Football Recruiting News
Mark Stoops took full advantage of the inaugural December Signing Period by inking 20 Wildcats. By doing so, the UK head coach and his ace recruiter Vince Marrow were afforded the luxury of condensing their staff’s efforts on key positions and or players to complete the Class of 2018. NSD is on Wednesday. UK, like most programs with slots to fill, may have a few tricks up their Nike cladded sleeves.
Kentucky has received commitments from offensive tackle Nick Lewis and WR LiAllen Dailey since the early signing period. This brings the Class of 2018’s total to 22.
Offensive Tackle Nick Lewis
- Measurables: 6’9, 348-pounds (Per 247Sports)
- Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
- High School: The Bolles School
- Chose UK Over: Was committed to Washington State. Had over 20 FBS offers.
Lewis comes from the same high school as former UK commit and current Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. 247Sports ranks Lewis as the 53rd OT in the class. I trust and value Mike Leach’s ability to identify pass blockers. Lewis adds a final piece of Kentucky’s best offensive line haul in the Mark Stoops era.
Wide Receiver LiAllen Dailey
- Measurables: 6’3, 196-pounds
- Hometown: Pinson, Alabama
- High School: Pinson Valley HS
- Chose UK Over: Louisville
Dailey is a 1st Team All-State (6A) Alabama wide receiver with 80 receptions, 1441-yards, and 23 TD catches on 6A state championship team. Considered a late-bloomer. Dailey’s 1,441 single season receiving yards also ranks among the state’s top-10 single seasons in AHSAA history. Kentucky sorely missed an explosive play WR in 2017. Yards after catch dropped from 2016. Dailey will have a chance to compete for early playing time.
Running Back Kavosiey Smoke
- Measurables: 6’0, 215-pounds
- Hometown: Wetumpka, Alabama
- High School: Wetumpka HS
Smoke visited UK on January 26. His physical running style coupled with deceptive top-end speed match Kentucky’s preference in running back style. North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida Atlantic are also in hot pursuit for Smoke’s services. He helped lead Wetumpka to the 6A state championship game against LiAllen Dailey’s Pinson Valley. Both Carolina programs may want him; Kentucky needs Kavosiey Smoke. There’s a huge difference in need and want.
Linebacker Chris Oats
- Measurables: 6’4, 215-pounds
- Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
- High School: Winton Woods HS
Frequent Xavier Peters and Chris Oats compare and contrast articles have been written by recruiting services and other media outlets. Per 247Sports, Oats is the only one of the two to hold offers from both Ohio State and Michigan. Those two program’s official interest in Ohio prospects is the measuring stick that Ohio players are measured by through the evaluation period. Oats led his team to the Ohio Division II state title game. Winton Woods HS also produced Kentucky’s All SEC safety Mike Edwards.
You can read my thoughts on his projected development here: Prospective Wildcat Compares to NFL Linebacker
Mark Stoops Completes His Coaching Staff
Excerpts from UK’s official release after White’s hiring:
“My wife and I are really excited and grateful to Coach Stoops for the opportunity to join the Kentucky family,” White said. “Kentucky is a program on the rise. I’ve been very impressed with how Coach Stoops is building this team. I’m especially impressed with the linebackers. They are a diverse group with rising seniors and talented young players all showing they can be successful in the SEC. I’m eager to get started.”
Stoops confirmed that White will take over the outside linebackers, freeing up special teams coordinator Dean Hood to help Steve Clinkscale in the secondary.
“When I talked to Brad, he impressed me with his expertise, his NFL experience and what a very, very good technician he is,” said Stoops, who did not know White prior to the hiring search. “Brad came highly recommended from people I know at Indianapolis. In addition to his knowledge of coaching linebackers, he has ‘big picture’ expertise.
“I’m also excited about hiring Brad because it will enable us to move Coach (Dean) Hood to the secondary, where he will assist Coach Clink (Steve Clinkscale). Dean has been a defensive backs coach for most of his career.”
What This Means
— White’s NFL experience coaching outside linebackers will only augment the games of two future professionals-Josh Allen and Denzil Ware. Plus, UK has recruited this position at a high level. White will also greatly help Josh Paschal, Jordan Wright, and other younger players.
— Historically, Kentucky has been a linebacker developmental program. White’s NFL experience and coaching competence only enhances that status.
— He coached at the Air Force Academy. White was instrumental in the development of Falcon linebackers Jordan Waiwaiole and Brady Amack, who were each first-year starters in 2010. Waiwaiole led the team in tackles with 96 in 2010, while Amack led the team with 136 in 2011. The Falcons advanced to post-season play in both 2010 and 2011, defeating Georgia Tech in the 2010 Independence Bowl and falling to Toledo on the 2011 Military Bowl.
— As you could have predicted; I highly approve of coaches that have worked at a military academy.
— This move frees up Coach Dean Hood to move from outside linebackers to the secondary. The manner in which position coaches are measured is the year-to-year improvement of assigned players. UK’s OLB’s were noticeably better under Hood’s tutelage in 2017. The Wildcat secondary struggled a year ago. I expect the same leap from the senior laden group in 2017. Hood’s move alone could impact the W/L column.
Stay tuned for a heavy-football week on Kentucky Sports Radio Dot Com.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 02nd, 2018 @ 3:57pm
Things continue to look up for Kentucky and top Ohio linebacker Chris Oats. A source tells KSR that after cancelling this weekend’s visit to Ohio State, Oats has decided to take an unofficial visit to Kentucky instead. He is in Lexington as we speak — err, type.
To learn more about Oats, scroll down and read Freddie Maggard’s profile. As someone noted in the comments section, he doesn’t do that often for unsigned prospects, so read into that what you will…
I’ll leave you with a live look at Vince Marrow:
By Freddie Maggard on ©February 02nd, 2018 @ 3:15pm
Vince Marrow has won his fair share of recruiting battles. Kentucky went into Michigan and signed the state’s highest-rated overall player (Marquan McCall) and its best defensive prospect (Deandre Square). Currently, Winton Woods LB Chris Oats is considered by many to be a Kentucky lean. Oats sports offers from Michigan, Georgia, Michigan State, The U, and many, many more. Intriguingly, Oats hails from Cincinnati and according to 247Sports has also been offered by Ohio State. Kentucky beating the Buckeyes for an Ohio prospect would be a ridiculous hallucination prior to Mark Stoops taking over the Wildcat football program. I have no say-so in the crystal ball predictions; but if I did….I’d project the Big Dog (Vince Marrow) for the win proving that prospect/coach relationships can overcome in-state preferences. Vince Marrow. Big Dog. Folks, Marrow is an invaluable and irreplaceable leader of the Wildcat’s recruiting program.
Chris Oats is a 6’4, 215-pound linebacker. He also played special teams and hardly left the field. Most, if not all recruiting services are projecting him to play on the edge, more specifically outside linebacker. I disagree and forecast the elite athlete putting on quality weight and strength to become a Mike (Middle) LB. After watching hours of Oats’ tape, I had a reoccurring sensation that I’d seen a similar type player but I couldn’t quite recall the name. I couldn’t sleep last night after watching the Cats beat Auburn so I watched Lone Survivor for about the 20th time. While in the middle of the movie and second bag of popcorn, the answer hit me right between the eyes; Oats possesses a build (while in high school), instincts, speed, and traits that are eerily similar to former Mississippi State linebacker Benardrick McKinney. My investigation ensued. My hunch was correct, or at least in my opinion. If Oats’ anticipated development goes as expected, he indeed sufficiently compares to McKinney.
Benardrick McKinney was an All-American inside linebacker while playing for Dan Mullen at Miss State. He was the defensive captain of the Bulldog team that bolted to the nation’s top ranking. Prior to leading the Dog defense, McKinney was 6’3, 210-pound all-state ATH prospect from Rosa Fort High School, Mississippi. He played multiple positions (same as Oats) and was the team’s quarterback and starred on the basketball court. He totaled 2,036 yards and accounted for 22 touchdowns. McKinney grew, added weight-strength, settled in on an inside linebacker position, developed, and flourished in Starkville by finishing his career measuring 6’4, 245 pounds. Oats is also 6’4 which is considered tall for an inside linebacker. He was drafted by the Houston Texans in the second round and was recently selected by NFL.com to the All-NFL Under 25 Team.
Let’s Go to the Tape
Benardrick McKinney at Rosa Fort High School
Chris Oats at Winton Woods High School State Championship Highlights
National Signing Day is on February 7. The BBN could learn of Oats’ final decision prior to NSD or it could come down to a hat trick next Wednesday. Kentucky could be getting a tremendous athlete that I project to inside linebacker. Oats has the speed and instincts to play that position at an extremely high level. Expect an earth-shaking roar from the Joe Craft Football Training Center if and when Chris Oats’ fax is transmitted. This is big boy recruiting at its finest.
By Nick Roush on ©February 01st, 2018 @ 1:30pm
With less than a week until National Signing Day, there’s a lot of information flying around Kentucky’s highest-ranked remaining target, Chris Oats.
Yesterday a recruiting analyst told Ben Roberts it looked like Oats was going to commit to Ohio State after taking an official visit this weekend. Today that same analyst has flipped his Crystal Ball pick from Ohio State to Kentucky. Oats also confirmed he will not take an official visit to Columbus. Now picks are flooding in for “Oats to Kentucky.”
The late Crystal Ball changes confirm what sources have told KSR: Kentucky has been in an excellent position with Oats since his official visit in December.
A four-star linebacker from Mike Edwards’ alma mater, Cincinnati Winton Woods, Oats’ strength is his versatility. The 6’4″ 220-pund athlete can put on weight and play any of the four linebacker positions. If he signs with Kentucky on Wednesday he will be the third-highest ranked recruit in the Cats’ 2018 recruiting class.
We’ll find out if the Crystal Ball predictions are true in just six days.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 31st, 2018 @ 10:00pm
College football’s second national signing day for the class of 2018 is scheduled for February 7, and the Kentucky coaching staff is scrambling to fill the remaining spots with the best talent available.
Four-star linebacker Xavier Peters flipped his commitment from Kentucky to Florida State last week, making four-star pass rusher Christopher Oats out of Cincinnati, OH a major priority for the Cats.
Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader caught up with Ohio recruiting analyst Bill Greene on Kentucky’s chances with the star linebacker, who believes it’ll come down to two schools.
“I think it’s Kentucky or Ohio State,” said Greene.
Unfortunately for Kentucky fans, Oats is expected to take an official visit to Ohio State, which leads Greene to believe he ends up in scarlet and grey.
“As long as this Ohio State official visit takes place — and I haven’t heard any different — I think he’s going to go to Ohio State,” Greene said.
So why does one visit to Columbus mean Oats is a lock for the Buckeyes? Greene believes that the Ohio State coaching staff doesn’t mess around this late in the game, and if they bring you in on an official around National Signing Day, you’re a priority.
“Going by the Ohio State history, when they bring in-state kids in for official visits late in the process, they are always takers, and they always get ’em. I can’t think of one kid that has fit this scenario and he doesn’t end up being a taker, and he doesn’t end up being at Ohio State. That’s usually the way this goes,” Greene said.
Kentucky has been seen as the favorite in his recruitment for several weeks now, especially after Wildcat safety Mike Edwards announced his return to school for a senior campaign. Sources told KSR the two wanted to play together, and if Ohio State didn’t come in at the last moment, he was Kentucky’s to-lose.
Unfortunately for the Cats, that’s exactly what the Buckeyes did.
That being said, Greene believes Oats’ relationship with Vince Marrow could win out in the end, and it wouldn’t be a massive upset for him to end up in blue and white.
“It won’t shock me if he ends up going to Kentucky, and I think Kentucky feels pretty confident that they can get him,” he said.
There’s still time for Vince Marrow and the Wildcat coaching staff to sway him our way, but this upcoming visit doesn’t look too promising…
By Nick Roush on ©January 27th, 2018 @ 1:00pm
The Kentucky football team could land its most important remaining recruit in the 2018 class before the weekend concludes.
Originally scheduled to visit Lexington last weekend, Kavosiey Smoke postponed his official visit to UK until this weekend. Kentucky must do everything they can to secure a commitment from the powerful Wetumpka, Alabama running back while he is on campus.
In search for one final running back in the 2018 class, Smoke can make one cut and power through opponents with a running style that mirrors Benny Snell’s. As Freddie Maggard noted, Kentucky has a couple other recruits that are ranked higher, but none are more important. Eddie Gran’s offense has succeeded on the shoulders of UK’s running backs. To continue that success, they need Smoke’s broad shoulders in the backfield.
Can Kentucky make it happen? Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow were able to convince Nick Lewis and LiAllen Dailey to commit after last week’s official visits. It might be more difficult to persuade Smoke to spurn North Carolina, but it could happen before the weekend concludes. Stay tuned.
By Freddie Maggard on ©January 26th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
Mark Stoops inked 20 Wildcats during the inaugural December Signing Period. He later received pledges from WR LiAllen Dailey and OT Nick Lewis. But, the Cats are far from completing the Class of 2018. February 7th marks the traditional National Signing Day. Football recruiting followers (Me included) have made the first Wednesday in February an unofficial holiday for decades.
Kentucky could complete the class with three players that would provide an instant, on-field impact. Let’s take a look:
Running Back Kavosiey Smoke
–Measurables: 6’0, 215-pounds
-Hometown: Wetumpka, Alabama
-High School: Wetumpka High
-Rivals #29 RB in the nation
-Offers: Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Florida, Virginia Tech, more.
-Summary: Tough, tough, football player that is well versed/coached in the intricacies of playing the position. Led Wetumpka High School to state championship game. Visiting Kentucky on January 26th which is a good sign for Vince Marrow. Plus, running back is a critical position of need for offensive coordinator and RB coach Eddie Gran. Gran’s track record of developing running backs for the NFL is stellar and lengthy.
Benny Snell Jr. could possibly be entering his final year in Lexington if he decides to depart Lexington for the NFL following his junior season. The Music City Bowl exhibited UK’s paramount need for a RB that can not only spell Snell; but present troubles for opposing defenses.
Smoke’s running style is similar to Benny Snell and incoming freshman Chris Rodriguez. His game film highlights a power RB with deceptive, pull-away speed and excellent cut-back vision. He excels in a 1-cut offense which is what Eddie Gran operates at Kentucky. Smoke is also familiar with the Wildcat formation as he executed the scheme in high school in the Red-Zone as well as other circumstances. Smoke is a perfect fit for Kentucky. Kentucky would be a perfect stylistic fit for Smoke.
Outside Linebacker Chris Oats
-Measurables: 6’4, 215-pounds
-Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
-High School: Winton Woods (Mike Edwards alma mater)
-Ranking: 247Sports 4-star
-Offers: Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Georgia, Miami, Nebraska, West Virginia, Pitt, many more.
-Summary: Instant impact player. Never left the field for Winton Woods High School including special teams. Like all Winton Wood products, Oats is technically sound and well coached. Team-guy; multi-sport athlete. Was the best athlete on the field in games I watched. Quick recognition from Will/Sam/Mike linebacker positions. Compares to and project tosame position as Josh Allen. Sideline to sideline defender with quick recall of run/pass. Can rush the passer, strong vs. the run as well as he appears comfortable dropping into pass coverage.
Outside Linebacker Xavier Peters
-Measurables: 6’4, 225-pounds
-Hometown: West Chester, Ohio
-High School: Lakota West (Same high school as George Asafo-Adjei, Kayaune Ross, Kyle Meadows)
-Ranking: 247Sports 4-star
-Offers: Committed to Kentucky on July 4th, 2017. Other suiters: Florida State, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, USC, UCLA, Wisconsin, more…
-Summary: Excelled in All American Game. Big time football player from a big time high school football program that readies players for college football on an annual basis. Extremely well coached, technically sound. Played Mike LB, but can play all four LB positions in college. Preferred size to play immediately. Quick closing speed to tackle; takes accurate pursuit angles. Takes on blockers with proper shoulder prior to shedding to tackle. Can run. Sideline to sideline tackler and effective vs. the pass or pass.
What does all this mean?
Smoke, Peters, and Oats are elite prospects that could help Kentucky in 2018. All three are college ready and will push for immediate clock. I’ve stayed true to my word by declaring the Class of 2015 as the Cat’s best haul over the past five years.
However, the Class of 2018 will be Mark Stoops’ best IF Vince Marrow and staff can close on these three.
By Nick Roush on ©January 25th, 2018 @ 6:00pm
Hear from DeAndre Square
Arguably Kentucky’s most versatile defender in the 2018 recruiting class is now on campus. DeAndre Square had 84 tackles and forced four fumbles while playing linebacker, safety and cornerback for Detroit’s Cass Tech. He also played receiver and put on 25 pounds throughout his senior season. In a profile in The Detroit News, he explained why he made the move down I-75.
“Kentucky is a program that’s on the rise, trying to get guys to come in and play early and just change the program around and I’m just excited to be a part of that,” Square said.
“Marquan McCall and Tyler Markray (Walled Lake Central), a lineman and a running back, are also guys from the area that will be going to Kentucky.”
KSR will speak with Square and Kentucky’s four other mid-year additions next week.
Trevon Flowers is Down to Two
During last weekend’s official visit to Lexington, the two-sport star posed for arguably the greatest recruiting picture ever taken.
Flowers has not revealed much about his recruitment. We know he plans on playing football and baseball and he told Justin Rowland it’s down to UK and Tennessee. He plans on being in Knoxville for an official this weekend.
Why Nick Lewis likes Duke Basketball
Denzil Ware riled up some Kentucky fans for showing his love for Duke basketball on Twitter. When new UK commit Nick Lewis gets to campus, you can’t be mad at him for liking Duke, and here’s why.
“Kentucky always has one of the best basketball teams in the country. I know that,” Lewis said. “But I am a Duke fan. I do love Duke because I played with Grayson Allen. He’s my man. I got to be for him.”
I’m sure Allen was wise enough to not trip the 6’9″ 350-pounder. Lewis also talked about his connection to former UK commit Mac Jones. The Alabama quarterback told his former offensive tackle to go to Kentucky. Odd.
Three UK Signees Played in the International Bowl
Tight end Brenden Bates, offensive tackle Darian Kinnard and offensive guard Quintin Wilson spent their Friday night playing in AT&T Stadium, a.k.a. Jerry World. The UK trio from The Buckeye State represented the USA in the ninth annual International Bowl.
Bates had the honor to hold the American flag during the National Anthem.
UK signee Brenden Bates was chosen to hold the American flag (and featured on the AT&T Stadium big screen) during the National Anthem at last night’s International Bowl. Pretty cool: pic.twitter.com/pjipDnjuWa
— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) January 20, 2018
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 25th, 2018 @ 3:20pm
Congratulations to Danville’s D’Mauriae VanCleave, who was just named 2017 Kentucky Mr. Football by the Associated Press.
The 5’7″ athlete is the first Danville player to ever win the award after leading the Admirals to a state title in 2017. He was named MVP of that game after scoring four touchdowns and intercepting two passes. He finished his senior season with 82 catches for 1,095 yards and 14 touchdowns, along with 762 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 72 carries. He finished his career at Danville with 3,012 receiving yards, 1,317 rushing yards, and 73 total touchdowns, as well as 112 tackles and 16 interceptions on defense.
He is small, but he is FAST, reportedly running a 4.3 forty.
As of now, VanCleave’s only Division I scholarship offer is from Wofford, but UK has talked to him about coming on as a preferred walk-on. Maybe today’s honor will inspire Mark Stoops to keep a spot open for him in the 2018 class?
“I don’t think it’d be a waste of a scholarship,” Danville coach Clay Clevenger told the Herald-Leader’s Josh Moore. “I don’t think it’s something where you’re just throwing it out to somebody. I think he’s somebody, because of his skill set, who could find a way on the field whether it be special teams or in packages or something out.”
From one Admiral to another, congrats, D’Mauriae.
By Nick Roush on ©January 22nd, 2018 @ 7:35pm
For the second time in as many days, Mark Stoops has received a commitment in the 2018 recruiting class. A day after wide receiver LiAllen Dailey committed to Kentucky at the conclusion of his official visit, another official visitor from the weekend, offensive tackle Nick Lewis, committed to Kentucky.
Stoops flipped the massive 6’9″ 350-pound three-star offensive tackle from Washington State.
From Jacksonville, Florida, Lewis spent most of his career protecting the blindside of former UK commit Mac Jones at The Bolles School.
Lewis is now the 23rd commitment in Stoops’ 2018 recruiting class. His addition bumps UK up six spots to No. 27 in the 247 Composite Rankings. Watch him do work in the trenches:
By Freddie Maggard on ©January 22nd, 2018 @ 6:00pm
Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow locked up 20 signatures during December’s early signing period. The Wildcats met a significant portion of its recruiting needs but there are still a few spots available.
There are two methods of going about closing out a class. First is to sign the “Best Available” talent. This means that the player’s position is not factored, just the best overall player that the staff has evaluated. The second is more specific in which Kentucky will target certain “Positions of Need.” This category addresses specific needs based off depth chart holes or deficiencies that can be improved by signing additional players.
Let’s take a look back at December’s riches and project forward to February 7th:
I really like this group. John Schlarman has inked three to this point. This trio is the most college ready offensive line haul that Stoops has signed based off high school film. All three are technically sound as well as possessing preferred height/weight standards prior to reporting.
— Quintin Wilson projects at center and was rated as high as 5th in the nation at that position. Wilson is extremely intelligent (4.0 GPA) and as mentioned earlier, technically sound.
— Kenneth Horsey is the mauler of the bunch and another potential “steal” in this class. Both Horsey and Wilson project inside. Bunchy Stallings will be a senior. Logan Stenberg a junior. Inside line-of-scrimmage depth was highly important.
— All American Darian Kinnard didn’t waver from his commitment even though several other programs were pushing late. Kinnard is a prototypical right tackle. He was extremely well coached and developed at tradition rich St. Ignatius High School.
— “Best Available” player could be added.
— The Cats just landed the best available by flipping 6-9 offensive tackle Nick Lewis from Washington State.
Eddie Gran praised Chris Rodriguez’s intensity and toughness in December. With Bryant Koback’s unexpected departure, running back is a definite “Position of Need”. Simply stated, the Cats badly need an additional capable-now running back. Capable-now translated: A running back that is college ready and can compete for quality reps in 2018. Note that I didn’t type “Quantity” reps. Eddie Gran already has Sihiem King and AJ Rose behind All SEC RB Benny Snell. Both have shown flashes but are facing an important offseason. The offense needs a ground-game threat that does not wear 26 on his jersey. This situation was noticeable throughout 2017 and highlighted in the second half of the Music City Bowl.
— Chris Rodriguez registered 3 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles while playing defensive back. That should properly summarize his intensity level. Rodriguez has comparable traits to Benny Snell. No, I didn’t compare him to Snell; but the duo possess a similar running style.
— An explosive play running back could be priority one for this staff. The Cats are heavily pursuing Wetumpka, Alabama’s Kavosiey Smoke.
— The running back position most definitely fills both categories: “Best Available” and “Position of Need.”
Three signees in the Class of 2018. Starters Juice Johnson, Blake Bone, Charles Walker are all gone. Kayaune Ross can also be added to the departed. Dorian Baker returns for a 5th year after a season ending injury that occurred in preseason practice. Tavin Richardson is coming off a solid performance in the bowl game. However, it feels like a clean slate for the Wildcat pass catchers. There will be a new position coach which means that competition will be prevalent and pressured. This could, and needs to, lead this group to execute at a higher level.
— Akeem Hayes and Marvin Alexander were teammates on Chaminade-Madonna Prep’s state championship team.
— Hayes is more of a slot receiver. Alexander projects outside to the “X” position and has the speed to take the top off opposing defenses. Alexander could press for playing time if he can consistently and quickly execute the post route.
— Bryce Oliver was a December Signing Day surprise. 6’3, 200-pounds, Oliver could prove to be a Red-Zone threat.
— Jeff Badet and Dorian Baker’s unforeseen exits coupled with a beaten up quarterback somewhat limited the Kentucky passing game.
— 2016 (2419) and 2017 (2446) had similar numbers in the passing yardage category. But, UK had 17 touchdowns through the air in 2016 compared to just 10 in 2017. Simply stated, the Cats need a homerun hitter that can loosen opposing defenses that will continue to stack the box until forced to do otherwise.
— LiAllen Dailey committed to Kentucky on January 21st. Being named Alabama 6A, 1st Team All State and 23 TD receptions on a state championship team jump out of his bio. My contacts in Alabama are saying the Dailey could be the steal of the Class.
— Receivers will be challenged in the offseason. This position group falls in the “Best Available” category.
CJ Conrad should be ready to go come game day. Vince Marrow’s meeting room got bigger and better in December when the ace recruiter signed 2 out of Ohio.
— Greg Hart graduated which opens a slot on the depth chart. Justin Rigg returns with high expectations.
— Brenden Bates is a bigger version of CJ Conrad coming out of high school. Keaton Upshaw is a bigger version of Brenden Bates.
— Marrow crushed this TE haul. Both or at least one will play in 2018. This position group is solid and falls under the “Best Available” category.
Stoops and Marrow got their man. Terry Wilson was and remains to be a priority for the Kentucky Wildcats. Wilson will compete for immediate playing time. The job won’t be easily handed over to the Oklahoma native. Likely, Gunnar Hoak has the current upper-hand due to his familiarity with the offense. The quarterback competition started immediately after Wilson’s fax cleared the desk.
— Exit Stephen Johnson and Drew Barker. Enter Terry Wilson. Wilson, originally signed with Oregon, was rated as the 5th overall junior college player by ESPN.
— Wilson adds the RPO dimension but is also a capable pocket passer. Trust me: much more to come on this position. There’ll be countless future posts highlighting the Wildcat quarterbacks.
— UK will not sign another quarterback.
Kentucky improved its roster by signing 3 defensive backs. It also continued recent trend of recruiting taller cornerbacks to counter the plethora of future NFL receivers it will face in and out of the Southeastern Conference. Both Jamari Brown and Stanley Garner can play all 5 secondary positions and are 6’2 or taller.
— UK will sport senior starters at 4/5 secondary positions in 2018. Building depth and developing the next era of pass defenders were mandatory endeavors.
— Brown and Garner are both highly skilled athletes. The incoming freshman are good enough to play; but need will dictate.
— Dom Williams’ path to Lexington included a stop at the junior college ranks and should provide direct depth. The secondary falls under “Best Available” category.
The Cats needed an instant impact player at nose tackle. Mark Stoops signed one in Marquan McCall. McCall was considered one of the Midwest’s top players and has the ability to play along the defensive line or at offensive guard. He plays immediately if he stays at nose tackle. He could play immediately regardless of position.
— Davoan Hawkins is my guy in this class. Can’t say enough good about his motor and extremely high ceiling level. He projects at defensive tackle, but could play defensive end if necessary. A redshirt year of strength and weight gains would significantly benefit both Hawkins and the program.
— There’s always one. Qua Mahone was an unnoticed, multi-sport defensive lineman from a small high school in Georgia. Sound familiar? Should, we were saying the same about UK’s starting DE TJ Carter a couple years ago. Other programs followed after Kentucky offered, but Mahone inked in December. Most likely a redshirt in his future. I’ll be fascinated to watch Qua’s development.
— The door is always open for defensive linemen. This position group differentiates the SEC’s hierarchy. Defensive line falls in both categories from above: “Best Available” and “Position of Need”.
We’re projecting Asthan Pierre as a linebacker for the purposes of this post. Pierre played several positions in high school and is an elite athlete. Kentucky has signed 2 linebackers and has an emphasis on adding to this position group.
— Four-star LB Deandre Square comes from a national powerhouse Cass Tech High School. Square was a two-way player and projects to linebacker. Much like Hawkins, Square’s motor and ceiling are impressive. I’m fascinated to monitor weight and strength gains. Square’s signature was significant on many levels.
— Pierre chose UK over Oklahoma and a bunch of others. At 6’3, 200-pounds; a redshirt season with the strength and conditioning staff plus additional positional instruction would serve all parties well. Plus, he’s athletic enough to play defensive back and will eventually star on special teams.
— No secret about it. Vince Marrow is still chasing Xavier Peters (UK commit) and Chris Oats. Oats and Peters are both dynamic and fit with the categories of “Best Available” and “Position of Need.”
SPECIAL TEAM SIGNEES
— Special teams coordinator Dean Hood filled the needs of the program by signing two instant impact performers in Max Duffy and Chance Poore.
— Duffy was rated the #1 punter in the Class by Ray Guy’s ProKicker.com. Poore was also rated the #1 punter/kicker in the 2018 Class by ProKicker.com.
— No additional needs.
Position of Need or Best Available? Now you can debate which position groups match these descriptions.
Football never ends.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 21st, 2018 @ 9:00pm
We are just a few weeks from college football’s second National Signing Day on February 7, and with four scholarships remaining, the Kentucky Wildcats have the opportunity to finish the class of 2018 strong.
Two of the most crucial pieces remaining for the Cats are four-star commitment Xavier Peters and four-star outside linebacker Chris Oats, but questions surrounding their recruitments have been a worry for UK fans.
Peters has been committed to Kentucky since July of last year, but after failing to sign during the early period, and recent scheduled visits to Florida, Florida State, and Miami, it looked like a decommitment was inevitable.
For Oats, a Cincinnati, Ohio native, there was a time Kentucky seemed like the consensus favorite in his recruitment. KSR reported just a week ago that UK safety Mike Edwards was actively recruiting Oats to Kentucky, and Oats was extremely interested in playing with the fellow Winton Woods product.
After Ohio State confirmed Oats as a “take” for the Buckeyes this week, and contact heated up between both parties, many felt the talented four-star would play for the local powerhouse school.
According to Ohio recruiting analyst and insider Bill Greene, however, Kentucky is still in great shape with both prospects.
“I think Kentucky is in really good shape to sign (Peters),” Greene told Derek Terry of the Cats Pause. “If there is a threat then it’s definitely Florida. I think (Florida State and Miami) are just window dressing.”
Greene believes Peters’ relationship with Kentucky commitments also plays in UK’s favor.
“I think he has better relationships with the kids in the Kentucky program. There’s a lot of guys on that roster he knows and guys coming in with him that he knows,” he said.
As for Oats, there’s always pressure for recruits from Ohio with offers from OSU to become Buckeyes, but his relationship with Kentucky assistant Vince Marrow may win out in the end.
“I just did an interview with Chris earlier this week where he called that relationship like a father-son relationship and talked about how much he trusted Coach Marrow,” Greene said. “Just going off past history I think (Ohio State) can clip him, but if he does go ahead and sign with Kentucky that would not shock me at all because of the relationship he has with Coach Marrow.”
Getting one or both of these guys to sign in February would be massive.
Bring em on home, Stoops.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 21st, 2018 @ 7:00pm
How about some good news to close out your weekend?
2018 three-star WR LiAllen Dailey has committed to KENTUCKY!
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver out of Pinson, AL chose the Wildcats over Louisville, Arkansas State, and Toledo, among others.
Dailey received an offer from Kentucky on January 9, and scheduled an official visit to Lexington for this weekend soon after.
After checking out campus since Friday afternoon, Dailey decided the bluegrass was home.
Here was the announcement:
— LiAllen Dailey?????? (@Ymm_Allen9) January 21, 2018
Dailey finished with 80 receptions for 1,441 yards and 23 touchdowns for Pinson Valley this past year, leading the team to a state championship in the process.
Rivals.com lists the newest Wildcat as the No. 94 wide receiver in the nation.
Watch his senior highlight tape below:
Welcome home, LiAllen!
As the Kentucky basketball team receives ESPN’s brightest spotlight, Mark Stoops is giving the Kentucky football spotlight to a handful of recruits.
As of now, we know four 2018 recruits who will be taking official visits. There’s a chance that number may grow. We know with certainty that the official visitors will be joined by underclassmen, like Wandale Robinson, who reportedly hosted Stoops today at Western Hills High School. Like Stoops, we’ll save the spotlight for Juniors at a later date (the 24th of February is UK’s tentatively planned Junior Day) and focus on the visitors who could sign with UK on the first Wednesday of February.
The most important prospect in town, the three-star running back has arguably been the most talked about recruit over the last two weeks. Is it mostly because of his badass last name? Probably, but he has the skills to back it up. The Cats need to put on a good show to keep the nation’s No. 29 running back away from Auburn.
A year ago the 6’8″ 340-pound offensive tackle was protecting Mac Jones at The Bolles School in Jacksonville. Now he’s committed to play for Mike Leach at Washington State. Will this weekend’s visit convince him otherwise? Stay tuned.
The UK baseball signee recently entered the football team’s radar. After hosting Matt House, Josh Edwards reports that Flowers postponed a pre-planned official visit to Tennessee to come to Kentucky this weekend. A guy who reentered the football field for the first in four years this past fall, in order for Nick Mingione to keep a potential star at shortstop, he’ll need some help from Stoops.
Kentucky has taken the lead for the three-star wide receiver after the Cats awarded the Alabama native his first SEC scholarship offer. A 6’3″ 200-pound target, UofL, Arkansas State and Toledo have also offered. He also received some interest from Miss. State, Memphis and Auburn before Kentucky entered the picture.
By Drew Franklin on ©January 18th, 2018 @ 10:45am
Kentucky’s top priority between now and National Signing Day is to keep Xavier Peters on board until he puts his John Hancock on the paper. They had hoped to get the four-star linebacker’s signature in December, but he elected to hold off until February (although he insists he remains committed). Peters was the only UK commit to pass up the opportunity to sign in the early signing period.
Things seem to be going well in Operation Keep Peters Committed as February gets closer, but the fight is going to get a little tougher now that Peters has scheduled two new visits to elite programs.
He recently added trips to Florida State and Miami, on top of his upcoming trip to Florida, this coming weekend.
The Miami visit is set for the weekend of January 27, only a week and a half before Signing Day, per Mike Dyer of WCPO Cincinnati.
Football recruiting is such a grind.