Football Recruiting News
By Nick Roush on ©July 08th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
Hello, Big Blue Nation. Nice to see you, in spite of the circumstances. The Fourth of July has past. There’s no more European football, just hot, steamy 90-degree days for the foreseeable future. We must wait 54 days to see the start of the Kentucky football season. It’s going to be brutal, but I’m confident we can power through talking season, one that, like the weather, is off to a hot start.
Deep Fakes Strike College Football
One Twitter account is stirring the pot in the middle of the offseason. @CFBQuotes is a bad parody account that takes itself seriously. The maker of graphics intended to go viral, last week it produced a quote from Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal that was completely fabricated.
Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal was asked about the opener vs Auburn, & said that Auburn would be just another team in the PAC-12 and that they weren't worried about the matchup.
He also talked up his squad and claimed that his team was the fastest & strongest in the nation. pic.twitter.com/ZtgNAjDSY2
— College Football Quotes (@cfbquotes) June 30, 2019
After an immediate fiery response from each fanbase, the reporter refuted the quote and the Twitter account responded with some form of, “It was just a joke. Why is everyone so mad? haha”
After successfully stoking the fire, the account brought out the big guns by intervening in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. The account shared a graphic of a “deleted Tweet” from Wolverines QB Shea Patterson that appeared to call out his head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Upon first glance, it looks like Patterson intended for the Tweet to come from a burner account.
Did Michigan QB Shea Patterson mean to tweet this from his burner account? ?
Patterson referred to himself in 3rd person and threw shots at both Ohio State QB Justin Fields and Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh in a tweet response to a fan in a now-deleted tweet. pic.twitter.com/msdIba0Wix
— College Football Quotes (@cfbquotes) July 7, 2019
If you look closely, you can see signs of photoshopping in the Tweet near the underscore, as pointed out by Patterson, who avoided taking the typical “I was hacked” approach. Besides, if Patterson did accidentally Tweet the bulletin board material, surely another one of his 50,000 followers would have caught it.
College football fans go to great lengths to terrorize opposing fanbases. Some of it’s good natured rivalrying, while other times it’s downright cruel (see: Harvey Updyke). What makes this development strange is that it’s not one fanbase going after another. This account simply wants to get clicks, follows and create chaos during a slow part of the college football season. Some men just want watch the world burn.
(h/t Awful Announcing)
Official Visit Set
The last domino left from UK’s June football recruiting madness officially fell when Richie Leonard announced his commitment to Florida last Friday. Things will slow down as we near the season, but a few players will still trickle in before Stoops and Marrow host extravagant events on Kentucky football game days.
Ohio defensive back Rickey Hyatt Jr. told Rivals he has tentatively planned to officially visit Kentucky on the final weekend in July. A three-star safety from Benny Snell’s alma mater, Westerville Central, in the month of June the track star camped at nearby Ohio State and took an official visit to Michigan State. North Carolina and Cincinnati are also contenders. Pulling Hyatt away from Ohio State will be no small task.
Category: Ironic Urban Meyer Retirement Plans
Answer for $800: “What is a podcast on elite leadership, culture and behavior?”
The podcast is not satire. The Focus 3 podcast is a real thing that will debut this Wednesday. If there’s one person who needs to give lessons on how to create a culture where good behavior thrives, it’s the man who constructed the 2007 Florida Gators’ roster.
T.J. Carter: IT Expert
Kentucky’s 4 for 40 series is highlighting summer internships by the Wildcats. This one has got to be the most difficult to date. Dealing with IT issues at a bank? I can’t even get the KSR printer to work. Now we know who to call to get things back in order.
We caught up with senior defensive end @TjCarter_ who is interning at @centralbankKY. He is majoring in information communication technology with plans to one day be in the cyber security field. See how this summer internship is helping him accomplish his career goals.#4for40 pic.twitter.com/bZXDxVsZVs
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) July 8, 2019
I can almost see Hoover
Next week Hoover, Alabama is the center of the universe. The Wynfrey Hotel will be filled with Sunkist, Dr. Pepper, Belk mannequins, Paul Finebaum, the deep-voiced guy from Touchdown ALABAMA and dozens of sweaty fans screaming “ROLL TIDE!” Folks, that’s what I like to call paradise. Mark Stoops and the Wildcats will not be there till Thursday, but I’ll be there for every single second. As the great Bart Scott once said, “CAN’T WAIT!”
By Nick Roush on ©July 08th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
Before Jager Burton was a four-star prospect with a treasure trove of scholarship offers, the Lexington lineman was a Kentucky football camper.
In the summer of 2018, Jager (pronounced Jagger, as in Mick) had just finished his freshman year of high school football. He spent his day working out in front of UK coaches as a defensive lineman. It would be his last day on that side of the line of scrimmage.
Burton quickly caught UK offensive line coach John Schlarman’s eye. Once drills wound down, the former UK offensive guard pulled Burton aside and suggested a switch. Five months later, Kentucky became the first school to offer the talented hometown kid a scholarship.
Burton’s sensational sophomore season at offensive guard for Frederick Douglass High School did not go unnoticed. Now a four-star prospect by Rivals and the No. 6 offensive guard in the 2021 class, he has more than a dozen offers from the likes of Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State and Oregon. He’s acquired plenty of attention, but the rising junior has no plans to pick a school anytime soon.
“I honestly think about it, but I wouldn’t do it until before senior year at the earliest,” Burton told Larry Vaught during an appearance on the Leach Report. “I definitely don’t want to decommit. I don’t like how that looks I guess. Whenever I make a decision I want to be 100% sure that’s where I want to go and start getting other guys to go there.”
Things will begin to clear up this fall. As of now, players can only reach out to coaches, who cannot reciprocate until September 1. Once that stage of the recruitment begins, Burton will have a better idea of who is making him a priority.
Up until this point, UK’s campus is the only place Burton has visited more than once. Proximity certainly plays a factor. It also doesn’t hurt that he grew up cheering for the Cats, and surprisingly, Oregon. The extravagant uniforms caught Burton’s eye at an early age. They’ve also provided a cautionary tale on the recruiting trail. Luckily, one of his closest friends has already been through the recruiting process, future Clemson offensive tackle Walker Parks.
“I’ve heard people who committed to Oregon will commit there just for the uniforms,” Burton said. “He’s (Parks) helped me stay away from the hype stuff which is something me and him don’t really like. I mean, I really like it, but people get so absorbed taking pictures of the uniforms and posting them on Twitter and getting likes. He’s helped me stay away from that and keep doing the same stuff we were doing before it all happened.”
Burton attended a Clemson camp this summer with Parks and another one of their talented Douglass teammates, Dekel Crowdus. The incredibly fast 2021 wide receiver (4.34 40-yard dash, no big deal) has received just as much attention on the recruiting trail and the two have talked at length about playing together at the next level.
Much will happen between now and Burton’s decision day. As he sorts through all of the madness, only one thing is certain — he does not want to play for a loser. Luckily for Kentucky, things have changed quite a bit over the last seven years.
“Really what they’ve done, I think Kentucky will be able to change up their recruiting pitch a lot throughout the next three years as they keep improving and winning more games, it’s a lot easier to get players. I think that helped a lot with John Young, Andru Phillips, Jordan Watkins, Izayah, all those guys, Beau. I talk to those guys a lot.
“Being able to stay home and win games is really important. I don’t know about a lot of other people, but I hate losing, whatever it is. I don’t think I’d want to go somewhere and lose. Kentucky is not like that at all anymore. You have the opportunity to compete for pretty much everything you would to compete for in college football now, especially as the years progress. I think that’s really important and I think that is a big reason why they’ve gotten a ton more high-level recruits, four and five-stars, even Justin Rogers. I think that’s really cool to see being from here, still being a Kentucky fan. It’s cool to see the progression of the program from Joker to Stoops.”
Hear more from Burton’s discussion on the Leach Report below.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 06th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Bryce Mostella, a four-star defensive end out of Grand Rapids, MI in the class of 2020, announced his commitment to the 2019 Citrus Bowl runner-up Penn State Nittany Lions on Friday afternoon.
What relevance does this have to Kentucky football recruiting? Well, none really. Mostella did hold an offer from the Wildcats and UK’s go-to recruiting guru for Michigan recruits, Steven Clinkscale, was his primary recruiter, but Kentucky wasn’t seen as a serious candidate to land the talented pass-rusher.
The way he announced his school of choice, though, is what makes this important for the Big Blue Nation to see.
I promise it will blow your mind and/or freak you out. Likely both.
— Bryce Mostella (@BryceMostella) July 5, 2019
Between multiple conversations with himself in the dark, getting beaten up by himself, the paint, the dancing, and the five seconds of Mostella’s actual commitment, this thing is a true masterpiece.
Or a failure. I still haven’t decided.
After Kentucky snapped The Streak in The Swamp, a rivalry has developed on the recruiting front.
The Cats’ 2020 recruiting class started by investing in Florida. The first two commitments came in the trenches, offensive linemen Gerald Mincey and Richie Leonard. Once Dan Mullen caught wind of the move, he sprung into action.
Last night at 5:30, Mullen’s revenge came in the form of a commitment from Richie Leonard. Joining Mincey and defensive tackle Lamar Goods, all three of UK’s decommitments eventually flipped to Florida.
While Mullen was working on revenge, Kentucky acquired a verbal commitment from Samuel Anaele, a Top 100 recruit the tenth-ranked player in the Sunshine State. They also invested in another talented Florida recruit.
Saturday at 6:00, just 30 minutes after Leonard’s announcement, Morven Joseph reopened his recruitment.
— Mojo? (@MorvenJoseph) July 5, 2019
A three-star defensive lineman, Joseph committed to Florida in February. The No. 15 weak side defensive end in America according Rivals, Joseph unofficially visited UK in June. He also holds offers from Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and 20 other programs. Joseph most recently visited Tallahassee, but the Cats are still in play.
Was the timing of Joseph’s announcement just a coincidence, or was it a calculated move to knock the Gators down a few pegs? I’d like to think the latter.
For the third time in two months, a former UK commit has flipped to Florida.
Three-star offensive guard Richie Leonard announced he has committed to Florida over Kentucky, Florida State, Tennessee, Miami, Georgia Tech and UCF.
Leonard is the third former UK commit to flip to Florida, joining offensive lineman Gerald Mincey and defensive tackle Lamar Goods. They are the only three prospects who have decommitted from Kentucky.
Recruited by Darin Hinshaw, Leonard became one of the first commitments in the 2020 class last October. He remained firm in his commitment, visiting UK unofficially for the spring game, until Florida State and Florida got involved in late April. Even after officially visiting Lexington in June, it was not enough to convince the Cocoa, Fl. native to leave the Sunshine State.
Kentucky took down Dan Mullen at The Swamp last season, but this year he’s taken quite a few UK recruits.
Kentucky is a finalist for one of the best athletes in the Midwest.
Michael Drennen has narrowed his list of schools down to ten. Kentucky made the cut alongside Ohio State, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Notre Dame, Stanford and Arizona State.
— Mike Drennen II (@UhhMyNameDonut) July 4, 2019
You may be wondering why UK is still pursuing an all-purpose back. After all, the Cats already have four wide receiver and two running back commitments in the 2020 class. Mark Stoops will make room for Michael Drennen.
The No. 3 player in the state of Ohio is a consensus top five all-purpose back in America. A jack of all trades, the incredible athlete is the No. 158 player in America according to Rivals. He can excel out of the backfield or the slot and has the athleticism to contribute right away.
Shortly after releasing his top ten, Drennen told Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt he plans on officially visiting Kentucky this fall. The pitch UK coaches shared with him when he made unofficial trip to Lexington in June:
“It was just a good opportunity to chop it up with coaches and stay up on how much interest they have in me,” Drennen said. “They like me as a Lynn (Bowden). That’s their biggest pitch to me. They want to get me out in the open on screens, jet sweeps and stuff like that. That’s great. I have become very comfortable out in the open since my freshman year.”
Beau Allen, John Young and a handful of other commits have remained in close contact with Drennen throughout his recruitment. They’ll remain in his ear until he is finally ready to commit later in the recruiting calendar year.
Enjoy Drennen’s top plays from his third year at Dublin Coffman High School, Gunnar Hoak’s alma mater.
Late Monday night Samuel Anaele officially flipped his commitment from Miami to Kentucky. You are probably already well aware that he’s a talented edge rusher. Here are a few things you may not know about Anaele.
1. One of the Highest Ranked Commits Ever
Mark Stoops has picked up a few talented recruits over the years. Only two commitments have ever been ranked higher by Rivals than Anaele, the No. 5 defensive end and No. 96 player in America. Landon Young was No. 29 overall and one of Anaele’s future teammates on the defensive line, Justin Rogers, is ranked No. 12 overall.
If you prefer the 247 Sports rankings, Anaele is the tenth-ranked defensive end and No. 160 overall in the 2020 class. Even though he’s not ranked quite as high, in the 247 Sports all-time rankings he’s the eighth-highest ranked commitment since they began charting recruiting rankings in 2000.
2. Another One for Clinkscale
Vince Marrow’s developed quite a reputation as a recruiter, but he isn’t doing it all by himself. In 2017 Eddie Gran reeled in a handful of players from South Florida. More recently, Jon Sumrall has picked up a few commitments from the South. Meanwhile, Steve Clinkscale invested heavily into Michigan. That has paid dividends over the last two classes. Marquan McCall was the highest-ranked player in the state. He came to UK with DeAndre Square, who made the SEC’s All-Freshman team in 2018. Clink brought in the biggest fish to date with Justin Rogers’ commitment, then went South Florida to convince Anaele to commit to UK. The Cats have a pair of Top 100 players in the 2020 class thanks to Coach Clink.
3. New to Football
Anaele is one of the best football players in America and he’s only played the game for three years. Born in Nigeria, he began his athletic career with a roundball on the hardwood. His career trajectory mirrors Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald, a Nigerian-born Kentucky defensive lineman who first came to Florida as a basketball player. The two posed for a picture on Anaele’s most recent visit to Lexington.
4. He’s at The Opening Finals
Last week recruits flocked to Atlanta for Rivals Five-Star Challenge. This week’s invitation only national football camp is hosted by Nike at Jerry World in Dallas. He’s the only UK commitment in attendance, but one of Lexington’s finest, Frederick Douglass rising junior wide receiver Dekel Crowdus, is making plays.
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) July 1, 2019
5. A Low Profile Recruit
Even though he’s one of the top-ranked players in America, Anaele has stayed out of the public eye. Interviewed only once every few months, he’s not concerned with all the hoopla that surrounds the crazy industry. A wise man once said there’s a difference between somebody who likes being a football player vs. someone who likes to play football. Anaele is the latter, determined to put in the work to become a significant contributor at the next level.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 02nd, 2019 @ 9:55am
July is always one of the hottest months of the year, but the world of UK Athletics made sure the first day was absolutely scorching.
For starters, Kentucky football secured a commitment from 2020 four-star wide receiver Kalil Branham and then followed it up with a pledge from top-100 prospect and consensus four-star defensive end Samuel Anaele. Double Yahtzee.
And then on Monday evening, former Wildcats Tyler Herro and Wenyen Gabriel scorched the nets in their 2019 NBA Summer League debuts.
Starting right now, Matt Jones, Drew Franklin, and Shannon the Dude are set to take over the KSR airwaves to discuss the big start to July and where we go from here.
Join in on the fun by calling (502) 571-1080 or send a text to the KSR Texting Machine at (772) 774-5254.
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By Nick Roush on ©July 01st, 2019 @ 11:30pm
Update: Less than an hour after this story was initially published, Samuel Anaele (No. 5 DE, No. 96 overall) committed to Kentucky, the second four-star commitment of the day. Not too shabby.
The month of June was kind to Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow.
The Cats entered the month with four football commitments. After a week of camps, three weeks of official visitors and the efforts of a talented quarterback and his future teammates, Kentucky has the
No. 25 No. 20 recruiting class in America according to Rivals. Four of the 12 Five of the 13 commitments are ranked as four-star prospects by at least one recruiting service.
Things will begin to slow down on the football recruiting front as we enter the month of July and high school football practices begin across the country. Here’s how Kentucky reached this point and who could be next.
Kentucky began the month of June with a solid foundation to build its class. The Cats had a talented offensive lineman from Louisville, four-star offense tackle John Young, and a four-star quarterback who lived just minutes from campus, Beau Allen. When talented recruits officially visited and camped in Lexington, the commits were there to make the pitch. Jordan Watkins was one of the first high profile recruits to camp at Kentucky. He caught passes from Allen and was guarded by future UK cornerback Andru Phillips.
The team effort made dominos fall. The night Watkins camped in Lexington, running back Torrance Davis committed to UK. Less than 24 hours later, running back JuTahn McClain rolled the dice. Three days later, Georgia linebacker D’Eryk Jackson became Jon Sumrall’s first commitment. Sumrall’s second Yahtzee came two weeks later during the biggest weekend of the summer.
Alabama offensive lineman Joshua Jones started off the Saturday hot. Before the weekend ended, three wide receivers pledged their allegiance to UK — Michigan’s Earnest Sanders, Louisville’s Watkins and Izayah Cummings. The final addition to the wide receivers room in the 2020 class happened Monday evening when Kalil Branham announced his commitment. Recruiting receivers is much easier when they know the quarterback they’ll be catching passes from in the future.
Kentucky Football Class of 2020
|Justin Rogers||DT||Oak Park, MI||6-4||315||5-star, #14 Overall|
|Samuel Anaele||DE/OLB||Miami, FL||6-4||250||4-star, #112 Overall|
|John Young||OT||Louisville, KY||6-6||295||4-star, #5 KY|
|Beau Allen||QB||Lexington, KY||6-2||200||4-star, #20 QB|
|Tre'vonn Rybka||DL||Dickson, TN||6-4`||281||4-star, #18 SDE|
|Andru Phillips||CB||Mauldin, SC||6-0||180||3-star, #5 SC|
|Torrance Davis||RB||Cleveland, OH||6-1||215||3-star, #26 RB|
|JuTahn McClain||APB||Fairfield, OH||5-9||176||3-star, #12 APB|
|Kalil Branham||WR||Columbus, OH||6-1||205||3-star, #84 WR|
|Deondre Buford||OT||Detroit, MI||6-5||270||3-star, #70 OT|
|Jordan Watkins||WR||Louisville, KY||6-0||180||3-star, #13 ATH|
|Izayah Cummings||WR||Louisville, KY||6-3||210||3-star, #11 KY|
|Earnest Sanders||WR||Flint, MI||6-2||190||3-star, #100 WR|
|D'Eryk Jackson||LB||Dexter, GA||6-2||235||3-star, #106 GA|
|Joshua Jones||OT||Phenix City, AL||6-6||300||3-star, #58 OT|
|Carrington Valentine||CB||Cincinnati, OH||6-0||218||3-star, #28 OH|
|Rickey Hyatt Jr.||S||Westerville, OH||6-1||195||3-star, #38 S|
Off the Board
When Kentucky missed, they missed with the best and brightest.
There were four different four-star prospects who narrowed their choices to Kentucky and one other school. Defensive tackle Dallas Walker (Texas Ranger) chose Texas A&M over UK, cornerback Enzo Jennings picked Penn State over Kentucky, Birmingham linebacker Quandarrius Robinson yelled Roll Tide and offensive lineman Chris Mayo took country roads to West Virginia. Kentucky put themselves in a position to win, but you can’t win them all.
Another four-star recruit, outside linebacker Romello Height, declared Kentucky his favorite after officially visiting UK and Miami. Two weeks later, he changed his mind and committed to The U, with a caveat — Height is still open to visit other schools. Kentucky’s pursuit of Height may not be complete.
The University of Louisville is engaged with a few former UK targets. Josh Minkins, a Ballard defensive back and Louisville legacy recruit, committed shortly after camping with Kentucky. There were no hard feelings after his performance in Lexington. The Cards are now heavily pursuing Jaheim Thomas, a four-star Cincinnati linebacker, who revealed last week the Cats have moved on.
Who’s Up Next?
If you plan on taking a long, four-day weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, you might also have a UK football commitment to celebrate. Friday evening on July 5th, offensive lineman Richie Leonard will announce his college decision. Leonard was one of UK’s first commitments in the 2020 class, but reopened his recruitment when the major players in his home state of Florida got involved. Florida State, Tennessee, Miami, Florida, UCF and Georgia Tech are also finalists. The chances he rolls the dice are promising.
Leonard isn’t the only Florida native in UK’s crosshairs. Nigerian-born pass rusher Samuel Anaele recently decommitted from his hometown team of Miami. Kentucky is the favorite moving forward, although a timetable on his decision is unclear.
Narrator: “It’s now clear.”
The two biggest uncommitted targets within the Commonwealth — North Hardin four-star defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine and Bowling Green four-star safety Vito Tisdale — are not expected to make a decision anytime soon. Frequent flyers to Lexington, UK is in a good spot for each elite defender.
Kentucky will end up having room for about 20 prospects. The final spots will be set aside for a defensive back or two, then the best players available. JUCO cornerback Marco Domio and defensive back Carrington Valentine have already officially visited. Offensive tackle Deondre Buford has as well; a commitment would give UK three from the state of Michigan in the 2020 class. Potentially the biggest piece left of the puzzle is Michael Drennen. Kentucky has commitments from six WRs/RBs, but they would make room for one of the best overall athletes in America.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 01st, 2019 @ 10:36pm
How about a second four-star YAHTZEE to close out your Monday evening?
2020 top-100 prospect and consensus four-star defensive end Samuel Anaele has committed to Kentucky.
According to Justin Rowland of Rivals.com, Anaele made the pledge official this evening:
BREAKING: Huge story. Cats Illustrated has learned #Rivals100 four-star defensive end Samuel Anaele has committed to Kentucky. @coachclink has now landed two of the highest-ranked players in UK football history in this class alone. Both d-linemen https://t.co/kn4OPZzHg8
— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) July 2, 2019
Ranked by Rivals as the No. 5 defensive end in America and No. 96 player overall, Anaele is now Kentucky’s second highest-ranked player in their 2020 class, behind only Justin Rogers. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end, who decommitted from Miami yesterday, chose Kentucky over offers from Florida, Georgia, Miami, Michigan, and Oregon, among others.
Anaele joins four-star wide receiver Kalil Branham as Kentucky’s commitments today, giving the Wildcats their 13th pledge in the class of 2020. Anaele and Branham join Rogers, John Young, Beau Allen, Jutahn McClain, Earnest Sanders, Torrance Davis, Izayah Cummings, Andru Phillips, Jordan Watkins, Joshua Jones, and D’Eryk Jackson as commitments.
With today’s commitments of Anaele and Branham, Kentucky now moves up to No. 20 overall in the team recruiting rankings on Rivals.com. They are now ahead of schools such as South Carolina, Mississippi State, Louisville, Tennessee, and Auburn.
Check out some of the newest Wildcat’s most recent highlights below:
Welcome home, big fella.
Kentucky has added an incredibly talented athlete to complete its arsenal of wide receivers in the 2020 recruiting class.
Four-star wide receiver Kalil Branham is ranked by 247 Sports as the No. 350 player in America and No. 61 wide receiver. The one-time Michigan commit went all-in on the Cats shortly after unofficially visiting for the spring game. Most onlookers quickly judge a player’s significance based on his recruiting ranking and offer sheet. Neither can accurately describe what Branham brings to the table.
A versatile athlete, Branham varsity lettered in four sports — football, basketball, baseball and track and field — as a high school freshman. A state champion that competed in track and field on the national level, Branham’s speed is the first thing that jumps out on his film. Speed can only you get you so far. His ability to quickly change direction and accelerate into a second gear is remarkable.
Four defenders were in position to make a play, yet even after slipping he still found a way to make them all miss.
Recruited by Vince Marrow to be Kentucky’s “next Lynn Bowden,” his high school film mirrors the UK slot receiver’s. Each did a little big of everything for their high school team — return kicks, play quarterback and catch passes. Last season Branham returned a kickoff for a touchdown, threw for a touchdown, rushed for quite a few and caught deep balls on top of opponents. The following play is the most Bowden-esque, flipping the field as the running quarterback to finish with a score.
It’s always impressive to see someone juke an entire defense, then blow by 11 guys. What makes Branham special is that he doesn’t just run around people. A 6’1″ 205-pound prospect, Branham is not afraid of contact. He uses physicality to finish plays where other slots would simply take the easy road out of bounds.
Branham could have made a nice 15-yard gain by busting it straight to the edge. Instead, he created space with a jab step, then finished with a spin off of his defender to finish in the end zone. That football IQ is rarely seen so young.
What makes Branham special cannot be seen on film. An incredibly hard worker, he catches at least 125 footballs everyday. To break up the monotony with daily training, he runs hills, jumps boxes and throws on gloves to box in his garage. The younger brother to a Division I running back — his brother John will begin his first season at Eastern Michigan this fall — Kalil’s drive will pave the way for a successful career as playmaker as a slot receiver and returner at the University of Kentucky.
By Nick Roush on ©July 01st, 2019 @ 6:45pm
Kentucky had two chances to receive commitments on the first day of July. Only one of the two picked UK.
Ninety minutes after four-star wide receiver Kalil Branham committed to Kentucky, Georgia outside linebacker Romello Height announced on Twitter he has committed to Miami over the Cats, Florida and Georgia Tech.
— Romello Height? (@height_romello) July 1, 2019
Ranked as a three-star recruit by Rivals, the 6’5″ pass rusher’s commitment to The U comes at an ideal time for the Canes. Yesterday news broke that Samuel Anaele reopened his recruitment. A Miami native that was committed for over 18 months, UK is now the favorite for the four-star pass rusher.
UK and The U are going back and forth on the recruiting trail. The Canes have the upper hand…for now.
The commitment story posted by Rivals’ Chad Simmons ends with this: “Height said his commitment is strong, but that he will continue to ‘enjoy the process’ and take visits to other schools.”
Kentucky added another four-star talent to its recruiting class with the commitment of Kalil Branham, a wide receiver out of Columbus, Ohio. Branham pledged his commitment to the Wildcats in an announcement video via his Twitter account Monday afternoon:
Thank you to the ones who gave me opportunity and Prayer. The ones that gave me their time. Please watch my commitment video. pic.twitter.com/ENquLMJg7C
— Kalil Branham 2020 (@kbug_dash) July 1, 2019
A former Michigan Wolverines commit, Branham reopened his recruitment back in early April, following an unofficial visit to Kentucky, coincidentally. The visit went very well and UK had been considered the leader for Branham since that time.
Branham picked Kentucky over a number of schools, including Louisville, to become the 12th commitment in the 2020 class. He is one of four four-star prospects and the fourth wide receiver of the group.
By Nick Roush on ©July 01st, 2019 @ 12:00pm
Kentucky is in great shape for one of the nation’s top pass rushers.
Samuel Anaele first committed to Miami 18 months ago. Throughout the Hurricanes’ coaching change, the elite recruit kept his pledge to his hometown team. Even so, he visited other schools.
Anaele followed up an unofficial visit to Lexington in the spring with an official visit to Kentucky in June. From the outset, UK appeared to gain momentum following the visits without any significant change in his status, until last week.
Sunday afternoon at The Opening Finals Anaele told 247 Sports he decommitted from Miami last Thursday. The Canes’ 12th decommitment in the 2020 class, Anaele said he will still consider Miami.
Shortly after the news broke, most recruiting prognosticators predicted Kentucky would be the ultimate landing spot for Anaele. Auburn will also be in the mix, but UK is the only school Anaele has officially visited thus far.
Predicting a decision timetable for a prospect that has been quiet throughout his recruitment is difficult. He’s kept a low profile on the recruiting trail, but he’s a high profile player. Ranked by Rivals as the No. 5 defensive end in America and No. 96 player overall, if Anaele commits to UK he would be the second highest-ranked player in the Cats’ class, behind only Justin Rogers. The Nigerian-born athlete is already Josh Allen-sized and is prepared to make a comparable impact at the next level.
One of the best players in Ohio will be a Buckeye.
Darrion Henry, a four-star prospect from Cincinnati, announced he will attend Ohio State University in 2020. A top 20 defensive lineman in America, recruiting services ranked Henry as the No. 2 player in the state of Ohio.
Kentucky was a finalist for Henry, but the writing had been on the wall for quite some time. Vince Marrow got Henry on campus for a visit this spring. It was enough to earn the Cats a spot in his final seven, but it was not enough to convince him to leave his home state.
June has been a wild month on the football recruiting front. I’ll have a complete recap as the calendar turns Monday evening.
By Nick Roush on ©June 29th, 2019 @ 6:30pm
When Neal Brown left Troy to take the head coaching job at West Virginia University, many UK football fans feared the Kentucky-native would raid the Commonwealth for recruits. He’s setup shop in Kentucky, while internationally expanding his recruiting efforts.
Brown’s first commitment as the Mountaineers head coach came from his hometown. Boyle County wide receiver Reese Smith pledged his allegiance to West Virginia two months after Brown was introduced as the head coach.
Brown has pursued a few other highly-touted recruits from the Commonwealth, but he’s looking farther away to bring in talent. Last month Jairo Faverus committed to the Mountaineers. The cornerback from Great Britain announced his decision shortly after his group from Premier Players International worked out for coaches in Morgantown. Sports Illustrated profiled this interesting development on the recruiting trail.
The staff is serious enough about international recruiting that Brown plans to send an assistant coach on a recruiting trip to Amsterdam and Germany this winter. The only issue is selecting which of the 10 assistants gets a free trip overseas. “They’re all clamoring for it,” (director of player personnel Brian) Bennett laughs. West Virginia isn’t the only program dabbling in the overseas market for players. Michigan, Temple, Penn State, Ohio State, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Boise State, Colorado and Arizona have all shown interest in or signed international players.
The latest college football recruiting trend is not passing by Mark Stoops. UK found its last two punters in Australia. This spring Kentucky received a verbal commitment from Canadian defensive tackle Lamar Goods, but unfortunately, they were a little late to the party. Following an official visit to Gainesville, Goods committed to the Gators, the first school that offered him.
As college football’s growth reaches new heights, the recruiting game will extend to new territories. It won’t be long before there are British blokes filling sidelines across the country.
We will soon know where Kalil Branham will play college football.
The talented four-star wide receiver from Columbus, Ohio will announce his college decision Monday evening at 5:00 p.m.
The No. 350 player in America according to 247 Sports, Branham previously committed to Michigan. He reopened his recruitment after attending UK’s spring game. A few weeks later on May 3, Branham officially visited Kentucky, his only visit since removing his pledge to Michigan.
A 6’1″ athlete, Branham has track star speed and an incredible work ethic away from the field. A teenager who recently taught himself to play piano by ear, he’s the most intriguing recruit I’ve ever interviewed. I will be shocked if he does not pick Kentucky Monday night.
Recruited by Vince Marrow to be Kentucky’s “next Lynn Bowden,” a few of Branham’s field-flipping touchdowns will remind you of Bowden’s high school highlights.
By Nick Roush on ©June 28th, 2019 @ 10:30am
As you prepare to turn the calendar, get the pen out for a few important Friday nights in the Commonwealth.
Unlike a few previous years, Kentucky’s 2020 recruiting class already features four commitments from the state. This fall you can spend Friday nights watching future UK football players on the gridiron. In one case, future teammates will face one another.
Two future UK wide receivers, Butler’s Jordan Watkins and Male’s Izayah Cummings, will face off Friday, September 27 at Male High School. Last year Cummings came out ahead, catching eight passes for 127 yards and a touchdown en route to a 30-12 victory.
Unfortunately, those who are traveling to Columbia for the South Carolina game will be unable to attend, but there are a few other Friday nights that future Wildcats will be featured in marquee matchups.
Beau Allen — Lexington Catholic
- Aug. 23 at Pulaski County at 6:00 p.m.
- Sep. 6 at Covington Catholic at 7:00 p.m.
- Oct. 11 at Boyle County (West Virginia commit Reese Smith and Notre Dame commit Landen Bartleson)
- Nov. 1 vs. Frederick Douglass (Clemson commit Walker Parks, UK 2021 recruits Dekel Crowdus and Jager Burton)
Izayah Cummings — Male
- Aug. 30 at Ballard (UofL DB commit Josh Minkins) at 7:00 p.m.
- Sep. 6 at St. X
- Sep. 20 vs. Trinity
Jordan Watkins — Butler
- Aug. 24 vs. South Warren, 5:00 p.m. at WKU
- Aug. 30 at DeSales (Watkins’ former school)
- Oct. 18 at St. X
John Young — Christian Academy of Louisville
- Sep. 20 at Boyle County
- Oct. 11 vs. DeSales
* All times 7:30 unless noted otherwise.
Even though his teammate Justin Rogers is coming to Kentucky, four-star defensive back Enzo Jennings will take his talents to Happy Valley.
The four-star cornerback announced this morning he has committed to Penn State. His other finalists were Pitt, Notre Dame and Kentucky.
— Enzo Jennings (@_enzoj) June 27, 2019
Jennings’ decision was ultimately between the two Citrus Bowl foes. Kentucky first offered Jennings as an eighth grader. Despite the early attention, UK’s New Year’s Day bowl victory and a late push by Steve Clinkscale and the UK coaching staff, the Top 150 recruit chose to play for Penn State.
Clinkscale offered two talented kids from Oak Park as eighth graders. It provided a payout for at least one. Fifty percent isn’t a bad rate of return.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 26th, 2019 @ 1:00pm
So far in the 2020 class, Kentucky has landed commitments from four in-state recruits, three from the city of Louisville. In the 2019 class, the Cats signed five in-state players, four from the Derby City. Considering that the 2018 class didn’t include a single player from the state of Kentucky and a player from Louisville hadn’t signed with the program since 2014, that’s a pretty impressive upswing, the credit for which should go to Vince Marrow.
Mark Stoops’ decision to put Marrow, who mainly focused on Ohio, Michigan, and other Big 10 territories, on Kentucky has helped the program reestablish its stronghold on the state at the expense of Louisville, its biggest rival. Since Vince took over in-state recruiting, the Cats have signed or secured commitments from nine players from the Commonwealth to Louisville’s three, and are becoming the preferred choice for Louisville’s top talent, who typically go with Cardinal Red instead of Kentucky Blue.
There’s a long way to go until Signing Day, but with two major in-state targets still on the table in four-star safety Vito Tisdale and three-star defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine, let’s take a look at how Kentucky has taken over the battleground for in-state stars.
We generally prefer to use Rivals’ rankings for football here at KSR, but because 247 Sports Composite’s state rankings are much more comprehensive prior to 2017, I defaulted to them for this exercise.
Kentucky – 4
- No. 4: Four-star OT John Young, Louisville (Christian Academy-Louisville)
- No. 6: Three-star QB Beau Allen, Lexington (Lexington Catholic)
- No. 7: Three-star WR Izayah Cummings, Louisville (Male)
- No. 10: Three-star ATH Jordan Watkins, Louisville (Butler)
Louisville – 2
- No. 11: Three-star S Josh Minkins Jr., Louisville (Ballard)
- No. 15: Three-star SDE Austin Collins, Louisville (Christian Academy-Louisville)
Still on the table:
- No. 3: Four-star safety Vito Tisdale, Bowling Green (Bowling Green)
- No. 5: Three-star defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine, Radcliff (North Hardin)
Another trend to keep an eye on: West Virginia. Since taking over, Neal Brown has landed three-star wide receiver Reese Smith from his old stomping grounds at Boyle County.
Kentucky – 5
- No. 7: Four-star LB Jared Casey, Louisville (Ballard)
- No. 8: Four-star DE JJ Weaver, Louisville (Moore)
- No. 10: Three-star WDE Shawnkel Knight-Goff, Louisville (Doss)
- No. 11: Three-star WR Demontae Crumes, Louisville (Butler)
- No. 14: Three-star C Eli Cox, Nicholasville (West Jessamine)
Louisville – 2
- No. 12: Three-star RB Aidan Robbins, Louisville (DuPont Manual)
What a difference a year makes. Obviously, the decision to put Vince Marrow in charge of Kentucky in the spring of 2018 started paying dividends with the 2019 class. Kentucky landed five of the top 15 players in the state, the most since the 2016 class, which included Landon Young, Kash Daniel, and Drake Jackson.
Kentucky – 0
Louisville – 2
- No. 2: Four-star CB Jairus Brents, Louisville (Waggener)
- No. 43: Two-star QB Drew Zaubi, Crestwood (South Oldham)
In 2018, Kentucky didn’t sign a single in-state kid for the first time in 78 years, a brutal wake-up call. Louisville may have snagged the second best prospect in the state, Jairus Brents, but another coach had cast a spell over the Commonwealth’s best: Jeff Brohm. Purdue signed five of the top 15 players from Kentucky that year, including No. 1 Rondale Moore. Obviously, a change needed to be made. After the ink dried and the dust settled on the 2018 class, Mark Stoops put Vince Marrow in charge of getting Kentucky’s best to come to Kentucky.
Kentucky – 2
- No. 4: Three-star QB Walker Wood, Lexington (Lafayette)
- No. 9: Three-star OT Austin Dotson, Belfry (Belfry)
Louisville – 1
- No. 2: Three-star OG Cole Bentley, Belfry (Belfry)
Jedrick Wills was far and away the best player in the state that year, and had he chosen Kentucky over Alabama, the Cats may have been able to build momentum in the state for the 2018 class; needless to say, that didn’t happen.
Kentucky – 5
- No. 1: Four-star OT Landon Young, Lexington (Lafayette)
- No. 2: Four-star C Drake Jackson, Versailles (Woodford County)
- No. 3: Four-star ILB Kash Daniel, Paintsville (Paintsville)
- No. 5: Three-star ATH Zy’Aire Hughes, Paducah (McCracken County)
- No. 7: Three-star CB Davonte Robinson, Lexington (Henry Clay)
Louisville – 3
- No. 4: Three-star WR Keion Wakefield, Louisville (Male)
- No. 10: Three-star DT Derek Dorsey, Louisville (DuPont Manual)
- No. 14: Three-star P Austin Johnson, Louisville (De Sales)
Stoops made a splash by signing five in-state stars in 2016, all ranked in the top ten in the state. Kash Daniel, Landon Young, and Drake Jackson became the cornerstones of Stoops’ “Stay home and be a hero” campaign in hopes of snagging an even bigger fish in the 2017 class: five-star offensive tackle Jedrick Wills.
Kentucky – 2
- No. 2: Four-star OLB Eli Brown, Bowling Green (Warren East)
- No. 9: Three-star OG Mason Wolfe, Henderson (Henderson County)
Louisville – 0
A lot of Kentucky’s in-state efforts in the 2015 class were focused on Damien Harris, the No. 1 prospect in the state who eventually signed with Alabama. Elsewhere in the Commonwealth, Western Kentucky was booming after back-to-back eight-win seasons, signing the majority of the state’s two- and three-star talent.
Kentucky – 4
- No. 1: Four-star QB Drew Barker, Hebron (Conner)
- No. 2: Four-star DT Matt Elam, Elizabethtown (John Hardin)
- No. 3: Three-star WDE Lloyd Tubman, Louisville (Seneca)
- No. 5: Three-star DT Adrian Middleton, Bowling Green (South Warren)
Louisville – 1
- No. 3: Three-star ATH Reggie Bonnafon, Louisville (Trinity)
With his first season under him, Stoops made keeping Drew Barker and Matt Elam in-state a priority in the 2014 class. He succeeded, and even if their careers at Kentucky didn’t pan out, there’s no denying the swag of that Super Bowl ad:
Kentucky – 3
- No. 3: Four-star WDE Jason Hatcher, Louisville (Trinity)
- No. 6: Three-star RB/WR Ryan Timmons, Frankfort (Franklin County)
- No. 7: Three-star DT Jacob Hyde, Manchester (Clay County)
Louisville – 2
- No. 1: Four-star WR James Quick, Louisville (Trinity)
- No. 4: Four-star QB Kyle Bolin, Lexington (Lexington Catholic)
Stoops’ first initiative when taking the job in November 2012 was securing in-state talent. With very little time, he did pretty well, signing four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher, three-star athlete Ryan Timmons, and three-star defensive tackle Jacob Hyde.