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Defensive Tackle Isaiah Gibson Commits to KENTUCKY


Kentucky’s 2019 football recruiting class just got a lot better in the trenches.

Three-star defensive tackle Isaiah Gibson committed to Kentucky over Purdue and Wisconsin.  The 6’4″ 300 pound prospect from Springfield, Ohio is considered a top 30 player at his position according to 247 Sports.

Recruited by Vince Marrow, Gibson will join his fellow Springfield teammate, Moses Douglass, in Lexington.  Douglass is the highest-ranked recruit in the class.  They’re coached by Moe Douglass, a former Wildcat that spent more than a decade playing in the NFL, primarily with the Chicago Bears.

Gibson is the second defensive tackle in the Cats’ 2019 recruiting class, joining Toledo’s Cavon Butler.  Defensive tackle is the most difficult position to recruit, and UK got their top two guys to commit three months before signing day.  The addition of Gibson gives UK 16 total commitments in 2019 and improves the class to No. 40 overall.

"Grandpa" Eddie Gran has made Kentucky Football a Staple in South Florida

Mark Stoops’ unprecedented Kentucky football recruiting success started in Ohio with the help of Vince Marrow.  The Cats quickly achieved similar success in South Florida when Eddie Gran joined the coaching staff in 2016.

Over the last two years Kentucky’s offensive coordinator has signed 14 players from South Florida.  This year UK has already received four commitments from the area, including the Cats’ future quarterback, Nik Scalzo.  Gran’s incredible run at Kentucky did not happen overnight.

Almost two million people live in Broward County, Florida.  Miami-Dade’s northern border is the 17th-most populous county in America and arguably the most-talented area for high school football in country.

Broward County has been a second home for Gran since he began his coaching career in the early 90s.  In that time Gran has developed a reputation that is second to none among high school coaches.

“In South Florida, 100 percent his name carries weight around here. He’s been recruiting down here for 30 some-odd years,” said Matt DuBuc, the head coach of Cardinal Gibbons High School in Ft. Lauderdale.

“Across the board, I’ve been doing this 17 years and I haven’t seen anybody as good as Eddie. He knows the kids, he knows the coaches, he follows up. He just does a great job recruiting. Everybody’s got a niche and I think his niche is talent evaluation and getting the kids he targets.”

Gran’s name is well-known throughout the tight-knit, talented high school football community.  He developed that reputation by being a genuine recruiter.  It’s difficult to describe, but when Nik Scalzo first met UK’s offensive coordinator, something clicked.

“The first time I met him I knew that’s someone I wanted to play for,” Scalzo said.

Gran on a high school sideline, via 247.

Nik’s father Jerry has seen Gran operate from a father’s perspective and a coach’s perspective.  A former Clemson wide receiver and current assistant at Cardinal Gibbons, Gran has always treated Jerry Scalzo the same.  His steady presence and demeanor inspired a nickname, “Grandpa Eddie.”

You can just count on him and it’s not fake,” Jerry Scalzo said. “He’s not the guy that’s gonna come on campus just to schmooze the kids. He really invests in the kids.”

That investment does not end once a player commits.

“Heck, I walked into Nik’s room last night and they were on the phone together, just talking about what the week’s going to be like. That’s important to me. I wanted to make sure when he did go up there that he’s with people who are going to be like family. It’s an extension of me.”

Scalzo’s sentiment is shared by the parents of most players.  While their sons are being recruited, they must be able to trust the coach is going to do whatever it takes to make sure their son is surrounded by those who want him to succeed.

Joining the “family” has been a big part of UK’s recruiting pitch across the country.  Gran’s recruiting success has created a South Florida family within the team.  When the Scalzos visited campus last spring, they were surprised to see Nik’s old youth basketball coach, Steve Fitzgerald, the father of UK defensive lineman Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald’s testimony sold the Scalzos on UK.

“He said they visited like 20 schools. Going there (UK) and seeing how it was like a family and our how our faith lined up and how it’s just an extension of their family — it just put confirmation in my heart that we knew that we knew.”

UK recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow doesn’t think Gran is the grandpa of the family, more like the wise father.

“I can see it, but Eddie ain’t that old,” he laughed.   “Kind of like how I am up north, I think Eddie has a good knack.  People respect him.  He’s been doing it for awhile and I think he comes off as a father-figure to a lot of them guys.  I think he’s trustworthy.  They look at that and a lot of guys want to send their players to him.”

If the parents ever want to send their son home, despite the distance, they’re never that far away.  Allegiant Airlines offers a $100 round trip flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Lexington that leaves Florida early Saturday morning and returns Sunday afternoon.

The reputation Gran has developed over the years in South Florida has given UK logo recognition.  Once restricted only for the Florida football powerhouses, now Kentucky is one of the big dogs.

“It’s really well-known down here, probably more than a lot of the other colleges that aren’t so close like Miami, FSU and Florida,” Nik Scalzo said.  “It’s definitely bigger down here than it probably is anywhere else, other than Lexington.”

After beating Florida at The Swamp, Kentucky’s logo has left an even more lasting impression in South Florida.

“It’s huge,” Gran said last week.  “This just puts a feather in the cap, and you’ve got a chance to go down there and do more.”

Vince Marrow and Mark Stoops Watched Top In-State Recruits Friday Night

Marrow with Frankfort’s Wandale Robinson (@Robinson_era)

The Kentucky football coaches were busy working Friday night.  Vince Marrow and Mark Stoops hit the road to see some of the state’s most-talented football players.

Marrow’s night began in Louisville with a match-up between a pair of UK recruits.  Wide receiver commit Demontae “TaeTae” Crumes scored a pair of touchdowns, including a 41-yarder, to lead Butler to a 62-13 over Doss and three-star athlete Shawnkel Knight-Goff.

On Marrow’s way back to Lexington, he stopped in Frankfort to hangout with Mark Stoops at the Western Hills-Frankfort game.  Wandale Robinson treated UK’s coaches to a spectacular performance.  The nation’s No. 4 all-purpose back rushed for 242 yards and 2 touchdowns, he caught a 21-yard touchdown pass and returned a punt 96 yards for a touchdown in a 41-23 win.

WATCH: Highlights from UK Commits Nik Scalzo and Nik Ognenovic


Kentucky’s future quarterback will bring a familiar face with him to Lexington.  Quarterback Nik Scalzo and tight end Nik Ognenovic lead one of South Florida’s most potent passing attacks, and last night KSR was there to watch them do work.

Referred to as “The Two Niks,” each one has notable size.  I’m a big guy, yet Ognenovic towers over me.  He’s at least 6’6″ 240 pounds and can move.  Primarily used in the slot of Cardinal Gibbons’ Air Raid offense, Scalzo threw to him often, but only when I didn’t have the video ready.  However, there are a few highlights out there.

If that doesn’t impress you, watch Ognenovic run the floor in transition.

Scalzo’s size is talked about for all of the wrong reasons.  Standing only about 6′ tall, his height kept away all of the other traditional college football powerhouses.  Scalzo’s size does not limit his accuracy.  He put this pass on the money.

What he lacks in size he makes up for in agility.  Elusive in the pocket before letting it fly, he’ll draw comparisons to Johnny Manzeil and Baker Mayfield, his favorite football player.  For a reference closer to home, I see a young Stefan LeFors running around before the ball flies.  On one occasion, he broke down two players before completing a jump pass in one of the most entertaining football plays I’ve ever seen.  Here are a few more:


Kentucky is the first to offer Frank Gore’s son

Miami Dolphins running back Frank Gore is nearing the end of his very successful NFL career, but there will be another Frank Gore carrying a football for years to come.

Gore’s son, Frank Gore Jr., is already drawing some attention as a junior at Killian High School in Miami. He picked up his first scholarship offer this week, courtesy of Mark Stoops and the University of Kentucky.

Stoops coached at the University of Miami when Gore was a star for the Hurricanes in the early 2000s, so there’s a big connection there. I don’t know much about the younger Gore, but he has a strong resemblance to his old man.

If he runs like him, let’s hope he takes Stoops up on that offer.

A Pair of UK Commits will watch the Cats at The Swamp

247 Sports

Most recruiting trips happen at a school’s home campus.  It’s a norm that will not apply when Kentucky travels to Florida.

Tomorrow morning a pair of Kentucky commits, quarterback Nik Scalzo and tight Nik Ognenovic, will be in The Swamp to watch the Cats try to snap the streak against the Gators.  The Cardinal Gibbons High School teammates and their families will load up an RV and make the 300-mile trip from Ft. Lauderdale to Gainesville.

Last week Scalzo set two new school records for career passing yards (3,280) and touchdowns (44).  Yesterday I spoke with the two Niks for more than an hour and will be on-hand tonight when they take on Dillard High School, the alma mater of three current Kentucky Wildcats — Jordan Wright, Bryce Oliver and Stanley Garner.

Three Louisville Recruits were in Lexington Yesterday

Three top recruits out of Louisville from the 2019 class were at Kroger field yesterday. Jared Casey, JJ Weaver, and Tae Tae Crumes were all present for UK’s victory over Central Michigan.

Jared Casey is a three-star inside linebacker from Ballard high school. He is currently also being recruited by Louisville, Cincinnati, and Oregon. He is listed at 6’3 and 220 lbs; he is ranked as the number 17 inside linebacker in the nation, and the eighth best player in the state.

Check out his highlights from his time at Trinity:

JJ Weaver is a four-star prospect from Moore Traditional School; Weaver is also being recruited by Miami, Georiga, Purdue, Louisville, and Cincinnati. Weaver is a 6’6, 240 lb; defensive end ranked as the sixth-best player out of Kentucky in the 2019 class. Oh, and he can play some receiver too, just check out his highlights below.

Finally, UK commit, Tae Tae Crumes. The Butler wide receiver is ranked as the tenth best player in the state of Kentucky in the 2019 class, and committed to UK back in June. Michigan, Memphis, and EKU recruited him. He de-committed from Louisville before giving his verbal to the Cats.

Want some highlights on him as Well? Just watch below.

Follow Me on Twitter: @BrentW_KSR

Top Defensive Line Target will Officially Visit UK This Weekend


SEC football games are won in the trenches.  This weekend Kentucky will have an opportunity to impress one of their top remaining defensive line targets.

Three-star defensive tackle Isaiah Gibson will be in Lexington this weekend to complete his official visit. One of the nation’s top fifty interior defensive linemen, Gibson is coached by former Wildcat Moe Douglass and plays alongside four-star UK commit Moses Douglass at Springfield High School in Ohio.

Defensive tackle is arguably the toughest position to recruit, but the Cats already have one defensive line commitment in the 2019 class, Toledo’s Cavon Butler.  If they can lock up a commitment from Gibson, UK’s interior will be fortified for the future.

Unless plans change, Gibson will make his college decision September 19.  He has already taken official visits to Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  Georgia, Florida and Michigan State are also finalists, but it appears that Wisconsin is UK’s toughest competition.

Gibson won’t be the only Kentucky football recruit on campus.  A few in-state stars, like John Young and Beau Allen, could also make the trip to Lexington.

Watch a UK Football Commit on ESPN2


One week before the college football season begins, ESPN is airing games between some of the nation’s top high school football programs.  Tonight in primetime you will find a UK commit on the field.

Offensive tackle Jake Pope will wear No. 67 for the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints.  A three-star prospect, Pope was recruited by Eddie Gran and committed to Kentucky in May.  The nation’s No. 11 team will host DeMatha (Md.) at 7:00 on ESPN2.

Another UK recruit will play for Aquinas on the other side of the line of scrimmage.  Defensive end Braylen Ingraham wears No. 9 for the Saints.  After taking an official visit this summer, the Cats made Ingraham’s top six.  UK will have to beat out Miami, Oklahoma, Oregon, Florida and Alabama for Ingraham’s services.

WATCH: Friday Night Highlights from UK Football Recruits

Marrow with Frankfort’s Wandale Robinson (@Robinson_era)

While we wait for Kentucky football to begin, we have a little taste of what the future of UK football might look like.  Below you’ll find the best of the best from UK recruits and commits.

Wandale Robinson had 294 yards and five touchdowns on 12 touches. The punt return touchdown is absolutely incredible.  Lesson learned: NEVER kick it to Wandale.

DeMarcus Harris‘ highlights might be even dumber than Robinson’s.  The UK commit from Vero Beach, Florida caught touchdown passes from 31, 35, 40 and 63 yards.  His final stat line: 8 receptions,255 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Lexington Catholic junior quarterback Beau Allen had a career night.  The UK legacy recruit completed 23 of 31 passes for 357 yards and 7 touchdowns in a win over Ryle.  Here’s one of his best passes that wasn’t a touchdown.

Three-star linebacker and UK commit Tra Wilkins picked off a pass in last night’s game.

This interception from J.J. Weaver is a week old, but it’s so cool it must be shared.

UK commit Demontae “TaeTae” Crumes‘ 65-yard touchdown reception was impressive, but it wasn’t his only big play from Friday night.

WATCH: Kentucky football commit Tra Wilkins is playing LIVE on YouTube

Back in June, Kentucky received a commitment from 2019 three-star linebacker Tra Wilkins.

Wilkins, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound outside linebacker out of Lithonia, GA chose the Cats over Louisville, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Ohio State, and Georgia, among other major programs.

Now, his high school game is being broadcast LIVE on YouTube, where his Stephenson High School team is taking on Southwest DeKalb High School.

Watch below:

Wilkins recorded 75 tackles, five sacks, and three forced fumbles as a junior.

Here are his highlights from last season:

One High School is at the Center of UK’s South Florida Pipeline

Mark Stoops immediately injected energy into the Kentucky football program by recruiting elite talent at a rate never seen before at UK.  It all started in Ohio, but since Eddie Gran and Darin Hinshaw joined the coaching staff, the Cats have signed 16 players from the state of Florida over the last two years.

The epicenter of Kentucky’s recruiting pipeline is in Broward County.  Located north of Miami in the area surrounding Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood is where you’ll find Chaminade-Madonna High School.  In the previous two recruiting classes alone, Kentucky has signed five players from Chaminade-Madonna.

“It’s a takeover,” freshman defensive end Davoan Hawkins said at UK Media Day.  “They got all of us up here.  Eddie Gran, the man is a guru when it comes to recruiting.  He told us if we come here and end up producing, we’ll get good results.  We trusted the process.  Now it’s time to take over campus.”

Hawkins, a three-star recruit who spurned late advances from Miami, is one of three Lions who decided to become Wildcats at the collegiate level after winning a 3A state championship in 2017, the program’s first state championship in 12 years.  Hawkins is joined by a pair of wide receivers, B.J. Alexander and Akeem Hayes.  Gran sold the trio a familiar message.

“Chaminade wasn’t a winning program until most of us got there,” Hayes, a former UofL commit, told KSR.  “We’re trying to do the same thing to Kentucky that we did to Chaminade.”

“We can come up here and make an impact,” Hawkins said. “It will pave the way for a lot of new recruits that’s coming up.  A lot of people look at Kentucky as not like a big name school, but we’re finna change the program so we can let the world know it’s one of the best in the nation.”

Alexander, a 6’4″ wide receiver who could contend for significant playing time this fall, said they were sold not long after visiting UK’s campus.

“That’s just good recruiting by Coach Gran.  He talked to us and we bought into it,” Alexander said.  “Then we came on a visit and we really fell in love.  It was a package deal really.”

The three new guys have familiar faces helping them during training camp.  Sophomore wide receiver Josh Ali is a Chaminade-Madonna alum, as is defensive lineman Chris Whittaker.  While the receivers take pointers from Ali, Whittaker gave Hawkins some advice before moving to Lexington.

“He told me to come out here with an open head.  No matter what, even if they’re veterans, just try to go heads up with them.  It really doesn’t matter.  There’s no hiding out here.  They won’t sugarcoat nothing with you.  You can’t sugarcoat anything with them.  It’s time to go ahead and ball.”

At the midway point of training camp, some of the Chaminade-Madonna freshman have already impressed Kentucky’s coaches.  Even though Akeem Hayes is only 5’8″, he’s been fearless in the slot.  There’s a lot of depth at the defensive line, but Hawkins is determined to play right away.

“I’m going to let you know right now, the redshirt situation, it’s not on my radar,” said Hawkins.  “I feel that I can do a whole lot better than a redshirt.  If it comes down to that, I gotta take it, but the way I”m feeling about camp, that redshirt is not about to be on me.”

Eddie Gran has brought plenty of swagger from Chaminade-Madonna to Kentucky.  The underclassmen are talented enough to play this fall.  If they produce, this could be just the beginning of the “South Florida takeover.”