 20 offers, most notably Arkansas, Arizona State and Kentucky.
Kash Foley — The unranked wide receiver picked up a UK offer last week.
Ahmad Bradley — A 6’2 325-pound offensive guard, he protects quarterback Travis Mumphrey at John Ehret High School in Marrero.
Chad Alexander — The shifty New Orleans running back is only 5’5, but is big enough to catch Smith’s eye.
Yes, Kentucky is recruiting in Missouri now. Where this came from, I don’t know, but it appears Kentucky will be setting up shop in St. Louis and the surrounding areas for the foreseeable future.
Shammond Cooper — A four-star inside linebacker that is considered one of the Top 250 players in the 2019 class will bring a large contingency from St. Louis’ Trinity Catholic High School with him to UK. Oklahoma is the early leader for Cooper, but Clemson and Notre Dame are also in the mix.
C.J. Boone — The 6’3 wide receiver from St. Louis also has a scholarship offer from Missouri.
Conrad Rowley — The 6’4 interior offensive lineman is being pursued by Northwestern, Minnesota and Kansas.
Steve Clinkscale has already hosted a few talented kids from Michigan this spring. This weekend he’s bringing more in from The Great Lakes State.
Michael Fletcher — Considered one of the 25 best defensive ends in the 2019 class, the four-star prospect hails from Flint, Michigan. Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are currently the favorite in his recruitment, but Fletcher plans on visiting Georgia next week after recently picking up an offer from Kirby Smart.
Jalen Graham — The three-star athlete hails from early enrollee DeAndre Square’s alma mater, Cass Tech.
Spencer Holstege — A 6’5″ 260-pound offensive tackle from Grand Rapids, Holstege does not yet have a UK scholarship offer.
Josh DeBerry — Kentucky was the first SEC school to offer the three-star cornerback from Warren, Michigan.
Other Top Prospects
Everybody else that didn’t fall in an easy category you will find below.
Moses Douglass — A four-star safety from Springfield, Ohio, he’s coached by his Dad, former Kentucky Wildcat safety and 11-year NFL veteran Moe Douglass. One of the Top 300 players in his class, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Michigan are all in on Douglass.
Jashon Watkins — A four-star athlete from East Nashville, Tennessee, Kentucky was just the second school to offer Watkins. He now holds offers from Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina and others.
Richie Hagarty — Hagarty is a 6’3, 215-pound outside linebacker from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. He’s received some early interest from Notre Dame.
Jammie Robinson — The four-star athlete from Crisp County, Georgia already holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, Michigan, and of course, Kentucky.
Paris Johnson Jr. — Junior Day isn’t just for Juniors. The 6’7 offensive tackle from Cincinnati St. X is considered the No. 116 player in the 2020 recruiting class by 247 Sports. Ohio State has extended the early offer. Notre Dame, Auburn, Tennessee Michigan State have also offered Johnson. He received an offer from Kentucky earlier this week.
By Nick Roush on ©February 14th, 2018 @ 1:00pm
When Mark Stoops added Michael Smith and Brad White to the Kentucky football staff, they brought new recruiting territories to the table. The two have already reached out to four-star prospects after just two weeks.
White hails from Rhode Island, a state that produces few Division I football recruits. Stoops was hesitant to say how much UK would invest in the small Northeastern state. When White was asked if UK should expect to get every top recruit from the state, he responded:
“I wish. We’ll see,” White said. “There’s not many players that come out of the state, but I am really looking forward to getting there and into that mid-Atlantic area because we’ve had a lot of good players from New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Maryland. So we’ll hit the ground running there and see if we can get some more.”
Yesterday White hit the ground running at his alma mater by offering the best player in the state of Rhode Island, four-star offensive tackle Xavier Truss. The 6’7″ 325-pound offensive lineman holds offers from Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Alabama.
Two of White’s premier pass-rushers are from the Mid-Atlantic area, Josh Allen and Josh Paschal. White will chip in to help Marrow recruit one of Paschal’s former Good Counsel teammates, 3-star 2019 wide receiver Cam Hart.
Smith’s ties are to a state that consistently produces top football recruits, Louisiana. He’s wasted no time reaching out to a ton elite wide receivers from The Pelican State. The following five recruits from the 2019 class have received scholarship offers from UK since Smith’s introductory press conference:
- Jacob Bernard — No relation to Andy Bernard, UK is the first SEC offer for the 5-11 WR.
- Kash Foley — Foley has received a few D-I offers, but UK is the biggest name on the WR’s list.
- Christian Harris — The four-star WR/CB from Baton Rouge is considered a Top 100 player and the #7 athlete in the country.
- Quinton Torbor — A 6’2″ four-star slot receiver from Destrehen, La., he’ll be on of the best 300 players in the nation before he makes a college decision.
- Devonta Lee — The 6-2 athlete is a Top 50 prospect and the #7 WR in America.
The top three targets — Harris, Torbor and Lee — are all projected by the Crystal Ball to end up at LSU. Smith did not reveal much of his pitch to lure players out of the state.
“It’s the brand. I think what a lot of people don’t understand about a lot of kids from Louisiana is that they are willing to leave the state. The fact that Kentucky is a SEC football program, I think we’re in the best conference in college football…The SEC is the SEC and I think that’s a big sell for a lot of kids not only in Louisiana, but everybody.”
Smith and White may not be able to get the best of the best from their respective territories, but it only takes one commitment to give Kentucky momentum in an uncharted part of the country.
By KSR on ©February 08th, 2018 @ 3:45pm
The Depth Chart Podcast returns to recap an excellent National Signing Day for the Kentucky Wildcats. This year’s class is ranked No. 37. Freddie will help you understand how the Cats slightly dipped in the recruiting rankings and why you shouldn’t be worried. You’ll also hear the NSD from a high school coach’s perspective when Scott County’s Jim McKee joins the program. Highlights:
— The significance of the Early Signing Period and stealing on from Ohio State.
— Who will be able to make an immediate impact?
— How high school coaches are involved in the recruiting process.
— Why kids should play as many sports as they want to in high school.
— UK signed zero instate kids; is it an anomaly or cause for concern?
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to Kentucky Sports Radio on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
1. The Best Possible Finish
When Mark Stoops came to Kentucky, he brought a large spotlight to National Signing Day. The theatrics have never disappointed the BBN, but if there’s a surprise, it’s usually a bad one. The last time fans were treated to more than one surprise addition on National Signing Day, Jason Hatcher and Ryan Timmons pledged to play for their home-state school just months after Stoops was hired.
This year Kentucky convinced Chris Oats, a long-time Ohio State recruit, to turn down the Buckeyes and play for UK. It’s difficult to make a bigger splash on the recruiting scene. The Cats also filled a vacancy in the running back room. If Kentucky didn’t get Kavosiey Smoke, the offense would be in trouble in 2019. The Cats accomplished all of their National Signing Day goals.
2. All Hail the Early Signing Period
We knew the Early Signing Period would benefit Kentucky, but we didn’t know it would help this much.
Locking up 20 recruits obviously kept the traditional powerhouses from swooping in at the last-minute to steal some of the Cats’ best recruits. The addition of Chris Oats was an unintended consequence in this process. Vince Marrow said yesterday he would not have been able to devote the time and resources to Oats without the early signing period.
“I think us signing them guys and having 20 guys secure really played in factor in me going full bore on Chris Oats, because when you’re trying to get that type of kid, it’s a constant,” Marrow said. “You gotta recruit that kid everyday. If we didn’t have the early signing period, we probably would’ve been battling Ohio State for two more guys that we have that’s already locked in. I really like it. You got most of your class signed and then you can focus on four or five guys, I’ll take that anytime.”
Replicating this kind of success in the early signing period will not be as easy now that other schools have seen how things shake out, but you’ve gotta commend Marrow and Stoops for immediately finding the right formula.
3. Denzil Ware has Returned to Team Activities
When Jordan Jones and Denzil Ware announced they would return for one more season in the Bluegrass, it was safe to say they were in good standing with the team. Mark Stoops confirmed they are participating in team activities, but there are still some requirements they must meet to be able to play for Kentucky this fall.
4. Vince Marrow’s Hands are Ginormous
Even Andre the Giant would be impressed.
5. Expanding Territory
The addition of Michael Smith has given Kentucky a new recruiting option, Louisiana. Smith’s recruiting specialty was also the specialty of a former assistant, Bradley Dale Peveto. At the time, Stoops didn’t want to overstretch Kentucky’s resources. With an additional assistant and established success in Ohio, Vince Marrow said Kentucky will aggressively recruit new areas.
“We are still going to stay in a six-hour radius but also do some spot recruiting.” Marrow said Brad White will also do a little work around New Jersey and Rhode Island. “It’s just a platform that we keep going forward. We are going to Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, of course we’re going to recruit Florida.”
6. Be Patient with the 2018 Class
For the first time since Stoops became the head coach, UK’s strength is their experience. Loaded with upperclassmen, ninety percent of the defensive production is returning. The numbers aren’t quite as significant on offense, but most of the big pieces are back.
With a ton of experienced talent, Kentucky didn’t need to find players prepared to immediately perform. They plugged all of the necessary holes and will redshirt the rest of the recruits.
Kentucky only has one nose, Quinton Bohanna, on the roster, so they got the best player from Michigan and the highest-ranked player in the class to provide relief. The Cats lost their punter, kicker (the school’s all-time leading scorer) and quarterback. They will be replaced by the Australia’s best kicker, the No. 1 kicker in the continental U.S. and the nation’s No. 1 JUCO dual-threat quarterback. Not too shabby.
The other stars in the class — offensive tackle Darian Kinnard, tight end Brenden Bates, Oats — all have the talent and potential to become stars; they just don’t need to be stars right now. Hindsight will eventually see the 2018 class as one of Stoops’ best.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 07th, 2018 @ 4:45pm
Recruiting Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach, Vince Marrow
On being from Ohio and recruiting against Ohio State …
“You see me smiling? I recruited Chris (Oats) since he was a freshman. I think there are times they came in on kids late that are here now, but this was a kid that they’ve targeted since he was a sophomore. Beating them on this kid speaks volumes of what we were able to do. A lot of these other kids in 2019, it is a big recruiting class for Ohio next year. I’ve being getting a lot of DM’s (direct messages) already from kids and they’re like, ‘wow’, because up until last week everybody thought Chris was going to Ohio State. And, I kind of knew where he was going, just kept it to myself. But, until he signed the paper, I was nervous all the way to last night. It was huge getting him.”
On pinpointing Chris early and being able to keep him …
“Like I have told you guys before, our logo is probably the second-most dominating logo right now when you talk about recruiting in Ohio. So, when Ohio State came in, you always were nervous like are they going to offer this kid? They (Ohio kids) get a lot of Big 10 offers, but that Ohio State offer, every kid in that state just like in Kentucky, they want to play for their state school. This goes up a notch because like I said again, I know they recruited this kid from day one. This kid is a really good football player. A lot of high school coaches called me last night and were saying you guys got a really good one. This is definitely going to boost us in Ohio for next year. I really do believe that.”
On where Chris will play …
“He reminds me of the kid that was at Mississippi State. We went against them and I remember Coach Stoops saying that he has a lot of length. I remember that kid (Benardrick McKinney) was about 6-foot-4, Chris is a legit 6-4 or 6-5. He is very twitchy, can bend, he is going to play inside. He can play Mike or Will, but he is so long that you can put him on the outside as a pass-rusher because he can run. I know right now Coach House is really excited about him playing inside or outside.”
On recruiting in Michigan …
“Yeah, you talk about getting top guys out of Ohio but now we are getting players out of Michigan. Getting those two players out of Michigan was huge. You got the No. 1 and No. 3 or 4 player in the state. And, that’s a school if you get locked in at that school, it’s like some of the bigger schools in Ohio. You get in that school, and Coach Clinkscale is doing a good job with his relationships with the coaches there. And, they are loaded there for the next couple of years too. So, it just a platform that we keep going forward. We are going to Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, of course we’re going to recruit Florida. Coach Brad White, our new linebackers coach, he’s going to New Jersey, he is from Rhode Island, hopefully he does some recruiting there. We are still going to stay in a six-hour radius but also do some spot recruiting.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 07th, 2018 @ 4:30pm
Glad to announce the addition of four more recruits that came in today. Allen Daily, a wide receiver from Alabama, Nick Lewis, an offensive tackle from Jacksonville, Chris Oats, a linebacker from Cincinnati and Kavosiey Smoke another running back from Alabama. You guys all smile with that. That will be fun to say (laughter). Let’s hope he scores a lot of touchdowns. Great guy.
You’ve heard me talk about it before. I think the nucleus of our class was signed in December. I think that was very good for us. It was very good for the University of Kentucky. I also think it was very important. It was a great day today. As I’ve mentioned, learned from Jimbo (Fisher) a long time ago, it’s really important to recruit a solid class top to bottom. But, the last two, three, four guys are absolutely critical.
I really feel like we hit a home run with the guys we signed today. Excited about this class. With these four guys here, it puts a really solid class together with 24 players in total. That’s a perfect number for us. I felt like we hit the number right on the spot.
We signed 13 offensive players, which we needed, nine defensive players and two specialists. It really is a complete class. I feel very good about it. It worked out really well.
I appreciate the efforts of our assistant coaches. They worked tirelessly around the clock for years sometimes to recruit these guys. It paid dividends here with this recruiting class.
It’s kind of nice, the early signing period, we had talked back in December, I think it was very good for us. Had a chance to kind of hit the reset button after the December signing period to see exactly what we needed for this February signing day, and hit the spots. That worked out very well for us. I also think it helped us get a jump, gave me an opportunity to go out and look at juniors, get in front of people, hit a lot of different places because in the spring, head coaches are not allowed on the road. Just moved the calendar up a touch. Made for a very busy December, but it made for a better January for us. Overall, I’m very excited about it.
Also, this is the first time I got in front of you. I’ll answer any questions about our new assistant coaches, Brad White and Michael Smith, as well.
Q. Ohio State has been able to come in and take some of those in-state guys. What was different about Chris’ (Oats) recruitment?
MARK STOOPS: Coach Marrow really did a good job, Coach House, all of our defensive guys, they all went up, made one last pitch a week ago Saturday. Watched his basketball game, got in front of him. The guys worked hard building relationships. I think Chris felt comfortable with Coach Marrow, with our staff, what we’re doing down here. I think that made the difference this year.”
Q. How rare is it to hire a guy (Brad White) you didn’t really know?
MARK STOOPS: It is rare. There are some guys in the Colts organization, that were in the Colts organization, that I have great respect for. Coach Pagano, what he says really matters. Rob Chudzinski, their offensive coordinator, and I go way back. As far as what type of person you’re getting, I had no questions there.
Then when we bring him in, go through the interview process, he really impressed me quite a bit. I knew halfway through that interview that I wanted to wrap it up and get recruiting him to take the job because he was having some other opportunities. I wanted to lock him up.”
Q. Coach (Michael) Smith has had a lot of experience recruiting Louisiana. Is that somewhere you think you can exploit?
MARK STOOPS: Definitely going to let him explore that, yes. I was a little hesitant early in the process. You remember back when we had Coach Peveto here, he had some connections there, as well. We were close on some things.
But I just felt like at that point we were a little bit too far stretched. I wanted to isolate, concentrate on the areas we have. We let Coach Clink expand a little bit to Detroit, it’s paid some dividends. We’ll let him expand a little bit into Louisiana, yes.
Q. Is it fair next year to assume anyone who doesn’t sign in December is open game?
MARK STOOPS: Without a doubt, yes. That’s the way we looked at it the whole time. That’s why we didn’t miss a beat.
Q. Does moving Dean Hood to the secondary strengthen the defensive staff
MARK STOOPS: I think it will help us overall. Number one, I think what was very intriguing to me is Brad being such a technician, I really feel like we have some NFL outside linebackers. Bringing him in to coach those guys, to take them to another level, we all know what kind of coach Dean Hood is, a great coach, but most of his experience is in the back end. It will give Dean time to concentrate on special teams and work in the back end with Coach Clinkscale.
I wanted to improve and get some help in the secondary. Again, I really feel very excited because you’ve heard me talk for years about the nuances of coaching that position, coaching outside linebackers because There’s a lot on their plate.
We need them to be elite pass-rushers, we need them to be run stoppers, but they also have to play in space and have drops and a guy with that kind of experience makes a lot of sense to me.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 07th, 2018 @ 2:55pm
National Signing Day announcements are supposed to be fun, but this one is just awkward and sad. Four-star wide receiver Jacob Copeland just picked Florida over Alabama and Tennessee, upsetting his mother so much she picked up her purse and walked out on live television.
Video of 4* WR Jacob Copeland committing to Florida, his mother wearing rival gear walking off live on ESPN pic.twitter.com/uZcXO2fO0w
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) February 7, 2018
That is heartbreaking. Thankfully, momma came back:
Mom came back… pic.twitter.com/VNKrVdDiue
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) February 7, 2018
By Nick Roush on ©February 07th, 2018 @ 2:30pm
Kentucky’s 2016 recruiting class was highlighted by three homegrown All-Americans — Kash Daniel, Landon Young and Drake Jackson. Two years later, Kentucky does not have one single scholarship signee from the Commonwealth.
“I was disappointed in that. I’m not going to lie. I want in-state guys,” Mark Stoops said at today’s post-NSD presser conference. “There’s not always going to be an abundance of guys, but there always is good quality here. We have to make sure we get the quality players to stay home.”
This year abundance is a problem. Rondale Moore was targeted by Kentucky, but opted to play for Jeff Brohm’s passing attack at Purdue. Brohm lured four of Kentucky’s top ten 2018 recruits away from the state. Stoops vowed not to let that happen in 2019.
“We’re recruiting hard on the ’19s right now, out there beating the pavement, making sure we’re evaluating the right guys,” he said. “It does seem strong. Definitely reminds me of the class a few years back when Kash and those guys came out…There’s some impact players in this class.”
The Cats are currently in excellent position with Western Hills do-it-all running back Wandale Robinson. Kentucky was the first to offer elite Scott County offensive tackle Bryan Hudson, who is now being recruited by every school in America. Glasgow’s Tanner Bowles has always been a UK-lean as he’s climbed into the Top 300 of the national rankings. The Cats are also in the mix with three studs from Louisville: defensive end J.J. Weaver, defensive end Shawnkel Knight-Goff and a top-15 athlete, Milton Wright.
If there was ever a time to cash in on local talent, it’s 2019. Kentucky has used this spring to get in excellent position to do just that.
By Nick Roush on ©February 07th, 2018 @ 1:23pm
Kentucky beat a long-time Ohio State recruit for a four-star linebacker from Cincinnati on National Signing Day.
Let that sink in for a moment. That actually happened. Less than five years ago, Ohio State won a National Championship while Kentucky was just happy to win more than two games in a season. Now the Cats are stealing recruits from the Buckeyes?
“Everybody thought Chris was going to Ohio State,” said his primary recruiter, Vince Marrow.” “It was huge getting him.”
But how does that happen? Marrow saw his talent early, and has been relentless ever since.
“You see me smiling? I recruited Chris since he was a freshman, and that juggernaut up there at Ohio State, they do great there, Urban recruits very well,” he said. “This was truly a kid that they targeted since he was a sophomore. Beating them on this kid, it just says volumes.”
Kentucky’s influence on the Ohio recruiting scene has steadily been on the rise. The addition of Oats proves Kentucky is a serious player in one of the most-talent rich states in the nation.
“Our logo right now is probably the second-most dominant logo in recruiting in Ohio,” Marrow said at today’s post-NSD news conference. Unlike previous years, that logo was enough for UK to win out against the kid’s favorite childhood team.
“It’s just when Ohio State came in [in the past], you’re always nervous like, ‘Are they going to come offer this kid?’ They had a lot of Big Ten offers, but when you get that Ohio State offer, every kid in that state wants to play for their state school. This goes up a notch because I know they recruited this kid from Day One.”
As usual, Marrow used the SEC to initially appeal to Oats. The Cats stayed in the game until the game changed. This year was the first year for the college football early signing period. After the Cats locked up 20 signees, it allowed Marrow to dedicate time and resources to Oats that would not have otherwise been available.
“I think us signing them guys and having 20 guys secure really played in factor in me going full bore on Chris Oats, because when you’re trying to get that type of kid, it’s a constant. You gotta recruit that kid everyday. If we didn’t have the early signing period, we probably would’ve been battling Ohio State for two more guys that we have that’s already locked in. I really like it. You got most of your class signed and then you can focus on four or five guys, I’ll take that anytime.”
Marrow used that opportunity to put on a full court press at Oats’ basketball game.
“I took the whole defensive staff and we went and seen Chris and we watched his basketball game and we did an in-home visit. I think that was the turning point. Even though he was still back-and-forth, I think he seen, ‘Wow. I’m really a priority for these guys.'”
Oats was at the top of UK’s recruiting big board for a reason. A four-star talent from Winton Woods High School, he is considered one of the 20 best outside linebackers in the country.
“Chris is a legit 6’5, he’s very twitchy, can bend, so he’s gonna play inside,” Marrow said. He can play Mike or Will, but he’s so long that you can even put him on the outside as a pass rusher because he can run. I know right now (Matt) House is very excited about him.”
It’s safe to say the entire Big Blue Nation is very excited to see the Oats at Kentucky, not Ohio State.