Football Recruiting News
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 06th, 2019 @ 1:37pm
Well, this one hurts. Four-star cornerback Jay Ward just committed to LSU over Kentucky, Texas A&M, and Florida State.
Ward actually committed to Kentucky last summer, but reopened his recruitment after going to an LSU home game in the fall. Ward told Rivals’ Chad Simmons he was planning on picking Kentucky yesterday, but had a last minute change of heart.
“I chose LSU,” said Ward. “It was them, Florida State and Kentucky. I told coach today. I was confused, I was torn and I just started thinking more about LSU late last night.”
Ouch. We’ll hear from Mark Stoops at his Signing Day press conference in about 25 minutes.
By Nick Roush on ©February 06th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
@MJDevonshireJrKentucky’s first National Signing Day addition is a four-star cornerback from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, but MJ Devonshire can do so much more than cover wide receivers.
Mark Stoops joined Kentucky Sports Radio this morning to talk about the Cats’ new addition to the 2019 class that can do just about everything.
“He’s a versatile guy,” Stoops said. “He can play receiver, he can play corner, punt return, kick return. He’s got great ball skills, great top-end speed and he’s long. He’s a big guy, all of six-foot now, so he’s a big guy, gonna get even bigger as the year’s go on. We’re excited about him.”
In his final high school season, Devonshire picked off eight passes and returned eight punts for touchdowns. Pennsylvania’s 3-A Player of the Year finished the season with 24 total touchdowns.
“That’s a good addition to our program this morning. We’re excited about another tall, rangy corner from Aliquippa. It’s nice to branch into that state a little bit, get into PA,” said Stoops.
Shortly after Devonshire’s signing ceremony in the Cats’ new recruiting territory, the high school senior told Rivals he picked Kentucky because he felt comfortable in Lexington. He knew shortly after his official visit that UK would be his future destination, in part because of Stoops’ recent success.
“It’s exciting because they’re turning the program around,” MJ said. “Last year they had a 10-win season, beating Penn State in the Citrus Bowl and making a New Year’s Day Bowl. Making a bowl game like that — that’s a big thing. Playing in bowl games like that is the next step to a National Championship.”
After a victory over Penn State, Kentucky’s first commitment is from the state of Pennsylvania. Coincidence? I think not.
Stoops will hop back on the mic for a press conference at 2:00 pm that you can watch LIVE on KSR.
By Nick Roush on ©February 06th, 2019 @ 11:22am
Mark Stoops has already received one fax from a four-star prospect on National Signing Day. Before the day is over the Cats could add more, but the decisions will go down to the wire.
“Honestly, I don’t know at this point. I got a couple scholarships out there. We’d like to add one to two more this morning. That’s all we have room for,” Kentucky’s head coach said on KSR this morning.
The “one or two” Stoops is referring to are wide receiver Devonta Lee and defensive back Jay Ward. While Lee was always perceived as a toss-up at best for Kentucky, the Cats were locked into Ward entering NSD. Some late breaking developments have made Stoops and Vince Marrow’s job more difficult.
Ward initially de-committed from Kentucky this fall after attending an LSU game at Death Valley. UK regained all of that ground, but this morning LSU is gaining steam. The Tigers missed on one cornerback when Christian Williams flipped from Alabama to Miami. Now LSU has turned to Ward to fill that vacancy. It will be a fight to the finish between Kentucky and LSU.
By Nick Roush on ©February 06th, 2019 @ 9:10am
Kentucky’s secondary just got more talented. MJ Devonshire has committed to Kentucky over Pitt, West Virginia and Ohio State. He made the announcement in a NSD ceremony at his school.
A four-star recruit by Rivals, the No. 32 cornerback in America was the 3A Player of the Year in the state of Pennsylvania. The Aliquippa native had eight interceptions and eight punt return touchdowns, one shy of the national record. Devonshire also played offense, scoring 24 touchdowns as a running back and wide receiver. Each scored averaged 42.2 yards per play.
|Marlin “MJ” Devonshire
Cornerback | 5-11 | 170 lbs.
Aliquippa, PA | Aliquippa
|ESPN||72 ATH | 12 KY||Top247||63 CB | 14 PA|
|Rivals||32 CB | 6 PA||247 Comp.||50 CB | 9 PA|
Vince Marrow found this gem later in the recruiting process, just an hour southeast of Youngstown, Ohio. Marrow and Mark Stoops’ connection to the area played a part in MJ’s recruitment, as well as his connection to John Calipari.
The son of a coach, Devonshire is a tactician with all of the tools to be an impact player in the SEC.
By Nick Roush on ©February 06th, 2019 @ 9:00am
Between National Signing Day and the fallout from UK’s win over South Carolina, it’s going to be a busy morning around the Big Blue Nation. There’s no time to waste. Let’s get right to it.
Kentucky Rolled South Carolina
And it wasn’t ever really close. The Gamecocks played a physical brand of basketball, forcing Reid Travis to take an IV after the game, but it did not produce points. Kentucky closed the first half on a 17-4 run and never looked back, beating the Cocks 76-48.
The Real MVP came from an unexpected source. As Nick Richards combatted foul trouble and Travis slogged through a rock-fight with Chris Silva, E.J. Montgomery starred. The freshman embraced the opportunity to get his first career double-double. Montgomery posted career highs in points (11) and rebounds (13).
“He’s starting to come around,” John Calipari said after the game. “This was a great game for him to prove it against a really physical team, that they’re going to get body-to-body on you. He was able to still get it done.”
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 6, 2019
Ugh Oh, Ashton
After an excellent month of basketball in January, Hagans has struggled since the calendar flipped to February. After a so-so performance at Florida, the UK point guard turned it over six times in the first half against South Carolina.
“His decisions weren’t good,” said Calipari. “But in the second half, he got a better feel for it and had a better flow of it and he made better decisions. He had no assists and six turnovers at half. He had four assists and no turnovers in the second half, which is why the score was what it was.”
Joe and Smooth Return
Two of KSR’s favorites from the pre-Calipari era, Joe Crawford and Ramel “Smooth” Bradley, were the “Y” last night at Rupp Arena.
For more photos from last night’s win, check out Dr. Mike’s Facebook album.
Following the win, the UK basketball team returned to the Rupp Arena court to meet with Special Olympic athletes from around Kentucky.
“It was great, I love doing things like that,” Baker said. “Jonny (David) told us right after the game that we were going to come back to the court and take pictures with them. That’s part of the reason we came here, to do things like that.”
On the other side, the Kentucky football team is playing their part to benefit Special Olympics. Mark Stoops leapt into the ice tub at the Joe Craft FTC with athlete Morgan Turner to promote Saturday’s Polar Plunge at Lexington’s Texas Roadhouse on Richmond Rd. Visit Stoopsplunge.com to give these athletes an opportunity to participate in Special Olympics.
The Final Four
After signing 21 players in the Early Signing Period, Kentucky focused its recruiting efforts on four four-star recruits: wide receiver Devonta Lee and three defensive backs, MJ Devonshire, Jay Ward and Jammie Robinson.
The secondary was a priority following the departure of Kentucky’s top five defensive backs. Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow expect to fill those vacancies with a few more top 30 cornerbacks. Devonshire is a physical, yet versatile athlete from Aliquippa that could be dangerous in the nickel. Ward is lengthy cover corner from the state of Georgia. Robinson’s status remains up in the air for a few more hours, but most believe he’ll sign with South Carolina.
To make NSD an overwhelming success, Devonta Lee needs to leave the state of Louisiana. That’s much easier said than done. While most recruiting analysts from the area believe he’ll play for his home state school, folks close to Kentucky’s program believe the Big Blue is still a possibility for Lee. It’s a game of “wait and see” for Lee, who would make an immediate impact at wide receiver next fall for Kentucky.
Devonshire and Ward could announce at any moment, but the rest have a more set schedule.
- 1:45 — Devonta Lee announces on ESPN NSD Special.
- 2:00 — Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow’s NSD Press Conference.
- ~2:00 — Jammie Robinson announcement on Instagram Live.
The First NSD Signing
Australian kickers are all the rage in college football. Manny Diaz went to Australia and found a person that in no way shape or form resembles a kicker. You can’t convince me Louis Hedley is a kicker.
The U is Back.
By Nick Roush on ©February 04th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
Time flies when you’re having fun. Don’t look now, but National Signing Day is only two days away.
The event has lost its luster over the last two years since the creation of the Early Signing Period. Kentucky has benefitted from the addition, but the timing (in the middle of bowl season just before Christmas) does not attract as much attention.
Last year Kentucky picked up one signee on NSD, Chris Oats. After only one year, it’s safe to say that addition turned out pretty well. This year Kentucky will pick up more than one four-star recruit. The only question is who.
What will Devonta Lee Do?
The biggest name on the board for most fans, the four-star outside wide receiver officially visited LSU over the weekend. Since then, all of the LSU recruiting analysts confirmed their belief that he will stay in the bayou to be a home state hero.
Kentucky has lost all of the buzz from his official visit, but I’m not giving up hope until Lee signs on the dotted line. Kentucky’s coaches left an in-home visit last week feeling good about their chances to get the impact receiver. I’ve learned a lesson in the past: never doubt the Big Dog. Until Wednesday I’ll lean on another lesson my mother taught me: prepare for the worst, but hope for the best.
Lee’s decision will air on ESPN’s Signing Day Special at 2:00 ET.
Two Four-Star Additions
UK’s three other four-star targets are all defensive backs. I think Kentucky will get two commitments at a position of need on NSD.
The Pitt recruiting people were once optimistic about their chances with MJ Devonshire. Now UK has all of that optimism, especially after he opted not to visit West Virginia over the weekend. Another elite corner, Jay Ward, officially visited Florida State over the weekend.
“The trip went great,” Ward told 247. “It was way better than I thought it would be.”
Even though the Seminoles got to make the last impression, I don’t think it’s enough to pull Ward away from recommitting to UK.
Kentucky will be a finalist for Jammie Robinson when he announces his decision Wednesday afternoon. All of the momentum is trending toward South Carolina, but the folks around UK still believe they have a 50-50 shot. Last I checked, those are pretty good chances. The safe bet is that MJ and Ward will be Wildcats this Wednesday.
Kentucky will play Ohio in 2024
Which begs the question, will Stoops still be at UK in five years? It would be his 12th season in Lexington, making him the longest tenured coach in school history. To use one of my favorite football cliches, if he has not yet out-kicked his coverage and moved to greener pastures, the program should be in excellent shape.
UK played Ohio in Stoops’ second year, defeating the Bobcats 20-3 in 2014, avenging the embarrassing 2004 loss at Commonwealth Stadium. At least they looked good in that loss.
JP’s on Today
The Kentucky defensive end’s story has been shared on quite a few platforms. Now Josh Paschal’s victory over cancer is a cautionary tale told by Today. The health feature advises people to do what Josh did and regularly check your skin for abnormalities, even on places that never see the sun like the bottom of your foot. Melanoma is rare, but early detection can save a life.
Remember Julian Edelman?
I’m sure you know the bearded Super Bowl MVP’s name now, but do you remember that time he played at Commonwealth Stadium? Kent State’s quarterback caught the Cats off guard in the second game of the 2007 season. The dual-threat quarterback helped the Golden Flashes out-gain UK in the first half 298-196. A 14-14 game at half, Kentucky eventually woke up to win 56-20. Edelman finished with 135 rushing yards, 129 passing and a touchdown.
The UK Specialists are Bringing ALL of It.
— Kentucky Specialists (@UK_Specialists) February 4, 2019
Which brings me to the final chapter of the MNF Notebook…
Power Ranking UK Football Super Bowl Commercials
The Super Bowl did not give us the points and prop bets we wanted to see, but it did give us another excellent Kentucky football commercial. A tradition that began just a year after Mark Stoops became the Cats’ head coach, the folks at KyWildcatsTV always bring their A-game. Some are better than others, but which is the best of the best?
5. 2015: I’m Not With You
The second Super Bowl commercial missed the mark. There were great intentions, but they missed one key element: the voice over. The dramatic prose pulls you in, and this one didn’t have any of it. It also had some weird animation on the highlights. This one is dead last and it’s not even close.
4. 2017: Let’s Go to Work
The only commercial longer than a minute, this ad essentially served as a showcase for the new football facility. It’s fine, but it’s mostly a workout montage. It does feature cameos from a pair of KSR Football Podcasters and one excellent line from Darius West that needs more context: “and come back stronger.”
3. 2014: Why Not?
The elements in the commercial are fantastic and Stoops’ script is absolutely incredible. At the time, it was hard to believe that this beautiful hype train could ever be derailed. Unfortunately, most of it was only hype. Of the seven Early Enrollees featured, four transferred. A back injury prevented Drew Barker’s career from ever taking off. The only significant contributors were the JUCOs, A.J. Stamps and C.J. “Poop” Johnson.
2. Benny Snell in the Snow
I initially ranked this as the best Super Bowl commercial. Seeing the Cats in Kroger Field in the snow in 4K is breathtaking. It also began with a subtle shot from Benny at the Music City Bowl officials who prematurely tossed him out of the game in 2017. There’s one reason it isn’t No. 1: there isn’t an exclamation point in the finale, only a breath of cold air from Snell.
1. Can I get a Hell Yeah?
Nobody is better at creating controlled chaos than Kash Daniel. His pregame speeches will either give you chills or force you to run through a wall. Not only does he bring that energy in the 2019 commercial, he stays on a message that does not even sound scripted.
While going through old commercials, you’ll notice many of the same faces. They’re all gone. They must replace legends. After Kash asked, “What’s next?” I’m confident these Cats can do just that.
208 days till football season.
By Nick Roush on ©February 02nd, 2019 @ 2:00pm
The 2019 football recruiting season is winding down. Ahead of Wednesday’s National Signing Day, Kentucky coaches conducted in-home visits this week to fill the final vacancies. Here’s where they stand.
Devonta Lee — Vince Marrow and Michael Smith were in Louisiana Thursday to see the Top 150 wide receiver prior to his official visit to LSU. After Lee was a no-show in Lexington last weekend, many feared the Cats were out of the picture. That’s not the case. I’ve been told the folks around UK “feel really good” about Lee heading down the stretch.
Obviously, things can change over the weekend. At this point, Lee’s recruitment will most certainly be a battle to the finish and there’s a good chance Kentucky pulls off the upset by convincing Lee to leave his home state.
Jay Ward — Matt House invested into the four-star cornerback early and often. A one-time commit, he decided to look round late in the fall as LSU applied pressure. About a month ago, the Big Dog entered the picture to help Ward remember why he initially fell in love with UK. After an official visit to Lexington last weekend and an in-home visit Thursday, the Cats are primed to pounce on National Signing Day. Kentucky’s main competition is Florida State, where Ward is taking his final official visit this weekend.
Jammie Robinson — The other four-star Georgia cornerback UK is recruiting is much further removed from his official visit. The forecast for Robinson looked good immediately after, but has since swayed toward South Carolina.
Over the last week five Crystal Ball picks have been logged for the Gamecocks, yet at the Joe Craft Football Training Center, most believe UK still has a 50-50 chance to land Robinson. We’ll learn Wednesday at 2:00 if it’s UK, South Carolina, Tennessee or Auburn.
MJ Devonshire — Kentucky could pull an all-time flex by picking up a four-star cornerback in the eleventh hour. Pitt put in plenty of early work to prevent the Aliquippa native from leaving the state of Pennsylvania. It might not be enough to overcome the Big Dog’s late push. Devonshire’s official visit went incredibly well, and not just because his family saw Coach Cal. Following an in-home visit this week, Kentucky is in excellent position to land a commitment on National Signing Day.
Predictions — Last year the Cats picked up Chris Oats on NSD. This year I have a feeling Kentucky will get at least two commitments by February 6. Even after that, the class will not be complete. The mysterious transfer portal and the two Iowa JUCO commits, JaVonte Richardson and Eli James, could produce a few more roster additions by the end of the spring semester.
By Nick Roush on ©January 30th, 2019 @ 7:55pm
Less than a week away from National Signing Day, Kentucky football coaches are hitting the road to see a pair of four-star recruits in the 2019 class.
KSR has learned that UK coaches will have in-home visits Thursday with wide receiver Devonta Lee and cornerback Jay Ward.
The trip to Louisiana is just a few days after Lee opted to remain home last weekend, instead of making the drive to Lexington for an unofficial visit. The Cats had plenty of momentum in his recruitment following an official visit in December. Tomorrow is UK’s last chance to captivate the Top 200 athlete before he officially visits LSU this weekend.
Kentucky coaches will be in Moultrie, Georgia to visit Jay Ward for the second time in ten days. In-between in-home visits, Ward canceled a trip to Florida State to officially visit Kentucky over the weekend.
— JAY WARD ? (@JWARD_4) January 27, 2019
LSU is considered Kentucky’s top competition for each recruit. Lee has received the pitch to be a “home state hero,” while Ward’s Death Valley experience led him to de-commit from UK in November. Kentucky is close to securing another commitment from Ward, but they’ll have to bring their A-game to convince Lee to leave his home state.
One of Mark Stoops’ final remaining football recruiting targets in the 2019 class grew up six hours away from Lexington, but has a unique connection to the University of Kentucky.
MJ Devonshire made the trek to Lexington last weekend for an official visit. In the Rupp Arena stands for the Cats’ victory over Kansas, the four-star cornerback got the chance to meet John Calipari after the game. It’s not the first, nor will it be the last time Coach Cal poses for a photo with one of Stoops’ most prized recruits, however, this time Calipari was much more familiar with the football family.
— Savage 2.0 (@Mjdevonshirejr) January 27, 2019
Calipari grew up in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, about 20 minutes south of Devonshire’s hometown of Aliquippa. In the mid-70s Calipari played high school basketball with MJ’s uncle, his mother’s brother.
Since Calipari’s reunion with Devonshire’s mother, Stoops has been to Pennsylvania to visit MJ and his family. Their connection to Calipari will not be what seals the deal for Kentucky, but one week away from National Signing Day sources close to the program like where UK stands with the four-star cornerback.
Just a few days after hosting MJ Devonshire for an official visit in Lexington, Mark Stoops returned the favor by visiting the four-star cornerback in his hometown of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.
Stoops was accompanied by defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale, who has taken the lead in Devonshire’s recruitment alongside Vince Marrow. Just like the visit to Lexington, reports from the Tuesday afternoon talk were positive. There was one thing that stood out in Josh Edwards’ conversation with class of 2019 defensive back.
Devonshire’s Western Pennsylvania hometown is not far from two of his finalists, Pitt and West Virginia. It’s also only an hour away from Youngstown, Ohio, the hometown of Stoops, Marrow and Clinkscale.
“Clinkscale has been recruiting me for awhile so we have a relationship. We just talk. We have been building a relationship and getting to know each other more every time we talk and how much we relate with him being from Youngstown and me being from Aliquippa,” Devonshire said. “Marrow is a really cool guy. Like I said with coach Clink, with him being from Youngstown, when I first met him, we connected. Knowing him and knowing where he has been from and how it is at Aliquippa, that’s really cool.”
After Lynn Bowden’s departure, Kentucky will not have a Youngstown connection on the roster. Aliquippa is close enough.
Maryland is also in the mix for Devonshire. He will announce his decision on National Signing Day. One week away from the announcement, Kentucky is in a good position with the four-star cornerback.
KSR’s Monday Night Football Notebook: Does anybody love anything more than Mike Edwards loves Skyline Chili?
By Nick Roush on ©January 28th, 2019 @ 9:45pm
Congrats! You survived a case of the Mondays, a perilous condition that can only be compared to fight with a polar vortex.
While you stock up on firewood and turn up the furnace, allow me to introduce a new Monday night feature: KSR’s Monday Night Football Notebook. (Creative name, right?) Over the next few months, I’ll be holding down the fort on Monday nights, giving me the opportunity to dish on whatever football topics are on my mind. With only one more football game remaining in the 2018-19 football season, I’ll do what I can to make sure this weekly bit satisfies your football cravings.
Nine days away from National Signing Day, the first MNF Notebook will feature a few recruiting nuggets and sprinkle in some Senior Bowl stuff. Enjoy.
No Devonta Lee?
I was surprised to hear Devonta Lee was not in the Rupp Arena stands for Saturday night’s game against Kansas, especially after receiving a Friday afternoon text from Drew Franklin: “Just ran into Devonta Lee.” It turns out Scoop Franklin ran into the wrong guy.
Lee did not make the long 11-hour drive from Louisiana to Lexington because it’s an 11-hour drive from Louisiana to Lexington and he was too busy dunking on dudes.
— Troy Wyre Jr (@mvp_troyy) January 27, 2019
His absence does not mean the Cats are out of the hunt, but it would have been nice to get Lee on campus one more time before National Signing Day. Ultimately, much of Lee’s decision will weigh on his official visit to LSU this weekend.
Cornerbacks Trending Toward UK
Lee did not make the trip, but two four-star cornerbacks did. Kentucky was a little late to the MJ Devonshire party, but they’re in a great spot for the four-star prospect from Aliquippa, Pa. Mark Stoops is expected to follow up with an in-home visit this week to convince Devonshire to commit to UK over Pitt and Neal Brown’s West Virginia Mountaineers.
If you can read between the lines, Jay Ward’s decision to ditch a visit to Florida State to officially visit UK is fantastic news. But wait, THERE’S MORE! Steve Wiltfong logged a Crystal Ball pick for Ward to UK. The 247 Sports guy rarely misses. I don’t have a Crystal Ball, but if I did, I would see Ward and Devonshire in Kentucky blue.
Kentucky football’s Junior Day is an annual reminder that I’m getting old. Most of the visitors this weekend were from the 2020 class, which means they were born after 9/11. Yikes.
I digress. As usual, the guest list was too long for one post (although Jack Pilgrim did a pretty good job compiling the best of the best). One guest stands out above the rest, Justin Rogers. For those who are reading that name for the first time, allow me to explain his significance.
When Michigan natives DeAndre Square and Marquan McCall were being recruited to Kentucky, Steve Clinkscale and Vince Marrow included Rogers. When the two Wildcats received their initial offers, so did Rogers, even though he was two years younger. This year you saw the two Michigan men make plays as true freshman; Square was even named All-SEC Freshman. Well, Rogers is a class ahead of the two. That’s not a knock on Square and McCall. It’s a compliment to Rogers.
A former teammate of McCall’s at Oak Park High School in Detroit, Rogers is one of the 20 best high school football players in America, regardless of class. Like McCall, he started on the offensive line. Now when he attends All-American camps, he takes turns busting through blockers as a defensive lineman.
Kentucky has never recruited a player as dominant as Rogers. When UK initially offered, it was a nice gesture, but I questioned its significance. “Of course they offered him, everybody will.” Since the Cats were the first to offer, they have not lost momentum. Rogers has returned to campus for multiple visits, including this past Saturday. It’s a long shot that UK lands Rogers and his commitment is a long way away, but if Marrow was able to convince one Michigan offensive lineman to come to UK to play defense, he can do it again.
Detroit boys ?…. pic.twitter.com/xgkSCP7fqa
— Justin Rogers (@AllAmerican52JR) January 27, 2019
This weekend Rogers posed for a pic with his former teammate, McCall (right), The guy with him in the left picture, Enzo Jennings, is pretty great too. See for yourself.
The first MNF Notebook’s namesake is dedicate to the Kentucky Badger. Mike Edwards’ love for Skyline Chili is well-known, but I don’t think anyone knew just how crazy he is for the concoction. In a piece for the Bengals’ website, Rock Oliver explained the Cincinnati native’s obsession.
“He loves Skyline,” Oliver confirmed the other day. “Went there every day for like the first month. Even when it was being built he would stop by to check on the construction. I told him, ‘Mike, I like Skyline as much as the next guy, but I don’t make sure the guy is hammering in the nails.’”
Mike may want to keep that under wraps. Some NFL scouts might see “obsessed with Skyline” as a red flag in the evaluation process.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 27th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
All of the talk has been about Kentucky basketball’s massive victory over Kansas this weekend, but the UK football team also put themselves in position to secure some pretty significant victories, as well.
With campus buzzing, Mark Stoops and the Kentucky football program hosted some of the best high school talent in the nation for Junior Day. And by the looks of things, things went extremely well and Kentucky has some solid momentum with numerous elite prospects.
The recruits in attendance were able to tour all of the UK facilities (including Kroger Field), try on all of Kentucky’s uniform combinations, and cap things off with a trip to Rupp Arena to see the Cats take on the Jayhawks in easily the rowdiest game of the basketball season.
We’ll dive into the specifics and uniform pictures in a second, but one of the biggest takeaways came during that Kentucky-Kansas game and the players in attendance to see it.
While getting some warmup footage on the floor beforehand, I noticed the UK football coaches find their way into the venue with the recruits lined up behind. Upwards of 60 prospects piled in and were guided to their seats, with plenty of those individuals being big-name four and five-star talent. I knew the projected visitor list was impressive, but just on quick glance it was apparent UK hit some home runs.
Noticeably absent from the group, however? Kentucky four-star wide receiver target Devonta Lee.
Late last week, Rivals’ Sam Spiegelman reported Lee was set to visit this weekend with Kentucky quarterback signee Amani Gilmore, but things got a bit unclear late Friday following his high school basketball game. After the visit was set and ready to go, there are rumors that LSU came in for an in-home visit in an attempt to dissuade him from making the trip to Lexington.
However the timeline unfolded, the 740-mile, 11-hour trip from Amite, LA to Lexington couldn’t come to fruition for the elite wideout. Gilmore did end up making it to campus for the visit, but his star receiver teammate did not.
Beyond the not-so-great news with Lee, everything else was excellent for the Wildcats and their position with some of the best recruits in the nation.
Let’s take a look at some of the big-name visitors:
The biggest (literally) on campus was 2020 five-star top-15 prospect Justin Rogers, who tweeted “Kentucky was the first to offer” with a picture of him sporting the blue and white this morning.
He was there with his teammate Enzo Jennings, a four-star cornerback and top-100 prospect in the class of 2020.
Kentucky was the first to offer ? pic.twitter.com/fZMa0S6mco
— Justin Rogers (@AllAmerican52JR) January 27, 2019
For those keeping track at home, each of those players have raked in a total of 53 scholarship offers from every major school in the nation, and they found their way to Lexington, KY for an unofficial visit in January. That in itself is impressive.
Beyond Rogers and Jennings, the elite talent continues, with several of those individuals being in the class of 2019.
Jay Ward, a four-star cornerback out of Moultrie, GA, is another prospect the Wildcats are trying to add before Signing Day in a little over a week.
He said afterward that he had a good time in Lexington, posting a few pictures in Kentucky’s anthracite uniforms.
— JAY WARD ? (@JWARD_4) January 27, 2019
Aliquippa, PA product MJ Devonshire, yet another four-star defensive back, was in town on an official visit UK this weekend.
The 5-foot-11, top-30 cornerback’s mother posted an image of a cake they received from the school during their time in Lexington.
— Terrie Tipper-Devonshire (@CCoterrie) January 25, 2019
He also got to hang out with Kentucky basketball head coach John Calipari:
— Savage 2.0 (@Mjdevonshirejr) January 27, 2019
In a bit of a surprise, Kentucky also hosted 2019 four-star kicker/punter Billy McConnell.
— Billy McConnell (@B__mac20) January 27, 2019
When it comes to the class of 2020, Kentucky is hosting some of the most talented players in America.
As Nick Roush told you last week, Curtis Jacobs (four-star wide receiver) and Blake Corum (four-star, top-20 running back) made the trip down from Maryland. Cesar Reyes, a four-star, top-200 offensive tackle prospect out of Tampa, also made it to Lexington.
— TheGreat6? (@300_Sh0wtime) January 26, 2019
East St Louis teammates four-star safety Antonio Johnson and three-star athlete Lawaun Powell also seemed to have a great time sporting the Kentucky blue and white:
— Antonio (AJ) Johnson?? (@Antonio_johns0n) January 27, 2019
Three-star defensive tackle Armon Wallace out of St. Louis, MO did his best PJ Washington impression, flexing his muscles in the No. 55 jersey:
— Armon Wallace (@Armon_Wallace) January 27, 2019
Elsewhere, Ft. Lauderdale three-star offensive tackle Gerald Mincey also enjoyed his time in Lexington:
— GM? (@GeraldMincey) January 26, 2019
Four-star safety Quitman Kincaid out of Clarksville, TN said he appreciated the Kentucky coaching staff for having him:
— quitman_1 (@quitman15) January 27, 2019
Three-star slot wide receiver Xavier Restrepo out of St. Thomas Aquinas (FL) showed off the chrome dome with the white UK logo.
He has been seen as a Kentucky lean as of late:
— Xavier Restrepo (@XavierRestrepo1) January 26, 2019
Restrepo’s teammate, 2020 five-star wide receiver Marcus Rosemy, was also in attendance:
Team Go Get It, 7v7 (Varsity) “GoGetter” 2020 St. Thomas Aquinas (WR) Marcus Rosemy visits the University of Kentucky Wildcats #secfootball #gogetter #motivation
????Let’s Go Get It……!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/rPldHnDOno
— TEAMGOGETIT7v7 (@TEAMGOGETIT7v7) January 26, 2019
Stoops also made sure to bring in local talent.
Three-star defensive tackle prospect and Radcliff, KY native, Octavious Oxendine was in attendance. The North Hardin star also wins the award for coolest name in the history of college football recruiting.
Three-star running back Landen Bartleson, a Boyle County product, made it to Lexington, as well.
Izayah Cummings, a three-star wide receiver and Louisville Male product in the class of 2020, also made the trip:
— IC8? (@IzayahCummings) January 27, 2019
Lanell Carr, a three-star linebacker out of Saint Louis, said he “can’t wait to come back” to Lexington:
— Ñè??? (@Lanellcarr3) January 27, 2019
Three-star Dublin, GA linebacker Romello Height received an offer during his “great” Kentucky visit:
Having a great time at KENTUCKY on Junior day, With that being said I am blessed to receive a offer from The University Of Kentucky?????#GoWildcats? #BBN??@dcsirish @BVEvery @RecruitGeorgia @CoachDSanders @DublinIrishFB @Rivalsfbcamps @CoachWhiteFB pic.twitter.com/lGCS6RTG3P
— Romello Height (@height_romello) January 26, 2019
Dallas Walker, a three-star defensive end out of Smyrna, TN, was excited for his visit:
— Dallas Walker IV (@DallasWalkerIV) January 26, 2019
Ellenwood, GA product Alvin Williams, a three-star 6-foot-3 defensive end, “had a great time” in Lexington:
— Alvin Williams?? (@15Awill) January 26, 2019
Three-star safety Majon Wright, yet another Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale) standout:
— 2??™? (@WrightMajon) January 26, 2019
Offensive guard Ta’Chawn Brooks and defensive back Tyrik McDaniel out of South Carolina were in attendance, as were Tennessee natives Blake Hundley, Jason Eaton, and Derrell Bailey Jr.
Columbus wide receiver Bryan Davis was too:
— Bryan Davis (@Shineonedayyy) January 26, 2019
Indiana running back prospect Marion Lukes:
— marion lukes (@kid_lukes9) January 26, 2019
And just a few of the (many) 2021 prospects in attendance:
— Travion Ford ® ?#6 (@Tre_Got_Skills) January 26, 2019
— Broderick Wisecarver (@bwise9869) January 26, 2019
Lexington, Kentucky… I’m here baby ?????? @BuffanoUK
— Justin Wodtly (@JustinWodtly) January 26, 2019
Kentucky today ???
— Zavier Carter ? 17 (@ZavierCarter) January 26, 2019
Well done, Coach Stoops and company.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 26th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
At halftime of tonight’s Kentucky vs. Kansas game, Kash Daniel channeled Stone Cold Steve Austin while the football team was being honored for their Citrus Bowl win.
“If you’re down with the Citrus Bowl champs, gimme a HELL YEAH!” Kash said to the Rupp crowd. “We’ll be back raising hell next year, I promise you that.”
— Drew Franklin (@DrewFranklinKSR) January 27, 2019
The team brought the Citrus Bowl trophy, complete with fruit, onto the court with them:
With several important football recruits in the stands, including four-stars Devonta Lee, Jay Ward, and MJ Devonshire, what a smart move by UK. Devonshire, a top 30 defensive back from Pennsylvania, even got his pic with John Calipari afterwards:
— Savage 2.0 (@Mjdevonshirejr) January 27, 2019
On Monday, Nick will have the latest on these visits. Signing Day is less than two weeks away…
Before Kentucky football recruiting completely turns the page to the 2020 class, the Cats are entertaining a few talented 2019 prospects on a day typically devoted to underclassmen, UK Junior Day.
Two visitors are big surprises: four-star wide receiver Devonta Lee and four-star cornerback Jay Ward. The latter initially planned to visit Florida State this weekend, but Chad Simmons reports that Ward canceled that trip to officially visit UK a week earlier. The Cats could lock up a commitment with Ward this weekend.
They aren’t the only four-star 2019 recruits that could commit to UK before Signing Day. MJ Devonshire, another four-star defensive back, will officially visit UK this weekend. A top 30 cornerback from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, UK has made an impressive late move to enter the picture. Pitt, West Virginia, Ole Miss and Ohio State are also in contention for Devonshire’s services.
Kentucky this weekend ???
— Savage 2.0 (@Mjdevonshirejr) January 25, 2019
Two 2019 offensive linemen are also expected to be on campus. Cincinnati and Indiana were heavily recruiting Dayton Dunbar’s Jonathan Allen when Vince Marrow entered the picture. Renato Brown recently committed to Louisville, but Kentucky is not backing down from Brown.
In the 2020 class, Kentucky is hosting some of the most talented players in America.
Brad White is bringing a dynamic duo from Maryland to Lexington. Curtis Jacobs, a four-star wide receiver, will be at UK along with Blake Corum, a top 20 running back in the 2020 class. Cesar Reyes is another four-star recruit that will be in the mix this weekend. The offensive tackle from Tampa is considered the No. 199 player overall in the 2020 class.
Jake Pope is the latest recruit from perennial powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas to sign with UK. He could soon be joined by three-star slot receiver Xavier Restrepo. Another Ft. Lauderdale prospect is also expected to make the trip, offensive tackle Gerald Mincey. From other parts of the south, offensive guard Ta’Chawn Brooks and defensive back Tyrik McDaniel will be representing South Carolina. There will also be quite a large contingency from Tennessee. Blake Hundley, Jason Eaton and Derrell Bailey Jr. will earn their keep in the trenches.
This is just a small sample of who will be visit UK this weekend. It’s the Cats’ first step to reaping the recruiting rewards from a successful ten-win campaign.