On Saturday afternoon, I sat down and wrote an entire post about how no matter →
Football Recruiting News
Prepare for an onslaught of National Signing Day coverage from Kentucky Sports Radio. For the next few days, you’ll hear several hacks describe and analyze the newest Kentucky Wildcats. I thought we could break down evaluation terms so that we’ll all be on the same page come go-time.
Mauler: Term used to describe a physically tough offensive lineman with the size-mentality-ability to forcefully run block along the line-of-scrimmage.
Thumper: A hard hitting linebacker.
Navigate Wash: Ability for offensive/defensive linemen to work their way around other players within the line-of-scrimmage in order to execute assignments.
Get Off: Explosive or quick start movement upon football’s snap.
Space: Open areas on the football field. Can be used for ball carriers and defensive backs.
Smart Eyes: Applicable to most positions, refers to intelligent play and ability to foresee situations/result.
Twitchy: Fast-rapid explosion athlete.
Courage Throw: Deep passes from a quarterback intended to be completed over the middle of the football field.
High Motor: High energy/effort, continual motion on the field.
*Think Jordan Jones.
Havoc: Defensive term referring to the following statistics: Interceptions, Tackles for Loss, Pass Breakups, QB Sacks, Forced Fumbles.
Bull Rush: Pass rush method in which the defender pursues the quarterback by running directly at and over intended blocker.
Spin Move: Another defensive pass rush term, used when defender engages blocker then spins to avoid being blocked and to separate in order to sack the quarterback.
Y.A.C.: Yards after catch
Expect another post later today in which we’ll briefly discuss each UK commit’s film.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 30th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Well, it’s been a day and a half and I don’t feel any better about Kentucky’s loss to Kansas. Sure, on paper, it doesn’t seem too bad — Kansas was the #2 ranked team in the country, after all — however, watching a team that looked so good and was ahead by 12 disintegrate into a rudderless heap at the mere sight of a zone was disheartening to say the least. Regardless, it’s technically still January and there’s a lot of basketball to be played, so we soldier on. I thought this picture of a young fan with some of the UK Cheerleaders after their 22nd national championship might cheer us all up a bit.
1. John Calipari will address the media this afternoon
After back-to-back losses, John Calipari sounded as defeated as I’ve heard him this season while addressing media after the game. After holing up in his office with his dogs and “Alaskan Bush People,” will he feel any better? We’ll find out when he previews the Georgia game around 2:30 p.m. Check the site for a live stream and afterwards for a full recap.
2. Is it time for a “tweak”?
Two out of the past three seasons, John Calipari has implemented a “tweak” midway through the conference season to attempt to fix his squad. After two straight losses in which Kentucky looked incapable of playing defense, is another tweak on the way? It sure feels like it. After all of the clamor for Bam Adebayo to get more touches, he was still only 3-7 from the floor Saturday night. Easy “tweak”: get the ball to Bam more. More necessary tweak: teach your guards to play better defense.
3. How bad was UK’s offense Saturday night?
This graphic from ESPN sums it up:
AND IT’S NOT LIKE KANSAS HAS A GREAT DEFENSE. They just played a zone that wasn’t even that good but it still made the Cats look like toddlers trying to use silverware for the first time.
Sorry. Right now, Kentucky basketball just makes me feel like…
4. On the bright side, SEC Tournament ticket prices are down
If you’re looking for a silver lining to Kentucky’s recent dip, it’s that SEC Tournament ticket prices are down on secondary markets and Nashville’s always a fun time, right? I haven’t started my annual phone tour of other schools’ box offices to see if they have extra tickets, but given how bad the SEC is this year, I’d say that’s not a bad idea. If you find out which schools are selling extra tickets, let us know.
5. What will happen in the polls?
Yes, Kentucky will fall, but how far? The rest of college basketball was a mess last week as well, with only three teams in the Top 10 coming through unscathed: Gonzaga, Baylor, and Arizona. It seems absurd, but Gonzaga might become the number one team in the country this week, another reminder that even the dominant teams are struggling this season.
6. Meanwhile, I’m gonna try to avoid how good Louisville looked yesterday
To add insult to injury, the Cards beat NC State by 25 after beating Pitt by 55 earlier in the week. I really don’t like the way things are trending for both programs right now.
7. Hey, let’s look at a highlight of our NBA players facing off
Serious Cat on Cat crime yesterday when John Wall blew past on Anthony Davis for a dunk and then flexed on him:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 29, 2017
More to come in today’s BBNBA roundup a little later…
8. Did UK’s big recruiting weekend have any impact?
Signing Day is Wednesday, meaning Freddie Maggard’s probably already parked outside the training facility to prepare for the festivities. UK hosted a bevy of big recruits this weekend in both football and basketball alike, and although the final result of the game wasn’t what we all would have liked, the atmosphere at Rupp was impressive. Did that have any sway on Kentucky’s top targets, notably Alabama commit Jedrick Wills? At the game, Wills looked chummy with several UK players, including his Lafayette teammate Walker Wood. Alabama being Alabama, I wouldn’t bet on Wills flipping, but stranger things have happened in the days before Signing Day. We’ve got our ear to the ground, so stay tuned for scuttlebutt.
9. Shai Alexander’s teammate shattered a backboard Saturday night
Usually, it’s Shai Alexander stealing the headlines for Hamilton Heights Christian Academy, but on Saturday night, his teammate, 6-10 Canadian junior center Kaosi Ezeagu, shattered a backboard, prompting a three hour delay as the game had to be relocated to another gym.
Still waiting on Bam to shatter a backboard at Rupp…
10. Congratulations are in order
Between sports, politics, and life, we could all use some good news right now, and thankfully, there’s some to share. Congrats to former KSR writer/current ESPN employee John Wilmhoff, who got engaged over the weekend on the rooftop of the Carew Tower in Cincinnati. Best of luck, you crazy kids.
Radio in an hour…
Last week, rumors began to spread about revamped mutual interest between 5-star OL Jedrick Wills and Kentucky.
As we all know, the Lafayette High School-product chose Alabama a few months back, opting for the national powerhouse over the home school Wildcats.
Fans understood and respected his decision to compete year in and year out for National Championships. It’s the equivalent of players committing to play for John Calipari at Kentucky over the home-state school, a la Malik Monk or Devin Booker.
Fans looked elsewhere. The coaching staff, however, did not.
Pictures of Mark Stoops at Lafayette High School surfaced late last week, where Stoops played badminton with Wills.
A KSR reader then sent us a picture of Wills having dinner at Malone’s with the UK coaching staff that night.
I was told the UK staff pushed to get Wills on campus this weekend for the UK-Kansas game, and the trip was deemed “likely” at the time. The extent of the trip, however, (longevity, what Wills would be doing, etc) was in question.
Later that day, Justin Rowland of Rivals.com broke the news that Wills would be taking an official visit to UK this weekend. By all accounts, the trip was extremely successful.
So here we are, just three days from National Signing Day, and the possibility of Kentucky flipping a five-star Alabama commit is very much on the table.
But what would a Wills flip mean for Kentucky?
Mark Stoops and the entire Kentucky football staff is fighting tooth and nail for a five-star recruit committed elsewhere right up until he signs on the dotted line. That alone speaks for itself.
The Kentucky staff already got him on campus for an official visit on the final weekend of the recruiting season, where he was able to join former high school teammate Walker Wood (already enrolled at UK) and countless other recruits on campus.
For those saying Wills is pulling a Damien Harris, just using the team for tickets to a high-profile basketball game, they are sadly mistaken. Wills took the visit out of genuine interest in the Wildcats, and has let it known to those close to him that who he will sign with on Wednesday is certainly not set in stone right now.
As far as Alabama’s side of things, they knew about the visit when it got scheduled, but absolutely were not happy about it. In many instances, Saban will pull a scholarship offer of a recruit taking other visits, but he realizes Wills is far too valuable to do something of the sort. They let him take the visit, but flirted with some other recruits and took in some official visits this weekend as a result.
As far as what I’ve heard about the visit and Wills’ actual interest in a flip, I’ve been told he’s definitely considering it and the staff is extremely confident. Really confident. One thing that sticks out is what Alabama already has on the line and who they have committed. They started a true freshman at tackle this season, the same position he wants to play in college. Alabama also has a commitment from the #1 OT in the class. There are rumors Alabama wants to move him to guard when he gets there, so the idea of playing tackle at UK is definitely a step in the right direction for getting him in blue and white.
I’ve also been told Wills has kept close tabs on UK’s offensive line this season, and sees the progression under John Schlarman. He has seen UK listed as the #1 offensive line in the SEC, even ahead of Alabama, and is impressed. It isn’t a world-beating statistic to him, as he feels he’ll be able to make a massive impact wherever he goes, but he is impressed with UK’s development on the line.
Long story short, the effort of UK fighting after “their guy” when everyone else counted them out has paid off in the long run, and recruits (including Wills) are taking notice.
Whether Wills flips or not, the headlines are going to read “Five-star OL Jedrick Wills decides between Alabama, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Michigan, and UK.” It’s like one of those “one of these is not like the others” pictures you see on the internet. An Alabama message board last week said something along the lines of “Of all schools, why are we battling Kentucky for elite recruits.” Other schools have taken notice, and the recruits have as well.
If he does flip… Can you imagine the statement it’d make to the recruiting world?
“Kentucky flips five-star OL Jedrick Wills from Alabama.”
Kentucky has already proven they aren’t afraid to go head-to-head against the big boys, even signing Matt Elam away from Alabama a couple years ago. But taking a guy the Crimson Tide want desperately (they’ve visited him in Lexington multiple times in the last few weeks) would be absolutely massive.
Going into the future, Kentucky is LOADED with high school talent in the next couple years, and a guy of Wills level pulling the trigger would certainly make an impact on those guys. We saw it with Drew Barker, Matt Elam, Landon Young, and Kash Daniel (among others), but a recruit seeing Wills say no to Saban and yes to Stoops would definitely make them think twice before automatically looking elsewhere for college.
The recruitment is one thing, but Wills as a player is on a whole new level. He’s a five-star prospect for a reason.
I saw him play several times in person, and every time I walked away saying “This kid is an NFL lineman.” Every camp, event, and game he’s been a part of, those in attendance see the potential of an All-SEC guy. They see high-level draft selection with this kid.
He already has the size, technique is there, and has a mean streak like no other. He’s cutting some of the unnecessary fat, working on building strength, and perfecting his technique, and he hasn’t even set foot on a college campus yet. Can you imagine what’s going to happen when some strength and conditioning coaches get ahold of him?
Kid is going to be a freak of nature on the line, and Kentucky would benefit tremendously with him on it.
The staff is confident right now, so I have no reason not to be right now either.
We’ll keep you updated, but as of now it’s looking like we’ll be letting you know where a fax is received on Wednesday morning.
Apparently, this Lynn Bowden kid is something else. With National Signing Day coming up on Wednesday, there’s no better time to get excited for Lynn’s arrival in the Bluegrass. Our friend Joe Mussatto over at SEC Country interviewed coaches who have squared off against Bowden in the past, and if their comments don’t make you excited for this fall, nothing will:
SEC Country caught up with four coaches who game planned against Kentucky’s top 2017 commit during his senior year of high school: Dominic Menendez (Howland High School), Jeff Gough (Hudson High School), Mitch Hewitt (Chardon High School) and Jason Black (Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School).
We wanted to get their thoughts on what it was like to face Bowden. The consensus? He’s the best or one of the best Ohio prospects they’ve ever seen.
Check out the full article here, and laugh like an evil genius while you read it.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 27th, 2017 @ 5:06pm
Kevin Knox won’t be the only five-star recruit in Rupp Arena tomorrow; according to Justin Rowland, five-star offensive tackle Jedrick Wills will also be in attendance on his official visit. The Lafayette star is currently committed to Alabama, but Mark Stoops and the UK staff haven’t given up hope on him yet, playing badminton with him yesterday morning and taking him to dinner at Malone’s last night:
With Signing Day coming up on Wednesday, does UK have a shot at convincing the five-star recruit to turn down Alabama to stay home and be a hero? Don’t get your hopes up, but stranger things have happened…
By Nick Roush on ©January 26th, 2017 @ 8:30pm
Mark Stoops is doing everything he can to get Jedrick Wills to Kentucky.
The five-star offensive tackle and Lexington-native is committed to Alabama. After receiving a visit from Nick Saban earlier this week, Stoops has not stopped recruiting Wills. Earlier today, Stoops was spotted playing badminton with Wills at Lafayette High School. Tonight, a KSR reader sent us this picture.
Stoops has six more days to convince Wills to stay home.
By Nick Roush on ©January 26th, 2017 @ 7:00pm
Under a week till National Signing Day, Freddie and the gang preview Kentucky’s 2017 class like you’ve never seen before. It’s the first Depth Chart NSD Draft. You’ve probably seen all the rankings and highlights, but this will help you understand who we believe will make an immediate impact and who can play in the NFL with the right development. Highlights include:
— The most under-valued prospects, a.k.a. the “Josh Allen Award” winners.
— What’s the best position in the class?
— There’s room for two more additions to the class.
— O-Line talk.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes, streaming on Podbay, or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 26th, 2017 @ 2:30pm
Today in sentences I never thought I’d write: Mark Stoops spent the morning playing badminton with Jedrick Wills at Layette High School. Of course, Wills, a five-star offensive tackle, is currently committed to Alabama, but with less than a week ’til Signing Day, Stoops is still doing his best to flip him:
— Jesse Peters (@PetersLHS_HC) January 26, 2017
Or, he just really enjoys badminton. Either one.
1. Kevaughn Dingle will not take an official visit to Kentucky this weekend, he told KSR’s Jack Pilgrim. The 3-star wide receiver from Miami was committed to The U when Lamar Thomas entered the picture. Shortly after, Dingle decommitted and proclaimed the Cats as his leader. As NSD has drawn closer, Kentucky has committed resources to other wide receiver prospects, most notably Danny Davis, likely leading Dingle to make the decision to visit somewhere else this weekend.
2. ESPN is coming to town for NSD. ESPN is covering recruiting at Kentucky for football, NOT basketball. Kind of a big deal. The four-letter network is sending 16 reporters on the road to cover the biggest football recruiting day of the year. The Cats are in good company.
|School (ESPN Ranking)||Reporter|
|No. 1 Alabama||Laura Rutledge|
|No. 2 Ohio State||Quint Kessenich|
|No. 3 Georgia||Maria Taylor|
|No. 4 Michigan||Jen Lada|
|No. 5 Florida State||Ryan McGee|
|No. 6 Oklahoma||Paul Carcaterra|
|No. 7 LSU||Allison Williams|
|No. 8 Texas A&M||Marcus Spears|
|No. 9 Auburn||Cole Cubelic|
|No. 11 Clemson||Marty Smith|
|No. 15 Penn State||Coley Harvey|
|No. 16 South Carolina||Tony Barnhart|
|No. 22 Arkansas||Clint Stoerner|
|No. 23 Colorado||Kris Budden|
|No. 27 Kentucky||Matt Stinchcomb|
|No. 35 Texas||Alex Loeb|
You’ll be able to find Stinchcomb’s coverage on ESPN2 and ESPNU.
3. The Depth Chart Podcast Does NSD. KSR is still finalizing plans for what will happen next Wednesday, but it all begins tomorrow. We’ll be discussing each prospect in a way that you’ve probably never heard before. Send your questions on Twitter by including #DepthChartJKF and stay close to your iTunes feed tomorrow night.
Last week, we gave a recruiting update on some of the remaining prospects left on Kentucky’s board for the 2017 Recruiting Class, and we promised to keep it going into this week.
A lot of movement has happened since then, some good for Kentucky, some bad.
Let’s take a look at some of the big topics to take a close watch on in the final week of the recruiting season.
He officially visited Penn State this past weekend, causing many to think his commitment to Kentucky may be up in the air. I’ve been told Penn State felt the visit went well, but they are unsure if it made much of an impact on the possibility of a flip before NSD. They only have two spots remaining, and supposedly have a ton of talented guys taking visits this weekend, meaning they’re not going to invest all of their time and interest in Paschal knowing they can lock up other big-name guys this weekend. It’s always a tough call when the big schools get an official visit late, but UK is very confident they’ll be receiving his signature next Wednesday, and that’s certainly where I’m leaning right now.
Matt Jones says there’s still a very good chance UK gets him, which is definitely a new development. I was told there was a significant barricade in his academics that has scared several schools away, which explains why a top-100 prospect with offers from Penn State, Michigan State, Oregon, etc., had none of those schools on his final list. I know he genuinely likes the Wildcats and has a great relationship with the coaching staff, and Kentucky loves him as a prospect. Receiver is not really a position of need for the Wildcats, but you just don’t say no to a player of Davis’ caliber if everything checks out off the field.
If UK can get the okay on his academics, I think they can, and will get him. If his academics aren’t there or he’s too close for comfort, my guess is he heads to West Virginia.
Should he commit to Kentucky, he would easily become a top three commitment for the Wildcats in their greatest football recruiting class ever.
Many people are asking about the visit between he and Mark Stoops last week, thinking there’s a chance for him to flip from Louisville. I’ve been told Yeast is still listening to several other schools and isn’t “set” on Louisville by any means. However, as awesome as it’d be for Craig Yeast’s son to suit up in blue and white, I don’t think it’s realistic right now.
I’ve been told his family loves Notre Dame and the coaching staff there a good bit, and some recruiting experts actually believe the Irish lead. I think UK could make a big push in his recruitment if they really wanted to, but I think he ends up elsewhere next Wednesday.
He officially visited Ohio State this weekend, where he received a scholarship offer from the school of his dreams. We told you last week that an offer meant Munford was going to become a Buckeye, and this remains true. He likely won’t announce his decision until Signing Day, but his mind is already made up.
He’s Ohio State bound.
Dingle took an official visit to Utah this weekend, and by the look of his Twitter feed, it went well. He also officially visited Lane Kiffin and Florida International the weekend before. As far as I know, he’s still planning on taking an official visit to Kentucky this weekend.
Danny Davis’ situation really puts a twist on things, as the Kentucky staff will absolutely not take two receivers to close out the class, meaning both Dingle and Yeast are on the back burner for now. If Davis becomes a Wildcat, both Dingle and Yeast are off the table. Dingle is a talented player and the staff loves his film, but when you look at best player available, the proof is in the pudding. Danny Davis could step in and contribute immediately, and the staff has certainly accounted for that.
Should UK skip out on Davis, I firmly believe Dingle remains an option. He certainly loves the Wildcats and has a great relationship with Lamar Thomas. My gut, however, is Kentucky looks elsewhere with their final two spots and Dingle heads to Utah.
Culpepper is still taking his official visit to UK this weekend, and there is significant mutual interest there. Culpepper, a four-star DB out of Florida, would be an incredible depth signing for UK. He wouldn’t be asked to come in and contribute immediately, instead, redshirting his first year and growing in the system.
I feel that Culpepper is certainly an option with one of the final two scholarship spots if the visit goes well this weekend. The staff has him fairly high on the priority list, and Culpepper knows this.
Things are still up in the air here, but we should know more after his visit this weekend.
This one is a name to keep a close eye on. Last week when I released this, UK and Jones were flirting with one another and a visit was possible, but it wasn’t set in stone. Now, he’s taking his official visit this weekend and his interest in the Wildcats is significantly high right now.
The only problem? UK has not had a committable offer for him, despite several sites saying he has one. If they give him one this weekend, I could definitely see him pulling the trigger and signing with Kentucky next week. There’s just so much grey area right now and a lot of moving pieces, so an offer is not certain by any means.
As far as the priority list goes for the Wildcats, I’d say Jones falls anywhere from three to five on guys they want. If they miss out on one of the top two, I think he’s right there for the Cats to sign on NSD.
Who gets the final two spots?
At this point, I’m not sure anybody knows for certain.
If Danny Davis checks out, he gets one. No debate. Beyond Davis, there’s a ton of grey area on that last scholarship offer. I believe Jones and Culpepper are the front-runners to take the spot, but the UK staff has done their homework on all prospects available. There’s a good chance they’re working behind the scenes on a guy that we haven’t been focusing on that may be committed elsewhere, and we could all be surprised on Signing Day.
What is known is that the staff is extremely confident right now, and rightfully so.
The good news for UK is that they have all of their “needs” out of the way already, meaning everything else at this point is just gravy. UK could strike out entirely before Signing Day and still be busting out the champagne when the fax machine starts rolling on Wednesday.
If they all stay together, and I truly think they will, this will end up being the greatest recruiting class in UK football history.
We’re coming in hot, BBN. Be ready for a crazy week of recruiting leading all the way up to Wednesday morning.
By Nick Roush on ©January 23rd, 2017 @ 9:30pm
Thayer Munford Probably isn’t Coming to Kentucky
For quite some time, it appeared as though the Cats would close on the four-star Ohio offensive tackle. After this weekend, all hope is (probably) gone. Since the bowl season ended, Ohio State has put on the full-court press, culminating with a scholarship offer at Munford’s official visit this past weekend. Munford will probably become a Buckeye, but you can never count out the big dog, Vince Marrow.
BBN never count out coach Stoops or the big dog i love to battle. Go Big Blue.
— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) January 23, 2017
UK Commit Visited Penn State
Munford wasn’t the only UK recruit taking an official visit to a Big Ten campus this weekend. Four-star Kentucky defensive end commit Joshua Paschal was in Happy Valley last weekend for an official visit. Penn State’s James Franklin will not stop recruiting Paschal until NSD, but the consensus is that it will not change Paschal’s mind *knock on wood*.
Former UK Recruit De-Commits from UofL
With just over a week until National Signing Day, three-star Tampa, Fl. defensive end/outside linebacker Jabreel Stephens announced on Twitter today he will no longer be a UofL Cardinal. When Stephens committed to UofL back in October, he was also being recruited by Kentucky. The Cats offered Stephens back in May and he attended camp over the summer.
Could Stephens flip to Kentucky? Probably not. The 247 Crystal Ball believes Stephens will stay at home and play for Charlie Strong at USF.
Schlarman, Stoops on the Road
Mark Stoops joined John Schlarman for a trip to Pike County to see future Kentucky offensive lineman, Austin Dotson. As you can see, Dotson is not small.
One Name to Watch
Stoops will host many recruits for the final recruiting weekend before NSD (College Gameday vs. Kansas couldn’t come at a better time). The name you need to remember is Sterling Jones. A late-riser, the Cats are coming in hot for the Alabama inside-linebacker. Jones is also considering UCF, Louisville, Purdue and Auburn, but he’ll probably be rolling dice before he leaves Lexington.
Mark Stoops may have lost the battle, but he’s determined to win the war.
Russ Yeast, the 4-star athlete and son of former UK great Craig Yeast, pledged his allegiance to the blue and white early in the recruiting process, but decided to re-open his recruitment last June. Four months later, Yeast decided it was in his best interest to become a Card. Mark Stoops hasn’t quit fighting.
Good in home with @UKCoachStoops yesterday
— Russ Yeast™ (@russ_yeast03) January 20, 2017
The Under Armour All-American was offered by Notre Dame and Stoops’ brother Bob this week. Yeast revealed he also received in-home visits from UofL and Notre Dame yesterday. Mark Stoops has a 33 percent chance of flipping Yeast back to Kentucky according to the 247 Crystal Ball.
If Yeast flips, this is what you’ll see at Kentucky.
There is a popular runner-up in Lexington today visiting the state’s most prized football recruit.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban, looking a little happier than he was last week, took a break from complaining about Clemson’s pick play to pay a visit to Jedrick Willis. Saban stopped by Wills’ Lafayette High School to make sure the four-star offensive tackle is still ready to sign the Alabama paperwork on February 1.
Wills tweeted this photo of the visit:
— Jedrick Wills ii® (@JWills73) January 19, 2017
Wills is all set to become one of 23 four and five-star players in Saban’s next great No. 1 recruiting class on Signing Day.
That’s not even fair.
By Drew Franklin on ©January 19th, 2017 @ 8:30am
One of Mark Stoops’ remaining targets in the 2017 class has canceled his upcoming trip to Lexington and solidified his commitment to The U.
Jon Ford, a three-star defensive end out of Fort Lauderdale, made plans to take an official visit to the University of Kentucky this coming weekend; however, a tweet he sent out Wednesday night announced that he will remain committed to Miami, despite recent speculation that a decommitment was imminent.
— Jon Ford 🎱 (@ford__9) January 19, 2017
Ford committed to Miami in January of last year and will follow through with that yearlong commitment. Kentucky’s last-minute efforts in flipping the No. 26 defensive end came up just short, two weeks shy of National Signing Day.
The Cats currently have 23 committed players in the class.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 17th, 2017 @ 2:30pm
We’ve officially reached the home stretch, Wildcat fans. National Signing Day is just over two weeks away, and the Kentucky football staff is racking up their SkyMiles trying to keep the Class of 2017 intact, along with securing a few final commitments in the process.
To start the year, even Mark Stoops admitted this would be a small recruiting class, with just over 20 signatures likely to be accepted. But here we are. UK is now up to 23 commitments, and they’re not done yet. My understanding is that Kentucky has 2-3 more spots available in this class, with each likely being high-profile recruits.
Let’s take a look at final list of prospects for Kentucky:
Four-star OT out of Massillon, Ohio
Munford’s situation is extremely interesting, as it seems this recruitment is coming down to both UK and Ohio State, and a single offer can (and would) sway his decision. If Ohio State offers Munford, my understanding is that’s where he’s going. Ohio State recently paid him a visit at his basketball game, but an offer did not come.
Ohio State has several high-ranked prospects left on their board, but just two scholarship spots remaining. They only have two offensive line commitments right now, so do they go more for position need or best player available? Let’s hope for the latter.
A new piece of information I have heard is Ohio State is preparing for a current commitment to flip, and they would likely use that open scholarship for Munford. If the flip occurs, Munford gets the offer, and likely becomes a Buckeye shortly thereafter.
This recruitment will likely lead right up to the final few days of January, and Kentucky will continue to push until pen meets paper. UK is holding one of their last few spots for Munford, making him the biggest remaining priority.
Four-star WR out of Miami Gardens, Florida
As we told you guys a few weeks back, Kentucky is the favorite for Dingle, and will likely receive his signature on National Signing Day… if there’s space. When I last talked to him, he couldn’t stop raving about the Wildcats, the coaching staff, and how excited he was to get to Lexington for his official visit. He said, “I think this visit is going to finalize things for me, especially with Signing Day being the week after. My visit to Kentucky is going to tell me where I want to be, give me faith in my decision when I sign my paperwork.”
The players and coaching staff like this kid a lot, but wide receiver is not a position of need right now, and would like to focus on some of the “big name” options. Having a four-star like Dingle with the interest he has in Kentucky says a lot about the program and the progress they’ve made. Tell me again when UK has had the ability to keep a four-star “on hold” before?
If Kentucky misses out on Munford, I believe Dingle signs with the Cats.
Four-star ATH out of Cocoa, Florida
He visited with both Oregon State and Oregon coaches this past weekend, and by look of his social media feed, he enjoyed his time. He’s currently committed to USF, but it seems almost certain he’ll be signing elsewhere on February 1st.
UK and Oregon have been the two favorites for a few weeks now, and I believe one of those schools will be his final destination. Oregon seems to be the team to beat right now, as the commitment of Lynn Bowden puts a spin on things. UK recruited both of them to play similar positions, where getting the ball in their hands was the biggest priority. The staff doesn’t see a need for both, but could use him if he’s dying to pull the trigger. I see Bowden more in the slot and Judson as a primary rusher, so there’s room for both.
One interesting note on Judson: He and former UK receiver Jeff Badet are good friends and remain in contact, with Kentucky coming up in several conversations in the past. Did Badet’s transfer impact Judson’s interest? Who knows, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Judson is an interesting case that will likely come down to the final few days before Signing Day, with Kentucky very much in contention leading up to then.
Per his Twitter, Judson just switched out his official visit to Kentucky on January 27th to USF, meaning the Wildcats are likely looking elsewhere for one of their final few spots.
Four-star WR out of Springfield, Ohio
As of now, I believe the four-star WR out of Ohio will be headed elsewhere, despite UK being the overwhelming favorite in his Crystal Ball on 247 Sports. There was a time it seemed that Davis was a lock to Kentucky, but contact seems to have faded out from both sides. He’s a top 100 prospect and a consensus four-star, so the lack of communication has to have some reasoning behind it, especially with Vince Marrow as his lead recruiter.
Sources have told KSR that the reason for Davis’ lack of interest is, in fact, due to grades. According to an Ohio source, interest was high throughout the top schools in the nation, but they soon realized there would be a major roadblock on the academic side of things for Davis and he may not qualify. Thus, interest is low and not many are wanting to take the chance on him.
It seems West Virginia is still making an effort on Davis, and I would consider them the favorite right now.
Things could shake up in the last two weeks where the UK coaching staff makes a big push, but I don’t see it right now. If that does happen, it will be one or the other between Davis and Dingle, both will not be coming.
Four-star DB out of Miami Gardens, Florida
Does UK really need another commitment from a defensive back? Not really. But this is Mark Stoops we’re talking about, a guy that lives and breathes for freak athletes in his secondary.
He’ll be visiting Kentucky in the final week of January with teammate Kevaughn Dingle, and reportedly loves the Wildcats. With offers from Oregon, LSU, Arkansas, South Carolina, and countless others, the dude is no slouch, and bringing him in at such a critical time of the recruiting season certainly means something. I don’t think the staff has made him a major priority, but if they miss out on some other guys, I’m hearing he would be a take for the Wildcats.
I’m working on getting an interview with him either before or after his official visit to Kentucky, so I’ll try to keep you guys updated with anything I hear.
Three-star DE out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Ford is the recruit I’m having the most trouble with. The staff has made him a big priority, and I certainly believe there is mutual interest, with Kentucky being in his top two schools right now. That being said, it just seems way too quiet between both sides, and he still raves about Miami (the school he’s committed to) on a consistent basis on social media.
He’s going on an official visit to UK this weekend, so he’ll be able to see the basketball game against South Carolina on top of UK football’s sales pitch. He’ll be able to interact with some crazy fans and get a real feel for campus life, two positives for Kentucky. If all goes well, I could see UK taking the lead after this weekend, even with an official visit to Miami coming the following weekend.
Ford would be a massive get both literally and figuratively. At 6’5, 250 lbs., he’s a freak of nature on the defensive line, and would just add to Stoops’ best DL class to date. The staff wants him bad, and they’ll be fighting their hardest for him right up to the end of the process.
As of now, the Kentucky staff is preparing for signatures from each committed prospect, and the general consensus is that this class will remain intact entirely. Every year there’s always a couple guys that surprise the coaching staff, but I feel that this class is extremely solid and they’ll all follow through on their word.
Should there be a few surprises, look at the list above and plug them in accordingly. UK has guys lined up and ready to go in preparation of a full class, meaning the War Room will be a fun one on February 1st.
Two weeks away, folks. Get ready.