Football Recruiting News
By Nick Roush on ©October 19th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
One of the state’s most talented uncommitted prospects will take his final official visit this weekend with a trip to Kentucky.
Four-star edge rusher J.J. Weaver will make the short drive from Louisville to watch the Cats take on Vanderbilt. Weaver is no stranger to Kroger Field. In his most recent unofficial visit, the pass rusher watched Josh Allen dominate Mississippi State.
The timing of the visit works well for Kentucky. UK gets the final pitch before he makes his decision in two weeks. A Broward County, Florida native, Miami is UK’s toughest competition. UofL, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Purdue are also finalists, but the Cats are in the driver’s seat and could close the deal this weekend.
If Vince Marrow can seal the deal, Weaver will be a game-changer. Take a look for yourself.
Weaver will not be the only recruit on campus. There will be a number of underclassmen in attendance and a 2019 commit, DeMarcus Harris. The wide receiver is making the trip from Florida for an unofficial visit. He’s already posted some outstanding numbers this season — 1,142 yards and 11 receiving touchdowns. See some of Harris’ best work here.
Kentucky recruit, Wandale Robinson, is no stranger to the highlight reel and on Friday night he added to his extensive collection of impressive plays.
Watch as the Western Hills star spins out of two tackles and seemingly evades all other 21 people on the field.
— Overtime (@overtime) October 13, 2018
In a 42-32 victory over Garrard County, Robison had a stat line of 288 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, a 35-yard touchdown pass, 16 tackles, five tackles for loss, one forced fumble & a sack. Sheesh.
Wandale Robinson will announce his commitment on November 1st, in honor of his late cousin. He will pick between Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio State, Nebraska, Purdue, and Michigan.
Nik Scalzo has quite a bit in common with the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner.
Baker Mayfield set records as a high school quarterback. The UK quarterback commit already has no shortage of school passing records. Mayfield did not have a lengthy scholarship offer sheet. Scalzo was primarily recruited by the Ivy League. Each were over-looked because of their height.
“We’ve both been told our whole lives that we can’t do it,” Scalzo told KSR. “He had to walk-on at two schools and now he’s the No. 1 overall draft pick.”
There was one person who always thought Scalzo could be an elite college football quarterback, Eddie Gran. Scalzo does not plan on disappointing Kentucky’s offensive coordinator.
“A Chihuahua that thinks he’s a Rottweiler”
Cardinal Gibbons head coach Matt DuBuc describes Scalzo as a competitor. Like many of Mark Stoops’ best players, he plays with a chip on his shoulder, one he developed at a young age.
“He’s got that built-in chip on his shoulder,” said his father, Jerry. “He’s like that Chihuahua that thinks he’s a Rottweiler. Seriously, I never see him flinch. That’s the beautiful part about it. The moment’s never too big for him.”
Scalzo is no stranger to big opportunities. In the 8th grade National Championships, the 7th-grader had to lead his team 80 yards to the end zone in less than a minute to get a chance to play in the title game. His team left the tournament with a national championship trophy.
“He’s made play after play after play,” said DuBuc. Scalzo has made plays for Cardinal Gibbons and in 7-on-7 tournaments. Last summer he brought home another national championship, this time for the South Florida Express in the Adidas National Championships. The top performer in the Florida regional Elite 11 camp, he did not get invited to The Opening because he’s only six-feet tall.
“For him it’s always been that. You’re too short. You’re not fast enough. You don’t have a strong enough arm,” his father recalled.
As outsiders doubted Scalzo’s ability, he never did.
“You put the work in, you did what you’re supposed to do and you can have a great story. Keep doing what you do,” Jerry Scalzo told his son.
The shots at his height don’t bother Scalzo anymore.
“All through little league and freshman football, I’ve always been the smallest quarterback, so I just got used to it and grew with it,” Nik said. “All the height stuff, that’s overlooked in my opinion because if you’re a player, you’re a player. It doesn’t matter how tall you are. If you’re going to make the plays, you’re going to make the plays.”
Style Inside and Outside of the Pocket
Making plays is not a problem for Nik Scalzo. He has a knack for making them in the most miraculous ways possible.
Defined by scouting services as a dual-threat quarterback, there’s no denying he’s an exceptional athlete. However, that tag usually means the quarterback makes his money with rushing yards. Instead of using his legs to get downfield, he uses them to create more time for his receivers to get open.
During a game against Dillard High School, Gibbons was backed up deep in their own territory. The blitz got to Scalzo immediately. Instead of panicking, he spun away from a defender. Scrambling left, two defensive linemen were waiting for him. He stopped, jumped, took a hit and released the ball for a first down.
If that doesn’t articulate his play well enough, this should:
— Nik Scalzo (@NikScalzo) May 26, 2018
What helps keep Scalzo from panicking is between the ears. He was recruited by Ivy League schools for a reason.
“He’s a very smart kid,” his father said. “He’s one of those kids who’s extremely athletic, but he’s very cerebral. He’s got a 4.9 GPA. He’s one of those kids that’s very, very cerebral. He’s playing chess out there.”
He prefers to use his athleticism to evade defenders before making a pass, but he’s wise enough to know when to run. Once he takes off down the field, he kicks into a new gear. Scalzo has one skill few have: he can do a standing backflip. One of his favorite things to do off the field is flip off bridges into waterways. That has use on a football field.
— Nik Scalzo (@NikScalzo) September 22, 2018
Flipping is kind of a Scalzo family thing. His younger sister is a gymnast who committed to Arkansas prior to her junior year. Jerry Scalzo refused to reveal who he thinks is his most athletic child, but Nik did not bat an eye when the question was asked.
“Her. She’s In the gym like eight hours a day. It’s insane.”
Scalzo has quite a few Kentucky connections. Before B.J. Alexander and Akeem Hayes were Kentucky Wildcats, they caught passes from Scalzo in youth football leagues. He made them look good, but he made UK freshman safety Stanley Garner look bad when he dove over Garner into the end zone last year. However, Scalzo felt a connection to Kentucky long before his peers went to Lexington.
“The first time I met him I knew that’s someone I wanted to play for.”
The short quarterback was even shorter when Eddie Gran first saw Scalzo play as a high school freshman. The UK offensive coordinator needed to see more from Scalzo before offering him a scholarship. He showed improvements at a 2017 summer camp. Scalzo was in Lexington for this year’s Junior Day and the Spring Game. Shortly after receiving a scholarship offer, Scalzo committed.
“I didn’t commit there just because it was my only SEC school (to offer). I actually believe that I can play there. It’s just a matter of time.”
In his four years of high school football, he’s already accomplished quite a bit. Scalzo has almost every school record for passing, most recently surpassing the single-game passing touchdown record with six. Last night he led Gibbons to a 24-14 victory over national powerhouse American Heritage. Throwing against future SEC defensive backs, Scalzo dropped dimes to snap an 11-game losing streak against Heritage.
— Marcus Benjamin (@_BenjaminMoney) October 13, 2018
Scalzo has checked many boxes on his list of goals and he’s met his football hero, Baker Mayfield.
“He’s my favorite player ever. I would consider myself the same play-style as him. I’m not as cocky as him, but we have the same mentality because we’re both short quarterbacks. We’ve both been told our whole lives that we can’t do it.”
Scalzo has been told his life he can’t be an elite college football quarterback. He plans on doing just that at the University of Kentucky.
By Maggie Davis on ©October 13th, 2018 @ 4:30pm
Mark Stoops and the rest of his staff have officially extended a scholarship offer to Kentucky’s own Reese Smith. The wide receiver, who is listed as 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, currently plays for Boyle County High School in Danville. He’s set to graduate in 2020.
As a junior, his numbers are already impressive: 27 catches for 536 yards and five touchdowns so far this season. 24/7 Sports has Smith listed as a three-star recruit and the No. 10 recruit in Kentucky. He’s already received offers from Tennessee, Cincinnati and Troy, among others. Check out some of his sophomore-season highlights here:
BBN, show the man some love on Twitter:
— Reese Smith (@reesesmith_) October 13, 2018
Kentucky fans love a Kentucky boy… just ask Kash Daniel. Reese Smith, come on down.
A week after receiving an offer from Ohio State, one Kentucky commit will visit UK’s campus for the first time.
Defensive tackle Cavon Butler told 247 Sports that he will make the trip from Toledo to Lexington this weekend. Butler’s first visit to UK comes more than two months after he verbally committed.
“I’m still fully committed to Kentucky, and I’m going to be visiting there for the first time this weekend,” Butler said. “I talk to the coaches almost every day, and they are really good people at Kentucky. I’m 100% committed there, and this week’s visit might be an official but we are still talking about that.”
The lead recruited for Butler is Vince Marrow. Butler still has official visits planned to Michigan State and Ohio State. He’ll be in Columbus when the Buckeyes host Michigan.
One of the best football players from the state of Kentucky will play college football outside of the Commonwealth. Four-star Louisville Ballard linebacker Jared Casey announced he will attend the University of Oregon.
— Jar?d Çasey? (@jared_casey01) October 11, 2018
A top 300 player nationally, Casey is considered the No. 18 inside linebacker in the country, although he’ll likely play on the edge at the next level.
Casey’s path to recruiting stardom is one rarely used. He flew under the radar as an unheralded recruit hampered by injuries, until he earned linebacker MVP honors at a Nashville Rivals camp. Days later Oregon offered him a scholarship, narrowly beating Vince Marrow to the punch.
The Commonwealth has eight four-star prospects in the 2019 recruiting class. Five have now committed to programs outside of the state. As we learned earlier today, Marrow and Mark Stoops are in an excellent position to land the final three, as well as another talented linebacker from Louisville, Shawnkel Knight-Goff.
The final uncommitted prospects in the state of Kentucky’s talented 2019 recruiting class will soon be making their decisions, beginning tonight with four-star linebacker Jared Casey.
To get a better feel for where UK stands with in-state recruits, I spoke to Dave Lackford on this morning’s Kentucky Roll Call. Nobody is closer to the in-state recruits than the Rivals writer. He was kind enough to tell us where UK stands before they make their final decisions.
The centerpiece for each player’s recruitment is Vince Marrow. Once The Big Dog hit the trail around the Commonwealth this spring, things changed.
“The Cats weren’t really mentioned that much when I talked to these guys about who they were looking at in their top five or six. I just started seeing Vince pop up at high school games and I thought to myself, ‘That’s odd.’ Then out of nowhere they started moving up on people’s lists. Right now they’re in play for all the guys.”
Louisville used to be Kentucky’s toughest competition within the state. Halfway through the season, that’s no longer the case.
“It looks like Louisville isn’t going to get anybody. It’s swung momentum tremendously,” Lackford said. “They’re (UK) already winning in my opinion.”
Lackford would not reveal whether or not Casey would pick Kentucky tonight, but one thing is certain.
“Louisville was never in consideration for Jared.” Lackford said Casey told him early on, “I’m not going to Louisville. I’m getting out of here.”
Lackford believes Kentucky will probably get another commitment from the city of Louisville, Shawnkel Knight-Goff. The versatile athlete has flown under the radar during the season, but the one-time UK commit will be an exceptional addition to UK’s 2019 class.
Last weekend J.J. Weaver took an official visit to Miami. Raised in nearby Broward County, Miami is Kentucky’s toughest competition, although Weaver said early in the recruiting process he does not want to play college football far from his mother in Louisville. The Louisville Moore edge rusher will officially visit UK later this month before announcing on November 3.
Milton Wright is undoubtedly the most mysterious recruit. He has not taken any official visits, but one scheduled official to Alabama was postponed. Wright plans on deciding before the December signing period and Lackford believes it’s essentially down to Kentucky, Louisville and Purdue.
The most intriguing prospect for fans left on the recruiting board is Western Hills’ Wandale Robinson. Lackford likened his game to future Freshman All-American Rondale Moore. He explained the most attractive part of Kentucky’s pitch.
“For him it’s about being able to establish his brand in Lexington, be the man in Kentucky and kind of branch out when he’s done with football. I think that’s the key thing for Kentucky.”
Check out the entire interview below around the 3:00-minute mark to hear about potential 2020 in-state targets and much more. I also wouldn’t mind if you listened to the show each morning before KSR from 8:00-10:00 a.m. and subscribed to the podcast.
Wandale Robinson’s recruitment is coming to a close.
The four-star recruit and Kentucky Mr. Football favorite from Frankfort revealed on Twitter he will announce his college decision November 1.
Robinson used his final official visit this weekend at Ohio State. The week prior he was in Lexington to watch the Cats and the Gamecocks on an unofficial visit. Alabama, Michigan, Purdue and Nebraska are the other four finalists.
Robinson recently told Ben Roberts the Cornhuskers are his leader. The 247 Crystal Ball gives Ohio State a 67 percent advantage over the competition. Kentucky had the early advantage in his recruitment, until he blew up on the summer camp circuit. Despite the emergence of traditional powerhouses, it would not be a shock if Vince Marrow convinced Robinson to rock a Kentucky blue hat on November 1.
By Nick Roush on ©October 08th, 2018 @ 4:00pm
It’s October, which means Ohio State is trying to steal a Kentucky football commit. It’s a tradition unlike any other.
Saturday night Toledo Whitmer three-star defensive tackle Cavon Butler took an unofficial visit to Ohio State. He left Columbus with a scholarship offer.
On August 9, Butler was the first interior defensive lineman to commit to the Cats 2019 class. Recruited by Vince Marrow, Butler will officially visit Kentucky later this fall. He also has official visits planned at Michigan State and now Ohio State. He’ll be in attendance when the Buckeyes play Michigan at the shoe.
“I’m just going to finish out the semester strong and worry about finishing my high school season and having fun, then have my decision close to signing day,” Butler told 247 Sports.
Vince Marrow’s been down this road before. He’s won some big battles vs. Ohio State near signing day, like Chris Oats, but he hasn’t won them all. Time will tell if Marrow can hold onto a commitment from the nation’s No. 57 defensive tackle who is from the Big Dog’s old stomping grounds.
By Nick Roush on ©October 06th, 2018 @ 1:00pm
Another Friday night, another unbelievable performance by Wandale Robinson. This time it came against another top in-state recruit, junior quarterback Beau Allen.
As usual, Robinson’s numbers were incredible. He rushed for more than 200 yards and 4 touchdowns and caught five passes for 35 yards. This juke was surprisingly not his best play of the night.
— Overtime (@overtime) October 6, 2018
The four-star prospect’s best play of the night came on defense. One of his 14 tackles and three forced fumbles came on this 98-yard Pick Six.
— Keith Farmer (@KeithFarmer18) October 6, 2018
Robinson’s Western Hills ultimately lost to Lexington Catholic 49-42. Catholic quarterback Beau Allen completed 16-of-21 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. Allen rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns on only ten carries. After the game, Robinson and Allen posed for a picture. Robinson gave it an interesting caption.
UK has recruited each player for quite some time. There’s a long way to go in Allen’s recruitment, but Robinson’s decision could happen anytime after he completes this weekend’s official visit to Ohio State.