(Photo © Kim Klement) For about five minutes, it looked possible. Kentucky came to life →
Football Recruiting News
247Sports national recruiting analyst Steve Wiltfong dropped some major scoop on CatsPause.com about where Kentucky stands with a Top 100 overall prospect in the 2015 class and one of the highest-rated running backs in the country.
For more on this new development, check out CatsPause.com’s House of Blue.
Everyone remembers Craig Yeast.
At the time he graduated from Kentucky, he was the SEC’s all-time leader in receptions (208) and second in all-time receiving yards (2,899) and along with Tim Couch, helped the Wildcats reach its first New Year’s Day bowl game in 47 years.
Now, his son, Craig Yeast II, is starting to make a name for himself and Kentucky has taken early notice.
For more on Yeast 2.0, go to CatsPause.com
2015 four-star cornerback Montrell Custis committed to Kentucky over Georgia, Clemson, Auburn, Tennessee and others back in November, and since, has picked up even more offers from major schools. The biggest one of all may have come yesterday when Alabama extended an offer to Custis. While an offer from Nick Saban is huge, Custis told The Cats Pause’s Josh Edwards he’s “still UK”:
“I was excited to hear from Coach Nick Saban and of course I was excited about the offer. I’m still UK. I’m just very excited. I’m just taking it all in right now.”
Custis came to UK’s Junior Day and loved it so much he didn’t want to leave, so let’s hope he holds on to that loving feeling:
With College Gameday in town and a top five Florida team in the visitor’s locker room, February 15th was a big enough day in Lexington. The perfect atmosphere to impress twenty of the nation’s top high school football players, which is exactly why Mark Stoops and company chose that day to be the program’s Junior Day. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples was on hand, and said that the royal treatment the juniors–especially Damien Harris–received was proof that Stoops has the Big Blue Nation believing in football:
It was into this Big Blue spectacle that Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops led a group of high school juniors wearing letter jackets from schools across the eastern half of the country. The prep stars tried their damnedest to appear cool as they waded through the throng toward their seats, but most couldn’t stop themselves from staring slack-jawed at the madness all around them. Many college football coaches prefer to build Junior Days around big basketball games because they tend to energize a school. With the Wildcats playing Florida and the nation watching on Feb. 15, Stoops knew he could wow his top targets in the class of 2015. He personally escorted Damien Harris, a five-star tailback from Berea, Ky., who earlier in the week had been personally escorted by Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to watch Michigan play the Buckeyes in Columbus. As Stoops and Harris climbed the stairs, they stopped every few feet to reciprocate high-fives from fans who, thanks to Stoops, celebrated National Signing Day in February — not the one in November reserved for Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari’s annual haul of McDonald’s All-Americans — for the first time since quarterback Tim Couch faxed his letter of intent to the Wildcats in 1996.
Staples says Stoops is laying all the groundwork for Kentucky to become a respected program, comparing his process to the one Steve Spurrier used in South Carolina. He also does what several national writers have failed to when writing about the Kentucky football program: dispels the myth that UK fans don’t care about football: “While they do care about basketball as much as Alabama fans care about football, they also have been quite faithful to the football team — even though the team has given them few rewards for their fidelity.”
Truth. And that’s why what’s happening now is so exciting. Go check out Staples’ piece over at SportsIllustrated.com.
It has been nearly a month since the University of Kentucky aired during the Super Bowl a commercial promoting Wildcats football, with the theme “Why Not?” Since the spectacular ad hit the airwaves fans, players, and even 5-star recruits have embraced the “Why Not” notion, rallying Stoops Troops to Pack Commonwealth and support the rebuilding program.
The excitement has outstretched the arms of the #BBN and carried-over to other areas in pop culture. Last week the popular internet dating website Match.com began playing commercials with women asking themselves, “Why not take charge and find a good guy to connect with on Match.com?” The snowball effect is rolling and people can’t stop:
“#WhyNot break me off a piece of that Kit-Kat bar?” – Kit-Kat Bars
“Here’s a Duck Dynasty branded fork. #WhyNot” – Wal-Mart
“#WhyNot spend 13-hours on Valentine’s Day watching TV?” – House of Cards
“24 beers in one sitting? #WhyNot” – Natural Light
“Time to bring back Jay. #WhyNot” -The Tonight Show
“You never know when you’ll need 27-feet of flowered fabric and a scarecrow family made out of pine cones. #WhyNot” – Michael’s
“T-shirts tucked into whitie-tighties are a thing of the past! #WhyNot” – Tony Siragusa for Depends
“Doron went to sleep. #WhyNot”
“Really 5th Olympic Ring? #WhyNot” – Vladmir Putin
“Whoever said 25 thirsty women going for one man is a bad thing? #WhyNot” – The Bachelor
“A loss on Senior Night? #CutTheNets #WhyNot” – Indiana Basketball
“Because movies which have actually been in theaters are overrated. #WhyNot” – Netflix
“THE TAGS ARE BACK! #WhyNot” – Hane’s
formerly tagless underwear.
“Beards. blunts, and tats. #WhyNot” – Louisville Basketball
One of Kentucky’s top targets in the 2015 class–Lagrange (Ohio) Keystone 4-star tight end C.J. Conrad–was on campus over the weekend and following his visit, didn’t hesitate to name the Wildcats his leader.
“”It went really well. I loved it there. It made me very comfortable with Kentucky,” Conrad told CatsPause.com Sunday. “They’re definitely my number one.”
Ranked as a top 10 tight end nationally by the 247Sports Composite, Conrad says UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown compared him favorably to former Texas Tech tight end and potential first round NFL Draft pick Jace Amaro.
For more recruiting coverage, check out CatsPause.com.
Follow Chris Fisher on Twitter @ChrisFisher247
UK bound 😎
— cj conrad (@cjconrad1) February 22, 2014
One of the nation’s top tight ends, highly rated Ohioan (that just looks weird,) C.J. Conrad, has UK at the top of his list, and is visiting Lexington for the first time this weekend.
According to the 247 composite, CJ is a 4 star and currently comes in at ninth at the position.
It’s a beautiful day in the Bluegrass. Come on down CJ.
“Who is the guy in this picture and why do I care if he’s wearing a UK sweatshirt?” you ask. Why, that’s five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, who’s considered the best strong-side defensive end and seventh best player in the 2015 class by 247Sports Composite.
The 6’2″ 250 lbs. Florida native has offers from all the big boys–Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, USC, etc. etc.–but this afternoon, tweeted out a picture of himself in a UK sweatshirt with the caption “S/O to that #BBN man!!!! #Wildcats!”. Drew Barker quickly retweeted it, and now Jefferson is feeling the crushing welcome of the BBN online.
“It’s just a sweatshirt. Big deal,” you say. Well, maybe, but can you imagine this happening a few years ago? Even if the Cats don’t land him, it’s great publicity for the program, and proof that Stoops and company are turning some heads.
Kentucky hosted over 50 total prospects, including multiple four and five-star recruits and many of its top targets for its Junior Day Saturday.
Among the Wildcats’ 28 2014 signees, 10 attended a Junior Day event at UK last February, so the event goes a long way in laying the foundation for the current recruiting cycle.
Likely the best overall collection of talent the Wildcats have had on campus in recent memory, UK had several of its top targets on campus and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive thus far.
For running reactions from this weekend’s visitors, visit CatsPause.com.
Follow Chris Fisher on Twitter @ChrisFisher247
For Mark Stoops, nothing is more important in the recruiting process than getting kids on campus. Similar to the show put on for Matt Elam at the Georgia game (you remember Vince Marrow’s “Y”), the football staff brought out all of the bells and whistles for the elite talent, most of whom had never been to Lexington. Junior Day is the first step in planting the seed- many of the 2014 commitments attended Mark Stoops’ first Junior Day. Here’s what some of the top talent from the state and around the nation had to say about their big day.
It’s safe to say defensive back Jaylan Foster enjoyed his time in Lex.
I will always remember this night , s/o to #BBN for the love ✊✊
— GetDoughBoys#⃣1⃣2⃣ (@jaylanfoster15) February 16, 2014
Mikel Horton’s high school teammates from Lakota West are VERY high on the Cats. Clayton ‘C.J.’ Stalker (right) couldn’t have a better name for a linebacker and George Asafo-Adjei certainly looks the part of D-1 offensive tackle.
You don’t think Swag is important? 4-Star Ohio linebacker Anthony McKee was impressed with the J’s on the B-ball Cats’ feet.
All the starters for Kentucky got on retros 11/12👌👟🏀 that swag
— Anthony Mckee Jr (@_xHeSuperSoLo) February 16, 2014
Kentucky football is set to host a monster Junior Day event this weekend.
To give you an idea of just how important it is to recruiting, among the Wildcats’ 28 2014 signees, 10 attended a Junior Day event at UK last February.
Needless to say, this weekend’s event could go a long way in laying the foundation for Kentucky’s 2015 class and features many of the Wildcats’ top targets, including:
– Berea (Ky.) Madison Southern 5-star RB Damien Harris
– Birmingham (Ala.) Shades Valley 5-star DT Daron Payne
– Bowling Green (Ky.) Warren East 4-star LB Eli Brown
An estimated 50 prospects will be on campus this weekend touring the facilities, meeting with the UK staff and attending Kentucky’s showdown with No. 3 Florida at Rupp Arena Saturday night.
For a full list of expected visitors, visit CatsPause.com’s House of Blue.
Follow Chris Fisher on Twitter @ChrisFisher247
There was a time when many thought Princeton (Ky.) Caldwell County’s Elijah Sindelar would be Kentucky’s quarterback of the 2015 class and one of the Wildcats’ next commitments.
But recently, Kentucky parted ways with Sindelar, who committed to Purdue Tuesday.
So, where will the Wildcats look for a quarterback in 2015?
We take a look at several early possibilities:
Lexington, KY (Lexington Catholic)
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 170
Ryan completed 216 of 336 passes (64.2 percent) of his passes for 3,349 yards and 37 touchdowns versus nine interceptions as a junior last season in leading Lexington Catholic to a 10-4 record and the Class 4A state semifinals.
Ryan holds early offers from Illinois and from the previous staff at Louisville.
Rated as the No. 14 pro-style quarterback prospect in the country according to the 247Sports Composite, the UK staff will get a good, long look at Ryan when he attends Junior Day this weekend.
The Plains, OH (Athens)
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 195
An outstanding overall athlete, Burrow threw for a robust 3,374 yards and 46 touchdowns against only nine interceptions last season and rushed for 589 yards and nine more scores en route to being named Ohio’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
West Virginia and Cincinnati are the latest to offer Burrow, joining Western Michigan, Ohio, Central Michigan, Toledo and Fresno State. Schools such as UK, Ohio State, Michigan State and Illinois have also begun to show interest.
Burrow’s father and two older brothers both played at Nebraska and his father, Jimmy, is currently an assistant coach at Ohio.
Lees Summit, MO (Lee’s Summit Sr.)
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 195
The No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the 247Sports Composite, Lock holds early offers from Illinois, Indiana, Louisville and Tennessee in addition to homestate Missouri, where his father played offensive line. The Tigers own a 100 percent stake in his Crystal Ball. Interestingly, fellow UK target Alex Ofodile has also Crystal Ball’d Lock to Missouri.
Lock, who passed for just over 3,000 yards and 35 scores as a junior, has drawn early interest from Kentucky and taken visits to Notre Dame, Tennessee and Nebraska.
Stephenville, TX (Stephenville)
Ht: 6-3.5 | Wt: 190
Stidham is no stranger to Kentucky. Originally from Corbin, he still has friends and family in the area and attended a UK camp last summer.
The Wildcats looked to be a strong contender for his services, but did not make his recent top 10. The No. 2 dual threat quarterback in the nation, Stidham has added recent offers from Miami, Florida, Penn State, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, Michigan and Oregon.
Texas Tech (59 percent), Baylor (32 percent), Texas A&M (5 percent) and Alabama (5 percent) all claim a stake in Stidham’s Crystal Ball.
As a junior last season, he accounted for about 3,000 yards and 44 total touchdowns.
For more recruiting scoop, check out CatsPause.com
Follow Chris Fisher on Twitter @ChrisFisher247
After some hints earlier this week that he and Kentucky had parted ways, 2015 QB Elijah Sindelar has committed to Purdue. The Caldwell County native was one of Kentucky’s biggest targets in the 2015 class until very recently, when it became clear that Sindelar was headed to Purdue, in part because of his interest in engineering.
Best of luck to Elijah at the next level.
Four-star defensive end Darius “Dee” Fullwood will visit Kentucky this weekend with four-star cornerback Marcus Lewis and four-star wide receiver Jabari Greenwood, all three from the Washington D.C. area. Fullwood, who recently called UK assistant Tommy Mainord one of his favorite coaches in America, was tweeting back and forth with his visiting buddies last night about how excited they are to get to Lexington.
Fullwood played with UK 2014 signee Kobie Walker at Good Counsel High School, so the pipeline has already been established to previously untapped D.C. turf. Lewis and Greenwood are high school teammates at nearby Gonzaga High School, 19 miles south of Good Counsel.
Fullwood, Lewis and Greenwood already have offers from Kentucky, and they could become the “Big Three” for the 2015 recruiting class, because, why not?
Kentucky’s 2014 class is officially in the books but recruiting never sleeps and the Wildcats have already laid the groundwork for 2015.
A look at five names to keep an eye on in 2015:
Berea, KY (Madison Southern)
Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 205
The No. 23 overall and No. 1 running back prospect in the 2015 class according to the 247Sports Composite, Harris is Kentucky’s top priority and happens to reside in UK’s own backyard.
Mark Stoops vaguely referenced Harris on signing day, asking if anyone knew where he could find a homerun running back.
Harris was previously committed to Michigan, but has since opened things back up and his offer sheet includes a Who’s Who of college football.
Drew Barker and Matt Elam could go a long way in persuading the 5-star to stay home, but Ohio State also looks to be a major player.
Columbia, MO (Rock Bridge)
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 185
Ofodile’s father, A.J., played at Missouri but roomed with Vince Marrow on the Buffalo Bills. Which relationship will win out?
The 4-star wideout, ranked as the No. 10 receiver in the country, visited UK last summer and likely will again.
Offer sheet continues to grow.
Bowling Green, KY (Warren East)
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 195
Kentucky has a ton of in-state recruiting momentum and behind Harris, Brown is ranked as the No. 2-rated prospect in the state of Kentucky.
Although Ohio State and Florida are already in the mix, UK has a great shot here with the former Vanderbilt commit.
The No. 8 outside linebacker prospect in the nation will visit Kentucky for Junior Day Feb. 15.
George Brown Jr.
Cincinnati, OH (Winton Woods)
Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 253
Brown is the cousin of 2014 UK signee Mike Edwards, has already been on campus a number of times and has consistently mentioned the Cats among his favorites.
Offer sheet is prolific but Marrow is on the case and the UK staff feels confident.
He will visit again for Junior Day Feb. 15.
Lagrange, OH (Keystone)
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 225
Tight end is a huge position of need in 2015 and Conrad may be No. 1 on UK’s big board.
Conrad is expected to visit soon and lists UK among his early favorites.
A potential Ohio State offer would loom large.
For more names to keep an eye on in the 2015 class, visit CatsPause.com
Follow Chris Fisher on Twitter @ChrisFisher247
You probably already knew that the Cats plan on signing four of the state’s five best players: Matt Elam, Drew Barker, Lloyd Tubman and Adrian Middleton. What you didn’t know is that there are still plenty of solid prospects around the state worthy to wear the UK uniform.
Over the past year the coaching staff has traveled to most of the high schools around the state, developing relationships with players and coaches. In the process, they’ve seen some hidden talent that doesn’t have quite the size of their normal scholarship players. In an attempt to “keep the best in the state home” they have added five preferred walk-ons to the 2014 class. They may not become your starting linebacker or receiver, but the play on the practice field and on Special Teams is just as important to Kentucky’s success in the future.
While I remember him most in his epic CSAA matchups at Holy Spirit against my little brother, Charles Walker made a name for himself during his four years at St. X. Walker was their premiere athlete, starring at running back while catching plenty of passes and playing Special Teams. Unfortunately injuries kept him out a lot during his Senior year, but the Kentucky coaching staff could not ignore Walker when he was timed running a 4.48 40-yard dash during camp.
Blake Spencer was an all-state linebacker for Betsy Layne High School last season after racking in 36 solo and 90 assisted tackles and two interceptions. The 6’3 210-pounder also caught 5 touchdowns at receiver. Spencer had some small-school offers but decided to come to UK as a Robinson Scholar. Already with a full-ride to UK, the coaching staff decided to give him a shot on the football field.
Whitehead was the best of the best in the mountains last year, averaging 11.6 tackles per game for the Black Bears of Harlan County. He was also a stud on the offensive side of the ball, leading his team in rushing with over 1,100 yards during his Senior season. Whitehead is a ‘head buster’ but he can’t bust every head he sees. His carer with the Black Bears ended against Madison Southern when Damien Harris went absolutely insane, scoring 6 TDs on 342 yards rushing. Don’t worry Carson, we won’t hold it against ya.
Lexington Catholic has a tradition of developing top talent for the next level, just ask Jacksonville Jaguar Winston Guy. Winston was a stud and Phillies’ centerfielder Ben Revere was a local legend, but neither of them caught more passes for more yards at Lexington Catholic than David Bouvier. Bouvier has all of the tangibles of a great wide receiver, except height. His 5’9 stature prevented the big boys from going after him, but the Cats couldn’t turn down his 4.3-4.4 speed.
Ryan played a little quarterback for the Tates Creek football team last fall, but his leg is what enticed the UK staff to offer him a preferred walk-on position. Landon Foster can’t punt forever, with Ryan stepping in as the next member of #PunterU.
Here’s an interesting read before you punch the time card and head home this Friday afternoon. Over on ESPN.com’s SEC blog, Edward Aschoff wrote about Kentucky’s “big splash” on National Signing Day, complete with quotes from Mark Stoops from yesterday’s episode of College Football Live.
“It’s very important to win your fair share of battles, and we’re going to win our fair share,” Stoops told ESPN. “We’re going to recruit very hard, we’re going to recruit the best players, and we’re not afraid to go in and compete. You’re going to win some and lose some, but I thought we did a nice job of hitting a very high percentage of guys we targeted.”
Aschoff points out that Stoops signed six members of the ESPN 300 and eight ESPN four-star prospects overall, one being a top-10 quarterback in Drew Barker. Though Stoops doesn’t have an SEC win on his resume, he picked up a win on NSD, Aschoff writes.
Read more here.