So much for a slow Sunday, right? Hamidou Diallo and UK announced that he has declared for →
Football Recruiting News
By Nick Roush on ©February 21st, 2017 @ 11:03am
In a matter of minutes, Eddie Gran added a pair of Chaminade-Madonna teammates to the 2018 recruiting class. Shortly after defensive end Davoan Hawkins committed, three-star wide receiver Marvin Alexander committed to Kentucky.
The 6’3″ 175-pound wide receiver told 247, “I feel it’s the best situation for me,” Alexander said. “I have a couple of my teammates going there. I just feel it’s the right place for me…It’s great that we will all be together in college, too.”
Joining Chris Whittaker and Joshua Ali from the class of 2017, Hawkins and Alexander give Stoops four from the Florida high school football powerhouse. Alexander shares a connection with another member of the 2017 class; he was teammates with Clevan Thomas for his first two years of school at Flanagan High School. Today’s two commitments give Kentucky three in the class of 2018.
Three-star 2018 defensive end Davoan Hawkins announced on Twitter he has committed to play football for Mark Stoops at the University of Kentucky.
Hawkins is teammates with 2017 signees Joshua Ali and Christopher Whittaker at Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Hollywood, Florida. Hawkins has offers from Wisconsin, North Carolina and West Virginia. Recruited by Eddie Gran, the strong side defensive end is the second commit in Stoops’ 2018 recruiting class, joining dual-threat quarterback Jarren Williams.
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 Podbay, or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Sam Gormley on ©February 03rd, 2017 @ 7:00pm
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:
By Drew Franklin on ©February 02nd, 2017 @ 11:00pm
On Wednesday, Mark Stoops signed his fifth class of Wildcats at the University of Kentucky. In his Signing Day press conference, Stoops said, “It’s our best class. Period.”
Tonight, we’ll look back at Stoops’ other Signing Day hauls and casually review the names from those classes. Some proved to be significant additions to the program, while others disappeared into the dark abyss that is the attrition of college football.
247Sports: No. 34
ESPN: No. 36
Rivals: No. 29
Scout: No. 38
Signees (22): Jeff Badet, WR; Javess Blue, JUCO WR; Steven Borden, JUCO TE; Tanner Fink, TE; Jason Hatcher, DE; Nick Haynes, OG; Jacob Hyde, DT; Jaleel Hytchye, CB; JoJo Kemp, RB; Melvin Lewis, JUCO DT; Austin MacGinnis, K; Blake McClain, S; Marcus McWilson, DB; Kyle Meadows, OT; Regie Meant, DE; Ramsey Meyers, OG; Alex Montgomery, WE; Reese Phillips, QB; Za’Darius Smith, JUCO DE; Khalid Thomas RB; Ryan Timmons, WR; Nate Willis, JUCO CB
Four-Star Signees (4): Jason Hatcher, Marcus McWilson, Za’Darius Smith, Ryan Timmons
Biggest Get: Jason Hatcher (flipped from USC on Signing Day)
One Who Got Away (So We Thought At The Time): Asiantii Woulard… Four-star, No. 1-ranked Dual-Threat QB out of Winter Park, FL… Committed to UCLA over Kentucky… Transferred to South Florida… Dismissed as team’s third-string QB prior to 2016 season
Major Contributors: Jeff Badet, Javess Blue, Nick Haynes, JoJo Kemp, Melvin Lewis, Austin MacGinnis, Blake McClain, Kyle Meadows, Marcus McWilson, Za’Darius Smith, Ryan Timmons
Early Departures/Transfers (4): Jason Hatcher, Jaleel Hytchye, Khalid Thomas, Regie Meant
What They Said At The Time:
Mark Stoops left an assistant job with Florida State a little more than two months ago to become the head coach at the University of Kentucky – despite never once setting foot on campus.
He didn’t need to see Lexington. He didn’t need to tour the facilities. He didn’t care that the program had lost at least five games every season since 1990, was just 110-160 overall and 9-85 against ranked teams.
Stoops believed in his own plan, believed in the people at UK and believed in one thing that increasingly carries incredible power on the recruiting trail – membership in the SEC. – Dan Wetzel, Yahoo!
Looking Back: Stoops came in piping hot with an enormous recruiting class (by Kentucky’s standards) after only 71 days on the job. The Jason Hatcher flip from USC was one of the biggest football commitments in the program’s history, just as Hatcher’s dismissal following several off-field issues was one of its biggest disappointments.
247Sports: No. 22
ESPN: No. 20
Rivals: No. 18
Scout: No. 21
Signees (28): Dorian Baker, WR; Drew Barker, QB; Blake Bone, WR; Tymere Dubose, DT; Mike Edwards, S; Matt Elam, DT; Nico Firios, OLB; Ryan Flannigan, JUCO OLB; Dorian Hendrix, ILB; Mikel Horton, RB; CJ Johnson, JUCO DT; Garrett Johnson, WR; Josh Krok, OT; Jarrett LaRubbio, OG; Darryl Long, TE; Adrian Middleton, DT; Kendall Randolph, CB; Nick Richardson, OT; Thaddeus Snodgrass, WR; Bunchy Stallings, C; AJ Stamps, JUCO S; Lloyd Tubman, DE; Jared Tucker, S; Kobie Walker, S; Denzil Ware, DE; Darius West, S; Boom Williams, RB, TV Williams, WR
Four-Star Signees (12): Dorian Baker, Drew Barker, Blake Bone, Mike Edwards, Matt Elam, Nico Firios, Kendall Randolph, Nick Richardson, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Denzil Ware, Darius West, Boom Williams
Biggest Get: Drew Barker (picked Kentucky over South Carolina) and Matt Elam (picked Kentucky over Alabama)
One Who Got Away (So We Thought At The Time): James Hearns…Four-star linebacker out of Tallahassee who decommitted from Florida and named Kentucky his leader… Didn’t sign on Signing Day… Signed with Louisville in the summer… Was shot at a party in Louisville in December
Major Contributors: Dorian Baker, Mike Edwards, Ryan Flannigan, CJ Johnson, Garrett Johnson, Adrian Middleton, AJ Stamps, Denzil Ware, Boom Williams
Early Departures/Transfers (10): Dorian Hendrix, Mikel Horton, Josh Krok, Jarrett LaRubbio, Darryl Long, Nick Richardson, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Lloyd Tubman, Jared Tucker, TV Williams
What They Said At The Time:
This ain’t your grandfather’s Kentucky. It’s not your father’s or your older brother’s, either. Mark Stoops didn’t have the highest ranked recruiting class in the country or even the SEC, but the top-20 class far outpaced even the highest expectations . The signees speaks for themselves — an infusion of young talent desperately needed for the road ahead — but the overall statement Stoops and his staff made going out and landing the best of the best was huge. Nabbing four-star defensive lineman Matt Elam from Alabama sent shockwaves through college football. It not only said that Kentucky was here to play; it’s here to play and win. — ESPN
Looking Back: When you keep one in-state star from going to South Carolina and another from going to Alabama, it’s a job well done. When you throw in several other top high school talents to go with them and finish with the school’s best ranking ever, it’s a damn good job. (Although, many of those key pieces have since departed.)
247Sports: No. 38
ESPN: No. 43
Rivals: No. 34
Scout: No. 45
Signees (22): Josh Allen, DE; George Asafo-Adjei, OT; Derrick Baity, CB; Kei Beckham, CB; Alvonte Bell, DE; Eli Brown, OLB; CJ Conrad, TE; Kengera Daniel, DE; Therrell Gosier, WR; Jabari Greenwood, WR; Will Jackson, ATH; Jordan Jones, OLB; Sihiem King, RB; Levon Livingston, OT; Courtney Miggins, DT; Javon Provitt, DT; Tavin Richardson, WR; Logan Stenberg, OT; Calvin Taylor, OT; Marcus Walker, S; Chris Westry, CB; Mason Wolfe, OG
Four-Star Signees (4): Eli Brown, CJ Conrad, Jordan Jones, Marcus Walker
Biggest Get: CJ Conrad (UK got on him very early and fought off late interest from Ohio State, his home state school)
One Who Got Away (So We Thought At The Time): Damien Harris… Five-star running back out of nearby Richmond, Ky… Committed to Alabama
Major Contributors: Josh Allen, George Asafo-Adjei, Derrick Baity, Alvonte Bell, CJ Conrad, Jordan Jones, Courtney Miggins, Chris Westry, Chris Westry
Early Departures/Transfers (4): Therrell Gosier, Will Jackson, Levon Livingston, Javon Provitt
What They Said At The Time:
Kentucky was smacked around by various broken commitments down the stretch, and the beating left a Signing Day bruise. The Wildcats lost defensive back Jeremiah Dinson and a pair of four-star brothers in Andrew Dowell and David Dowell in the week leading into National Signing Day. By the time Saturday was finished, Kentucky had the second-lowest-ranked recruiting class in the SEC. To make things worse, top target Marcus Lewis, a Rivals100 wide receiver, chose Florida State over the Wildcats, leaving Kentucky with not-so-pleasant memories of the recruiting cycle’s final days. – Rivals.com
Looking Back: After six commits backed out in a span of eight days with Signing Day approaching, Mark Stoops scrambled to build a class that didn’t jump off the page in rankings, but may actually be his best, now that we’ve seen what they can do.
247Sports: No. 31
ESPN: No. 35
Rivals: No. 29
Scout: No. 39
Signees (25): Jaylin Bannerman, DE; Jordan Bonner, OLB; TJ Carter, DE; JaQuize Cross, DT; Kash Daniel, LB; Luke Fortner, OT; Tobias Gilliam, CB; Jordan Griffin, CB; Gunnar Hoak, QB; Dakota Holtzclaw, TE; Zy’Aire Hughes, ATH; Drake Jackson, C; Stephen Johnson, QB; Tate Leavitt, OT; Kordell Looney, DT; Grant McKinniss, P; Naquez Pringle, DT; Justin Rigg, TE; Davonte Robinson, CB; AJ Rose, ATH; Kayaune Ross, WR; Benny Snell, RB; Roland Walder, LB; Jamar Watson, OLB; Landon Young, OT
Four/Five-Star Signees (5): Kash Daniel, Jordan Griffin, Gunnar Hoak, Drake Jackson, Landon Young (*****)
Biggest Get: Landon Young (No. 12 overall prospect in the United States of America)
One Who Got Away (So We Thought At The Time): A
Major Contributors: Stephen Johnson, Benny Snell, Landon Young and many more to come
Early Departures/Transfers : None so far
What They Said At The Time:
“It won’t draw the headlines of some of the SEC powers, but Kentucky’s 2016 recruiting class is well-rounded, has instant impact players, long-term projects and is loaded in the trenches—where games are won and lost.” — Bleacher Report
Looking Back: Little did we know, that Stephen Johnson guy, a late addition for depth after Towles’ transfer, would be in a hero in his first season. That Benny Snell kid turned out to be alright, too. Plus the Kentucky boys all stayed home and a few others showed potential in limited action so far.
247Sports: No. 26
ESPN: No. 30
Rivals: No. 26
Scout: No. 35
Signees (24): Abule Adabi-Fitzgerald, DE; Tyrell Ajian, ATH; Joshua Ali, ATH; Quinton Bohanna, DT; Lynn Bowden, ATH; Danny Clark, QB; Yusuf Corker, CB; Jamin Davis, OLB; Sebastien Dolcine, OG; Cedrick Dort, CB; Austin Dotson, OT; Isaiah Epps, WR; Phil Hoskins, DT; Lonnie Johnson, S; Alex King, DE; Bryant Koback, RB; Michael Nesbitt, CB; Joshual Paschal, DE; JaVonte Robinson, WR; Clevan Thomas, WR; Naasir Watkins, OT; Christopher Whittaker, DE; Walker Wood, QB; Jordan Wright, DE
Four-Star Signees (6): Tyrell Ajian, Lynn Bowden, Danny Clark, Yusuf Corker, Joshua Paschal, JaVonte Richardson
Biggest Get: Lynn Bowden (Vince Marrow called him the best player in Ohio)
One Who Got Away (So We Thought At The Time): Jedrick Wills… One of Lexington’s highest-rated high school prospects ever… Committed to Alabama over the Wildcats
Major Contributors: TBD
Early Departures/Transfers: TBD
Big Blue Nation, meet your Class of 2017…
SIGNED: ABULE ADABI-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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: 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.
SIGNED: CHRISTOPHER 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.
SIGNED: 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.
ENROLLED: 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.
ENROLLED: 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.
ENROLLED: 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.
ENROLLED: 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.
ENROLLED: 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.
ENROLLED: 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.
ENROLLED: 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.
By Nick Roush on ©February 01st, 2017 @ 9:00pm
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:
- Bou-den: Sounds like the part of a ship, or what you do to pay respect to someone.
- 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.
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.
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 01st, 2017 @ 5:00pm
Kentucky’s 2017 class is complete, and as the sun sets on an exciting National Signing Day, where does it rank with the rest in the country? Here’s a quick overview, as of 5:00 p.m. ET:
Rivals: #26 (#10 in the SEC)
247 Sports Composite: #29 (#11 in the SEC)
Scout: #35 (#12 in the SEC)
The class may not have ended up as highly ranked as we anticipated, but according to Lemming Prep Insider, Kentucky’s class is the second most underrated in the country:
— Lemming Prep Insider (@Lemmingprep) February 1, 2017
I’ll take it.
Did you miss Mark Stoops’ National Signing Day press conference? Have no fear, the transcript is here. Read every single word Stoops had to say this morning below, or watch the replay of the live stream:
COACH STOOPS: I’d like to start by thanking our coaching staff. Our guys have logged a bunch of miles. So I appreciate their effort. It’s a great group. The biggest thing about this class is a bunch of character, leaders and winners. It’s a heck of a group. Very proud to have them. So I’ll open it right up to questions.
Q. This year seems to be a surprise. I wonder if you’re surprised that you didn’t lose a senior. How hard is that?
COACH STOOPS: It’s very hard. I think that’s the big thing about this group. They’re winners. They got great character. We didn’t lose one guy since the start of the season, not one player. And that’s a special group.
Q. Abule was I guess maybe the last choice of you all.
COACH STOOPS: Yeah.
Q. Talk about him a little bit.
COACH STOOPS: Well, he was the last commitment. I could remember back to my days at Florida State with Coach Jimbo Fisher, and he always talked about, you know, it’s one thing about your top-end guys or the guys that were committed and the guys that were at the top of the stars and all that, but when you’re signing a group of 24 players, and he really made a big impact on myself and a big emphasis on this. It’s not so much about the top of that class. It’s not so much about the one, two, three, four guys that everybody likes to talk about. It’s about the guys at the end that you sign.
If you look at our guys through the years, we’ve had some great success with adding some players late and doing some proper evaluation. Again, with our staff, they do a phenomenal job of identifying players very early, and that’s been the key to our success is identifying the right guys early, staying on them and building that relationship. But it’s also about finishing and closing. And a guy like Abule was a very strong finish for us. He’s a guy that kind of blew up a little bit late, got an offer by us, got an offer by Florida late in the process was recruited by a lot of other mid-level schools, and Abule is a terrific young man with unbelievable upside.
When you look at a guy like that that you get committed late in the process who’s all of 6-5, 6-6, 250 pounds, with unbelievable upside, that’s what you’re looking for. And again, I look back to my lessons from Jimbo and making sure you’re getting the right guy at that 22, 23, 24 slot because that can make all the difference in your program as you move forward. So very proud of Abule. Unbelievable story, one believable young man. Great student. He’ll be a great addition to our program.
Q. Would you say it’s by far the best class when it comes to athletes?
COACH STOOPS: 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.
Q. Did you have a Benny Snell in this class?
COACH STOOPS: I don’t know, because we gotta wait and see; right? A year ago we didn’t know what we had in Benny. We knew the characteristics that we identified, about him being a tough, strong competitor, a guy that we had confidence that would make our running back room better, a guy that was very mature, and that’s what he is. But he also produced maybe a little bit more than we realized as well.
Top to Bottom
The Class of 2014 is widely considered the best class in the history of the school, but they were top heavy. From Bowden to Abule, Stoops believes each play will contribute.
“I just feel so good about this class top to bottom,” he said. That’s no disrespect to the other guys, because I love them and they’re going to be great players, and we’re going to win a bunch of games. But it just takes a lot of great classes, and we want to continue to build on that, and we hope next year’s class is even better. And we anticipate that it will be.”
Stoops has suffered some late attrition in the past, but not this year. In this year’s recruiting calendar they didn’t lose any commits. After beginning with a “strong nucleus” of players, beating Louisville and finishing the season strong “certainly didn’t hurt” to help keep everyone in the fold.
“They’ve been so loyal to us,” he said. “These guys could have gone a lot of places, and they’ve been very solid with us.”
Versatility at a Variety of Positions
The “athlete” title is given to three players — Lynn Bowden, Joshua Ali and Tyrell Ajian — but they are not alone. The best part about this class — other than being bigger, faster stronger — is their versatility. Most of the receivers can play inside or out, most of the defensive backs can play corner or safety, and the defensive linemen can play all across the line of scrimmage.
The most versatile big man is Joshua Paschal, who will start as an outside linebacker.
“Josh is a guy that definitely can play more positions, and you’ll see how his body grows, but I’d like to start him in a role like a Bud Dupree and play him standing up,” Stoops said. “He has the ability to drop, but he has exceptional bursts in pass-rushing ability, so he’s very versatile.”
Mark Stoops called for more support from the fans on today’s edition of KSR and in his press conference. He told the group of reporters:
“We need to fill this place, because let me tell you, the guys that came here late in the season and watched our Georgia game and see that environment, that’s the environment that we have to play in front of every week, and that’s what we’re competing against. You guys know, you travel around and go look at the other SEC schools, winning or losing they are packing them in.”
Vince Marrow said the environment for the Georgia game is why Paschal came to Kentucky. After seeing TreVaughn struggle through the Joker Phillips era, their father needed to be convinced Kentucky has changed. After Josh attended the Georgia game, he was sold. He immediately called his father and said, “This is not what you think, Dad.”
An Eloquent Closing Remark
After an exhausting few months of busy recruiting, Stoops ended with an eloquent and optimistic message:
“Thank you to all you. Thanks for your interest, thanks for your coverage. I appreciate our staff, our wives, our families for the sacrifice that they make. It’s been a long year, culminating with this class here today that’s going to represent this university the right way.
The fans are going to be very proud of this group. It’s a great foundation for a freshman class for next year. And it’s definitely going to help us in the future. We’re excited about this year. I’m really happy to get this wrapped up, to be honest with you, and onto developing our players and getting to work with our players next week. So thank you all very much.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 01st, 2017 @ 3:00pm
This morning, Jedrick Wills broke the collective hearts of the BBN by staying firm on his commitment and signing with Alabama, though his official press conference will not be until 3:45 p.m.
In today’s press conference with Mark Stoops, we were told the 2017 class was complete, and no one would be added this afternoon, meaning Danny Davis and Thayer Munford were both off the table.
4-star OT Thayer Munford confirmed this news by signing with Ohio State this afternoon.
Later on, 4-star WR Danny Davis signed with the Wisconsin Badgers, officially putting an end to all rumors and speculation… for at least this class.
On that note, we are just 365 days from National Signing Day 2018!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 01st, 2017 @ 2:35pm
The gem of this year’s recruiting class has to be four-star athlete Lynn Bowden. Not only is the Youngstown, Ohio native is the highest-rated and most explosive athlete in Kentucky’s 2017 class, Vince Marrow thinks he’s the best player from the state of Ohio, period.
“I will go on the record as saying this: we signed the best player in Ohio. Lynn Bowden is the best player in Ohio. And if you ask probably 30 reporters that cover Ohio football, they’ll all say he’s the best player in Ohio. Sometimes when they don’t go to that other school, now he may be the second best or the third best player.”
Like Bowden, Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow are Youngstown natives and Marrow said when he heard his friends back home talking about Bowden, he knew he had to get him.
“How good is Lynn Bowden? You know, I’m like Coach Stoops, I was a good player too coming out of Youngstown, and I remember my brother told me, ‘This guy is better than [anyone in] probably 30 years.’ I started to thing of Maurice Clarett, who’s the number one player in the country, Mario Manningham, man there are so many guys that come out of there. You know, everybody in their hometown, you have a guy you check references with and everyone I’ve talked to said this kid is just unbelievable.”
When four-star offensive tackle Thayer Munford visited UK, his high school coach raved about Bowden to Marrow, recalling how he scored seven touchdowns in the second half to upset Massillon, one of the top programs in Ohio.
“He saw Lynn on his official visit, and said, ‘That kid, we were up 21-7 at halftime, we ended up losing 41-38, he had seven touchdowns in the second half.’ Now, Massillon football, that’s the mecca of Ohio, Massillon and Canton. That told me right there how good that kid was. He’s good. He’s still gotta come in and improve, but he’s good.”
How loyal is Bowden? This morning, he told Ryan Allison of WKBN in Youngstown that Ohio State — a program from which he’s coveted an offer for years — reached out to him at the last minute and he turned them down:
— Ryan Allison (@Ryan27WKBN) February 1, 2017
Not one to heap expectations on teenagers, but this kid has folk hero written all over him.
By Drew Franklin on ©February 01st, 2017 @ 11:14am
It sounds like Kentucky’s Class of 2017 is done at 24 signees, according to Mark Stoops.
When asked if he expects to add anyone else to the class, Stoops told KSR, “I doubt it. It looks like that is about it right now.”
“The nice thing is we had no surprises today,” he continued. “We were very solid, these players have been solid for a long time, and it was a really great group to recruit. So we’re very, very happy with that.”
“Remember, we always embrace the ones you got. You got the ones you were meant to get, and we are very, very excited about this group… You never worry about the ones that got away; you embrace the ones you got.”
By Drew Franklin on ©February 01st, 2017 @ 11:04am
With 24 of its 24 known commitments officially on board, Kentucky’s recruiting class is set in stone (barring any last-minute additions) for 2017.
That class is currently in the Rivals.com Top 25, coming in at lucky No. 25 in the nation and No. 9 in the Southeastern Conference. You may notice that it is also one spot ahead of what Louisville has going on on down the road. (Shout-out to that fumble, Lamar.)
Mark Stoops is currently on KSR radio with Matt and Ryan to discuss his new class and the impact he expects it to make going forward. He and his assistant coaches will hold a press conference at 1 pm for even more Signing Day talk later on today, which we will cover here on KSR.