Football Recruiting News
Less than two weeks after committing to Kentucky, Shawnkel Knight-Goff is reopening his recruitment. The defensive end/outside linebacker from Louisville Doss said on Twitter that he wants to take more time before making a final decision.
I would like to gracefully thank University Of Kentucky for their efforts in recruiting me . University of Kentucky is a great school. I feel as if my commitment was rushed and not fully thought through and I want to make the best decision for my future. Therefore, I plan to research my decision a little further. I’m going to open my recruiting process back up as I continue my search for the college that is best fit for my career & most importantly, my education. Again, thank you Kentucky for your interest.
The move by the three-star pass-rusher does not come as a surprise. His initial commitment was odd; he told Justin Rowland he committed to UK, but did not announce it publicly until much later. Shortly after he made his decision, there were rumblings that it would not stick.
Knight-Goff is no longer committed, but Kentucky will still recruit the two-sport star from Louisville. By the sounds of his announcement, Knight-Goff will listen to every word Vince Marrow and the Kentucky coaches have to say until he makes a final decision.
By Nick Roush on ©May 29th, 2018 @ 5:00pm
The last weekend of May serves as the unofficial start of the summer. While many of you were enjoying barbecues or a little time on the lake, the Kentucky football coaching staff logged a few hours recruiting. Here are a few developments from the frontline:
1. UK Makes Cut for Elite Defensive Ends
Top 300 defensive end Michael Fletcher has set a decision date. On June 29 he will choose between Alabama, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan State, Michigan and Kentucky. The 6’5″ 240-pound four-star athlete will officially visit UK on June 15, two weeks before he makes a final decision. It could be just in time for the Cats to gain momentum with the Flint, Michigan native.
Another highly-touted Michigan pass rusher, Ruke Orhorhoro, announced a top four today: Clemson, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky. Orhorhoro will officially visit Kentucky on June 8, the opening weekend of camps at Kroger Field that will serve as the Cats’ first big recruiting weekend of the summer.
2. DeAndre Square Recruiting Michigan Kids
Kentucky outside linebacker DeAndre Square is the first player from Michigan to enroll at UK in years. He’ll be joined by Marquan McCall when freshmen report to camp this weekend. In the meantime, Square is doing what he can to make sure more from Michigan make the trip down I-75.
Friday night, he posted pictures with a few of the best from The Great Lakes State. Square posed alongside offensive guard Justin Rogers and safety Marvin Grant.
— DeAndre Square (@d_square10) May 26, 2018
Rogers (left) is really, really, really good. He’ll just be a junior this fall, but the Oak Park native has already picked up 35 scholarship offers and is considered the No. 13 player in the 2020 class by 247 Sports. Rogers is a long way from making a decision, but the Cats were one of the first to offer and he’s made the trip to Lexington a handful of times.
Kentucky is considered the favorite for Grant, a four-star 2019 prospect that is eighth-ranked safety and No. 126 player overall according to Rivals. It looked like he was going to commit to UK earlier this spring, until he pushed back his initial decision date. Grant is one player you definitely need to keep an eye on.
3. UK Offers Enormous Tennessee Commit
If you follow UK football recruiting, you’ll see new offers extended almost daily. Not all are noteworthy, but the latest offer to Darel Middleton is.
A 6’7″ 290-pound defensive tackle, Middleton is an absolute monster. Hailing from Oak Ridge, Tennessee, he originally committed to Tennessee in 2013. Middleton never made it to Knoxville and spent the last season playing for East Mississippi C.C. He recommitted to the Vols in April. Middleton has one more season in Scooba, enough time for UK to make a move.
4. Bad News/Good News at Offensive Guard
First, the bad news. Jamari Williams, a three-star offensive guard for Nik Scalzo’s Cardinal Gibbons, committed to UofL Friday night. An expected move, Kentucky was one step ahead. The weekend prior UK hosted Zach Carpenter, the nation’s No. 20 offensive guard who plays for Cincinnati Moeller, the same school as future Kentucky tight end Brenden Bates. Carpenter gave UK an exceptional review in a conversation with 247’s Steve Wiltfong.
“The visit to Kentucky was good,” Carpenter started in. “I got the chance to meet the coaches and Coach (John) Schlarman went over formations and blocking schemes, but I enjoyed being quizzed by what calls to make based on defensive formations and alignment they gave me.
“I enjoyed talking to Coach (Eddie) Gran because we talked about the importance of faith which plays an important role in my decision. Then I talked to Coach (Mark) Stoops and he told us how they are turning things around with the program. He also talked about where he saw me in the program and we were able to see facilities and toured campus.”
To get Carpenter to Kentucky, UK will have to beat out Clemson, no small task for Vince Marrow.
5. Terry Wilson Worked Out in Arizona
It’s not technically recruiting-related, but it was kind of cool to see Terry “Touchdown” Wilson workout with kids at this weekend’s quarterback academy in Scottsdale, Arizona.
— Derek Rasmussen (@derekrasmussen) May 26, 2018
Well, this changes things.
Wandale Robinson, arguably Kentucky’s top remaining recruit from the Commonwealth, officially received a scholarship offer from Ohio State, he announced this morning on Twitter.
— Wandale Robinson (@robinson__era) May 23, 2018
Considered the No. 9 all-purpose back in the nation, the Frankfort native has been recruited by Ohio State for quite some time. Two weeks ago Robinson told KSR, “Ohio State’s been on me really hard, but still has not offered me. It’s kind of weird.”
Robinson’s recruitment appeared to be a two-horse race between Kentucky and Duke, but now that Ohio State has firmly entered the picture it will be exponentially more difficult for Vince Marrow to keep one of the Commonwealth’s best from leaving the state of Kentucky. Marrow has taken top recruits from the state of Ohio for years. Now Ohio State is out for revenge.
By Nick Roush on ©May 22nd, 2018 @ 4:00pm
Todd Hartley is mad on the internet.
The Miami tight ends coach is a little salty after The U lost their second commitment in three days last night. This morning he fired off the following not-so-subtle Tweet:
Funny, coming from The University of Miami. It’s not like they just flipped Kentucky’s highest-ranked recruit to The U last Sunday. Or that their four-star quarterback originally committed to Kentucky, de-committed, re-committed then flipped to Miami just before signing day.
Pot, meet kettle.
By Nick Roush on ©May 22nd, 2018 @ 1:30pm
Last week Eddie Gran received a commitment from South Florida quarterback, Nik Scalzo. An unheralded three-star recruit, we heard the Baker Mayfield comparisons and a few more anecdotes, but there’s much more to learn about UK’s next signal-caller.
To find out more about Scalzo, I sought somebody who knows him quite well, his coach at Cardinal Gibbons, Matt DuBuc. After a 15-minute conversation with KSR, there are a few things that should make you excited to see Scalzo in Kentucky blue.
1. Air Raid Roots
Scalzo has been tagged as a dual-threat quarterback by 247 Sports, but that’s not necessarily the case. Throughout his quarterbacking career, he’s led an Air Raid offense. That tag can often be misleading, especially for Kentucky fans who recall the years Tim Couch fired up the sirens at Commonwealth Stadium.
DuBuc runs the same offense Hal Mumme operated at Kentucky, because he learned it from Mumme’s most successful disciple, Mike Leach.
“It is very similar. I went to Texas Tech, so I know Mike Leach very well. It’s very similar to the Air Raid he ran at Texas Tech and Washington State.” DuBuc told KSR. “We’re running very similar things to what you saw when Leach was there, and Mumme, at Cardinal Gibbons.”
2. Scalzo Loves the Deep Ball
There are differences in the offense Scalzo runs and the one that Tim Couch ran at Kentucky. The foundation of that offense was to get the ball into open space, often with short passes, then let playmakers make plays.
“That’s how I teach it, but unfortunately, he likes to take the big shots,” DuBuc said with a laugh. “On almost every play we have a pre-snap read where we have a vertical route. If he feels like we can win on that vertical route, he’ll take it. We’re not necessarily dink and dunk. The Air Raid’s evolved a little bit more in the last few years where there’s a lot more vertical throws within the diamond concept, but if you want to throw for a lot of yards in this offense, you gotta utilize the backs. The backs are key.”
One of the running backs, Vincent Davis, is also a Kentucky target. More on him later.
3. He’s Always Been Undersized
DuBuc first began training Scalzo when the quarterback was in middle school. If he’s considered undersized now at 5’11”, you should have seen him then.
“He was a little 5’3″ kid when we started, but always had a really good arm and good feet, so I thought there was potential there.”
It did not take long for that potential to turn into production.
“His freshman year he threw for almost 2,000 yards on JV, and you could just tell — ball placement, moxie, athletic ability. He had those things and he’s smart. He came in here and got a 4.5 GPA. He’s just done it the right way.”
He was only about 5’8″ in that first season. As his game grew, luckily he did too.
4. The Comparisons to Mayfield, Manzeil are Fair
Following Scalzo’s commitment, many eyes rolled when he was compared to two of the last six Heisman Trophy winners. I’ll admit, I was one of them, but DuBuc makes a good case for the comparisons.
“I think he’s very similar to Baker Mayfield and Johnny Manzeil. I think he’s got a lot of their qualities as a playmaker. The one thing in the Air Raid — Tim Couch was not really able to, when the pocket collapsed, he had to get it out or throw it away and play on second down. Nik has that ability, even though we’re running the Air Raid, when things break down he’s able to continue the play, but look to throw and not to run. He gets a lot of balls out there to guys that they can’t cover for more than three or four seconds.”
5. Not a Runner
Scalzo has the dual-threat tag. His coach said it’s not because he’s going to run for 1,000 yards. He’s quick enough to escape the pocket, but once that happens, he looks to throw instead of run. That development of Scalzo’s game makes his coach proud.
“That’s natural for him. We had to break him a little bit when he got here — like a wild pony and put a saddle on him — because a lot of times when things broke down early, he ran out. I challenged him and in the later half of last year he really became a pocket passer. He ran when he needed to, but he wasn’t looking to run. He was looking to throw. I think that’s where his game has really taken the next step.”
DuBuc added: “The thing with most quarterbacks at 5’11, when things break down they run. This guy is looking to throw, and I think that’s why he’s thrown 50 touchdowns in two years.”
6. Eddie Gran is an Excellent Evaluator
Kentucky’s offensive coordinator has developed an outstanding reputation in South Florida. DuBuc has the utmost respect for the longtime SEC assistant who has developed relationships at Florida’s top high school programs.
“Eddie Gran does a phenomenal job recruiting the schools. He has a great eye for talent,” DuBuc said.
Where other schools only see Scalzo’s size, Gran sees a competent quarterback that can move an offense down the field efficiently.
“Eddie I would say is not taking a risk. He is taking the best player available. I think a lot of teams think, ‘You gotta be 6-foot or you gotta be 6-1.’ I think Eddie’s really figured out that one inch on somebody’s height isn’t going to change the day. Can they win? Can they perform? Can they lead people? Can they do the things necessary to move the chains? He sees that in Nik.”
7. They Gotta Beat American Heritage
Cardinal Gibbons has one team keeping them from getting over the hump. Coached by three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Patrick Surtain, American Heritage was ranked No. 14 in the nation by the USA Today Super 25 at season’s end. I’ll let DuBuc explain how they got there…
“We were 11-2 last year and lost in the third round to American Heritage 58-57 in triple overtime on a blocked extra point. They ended up going 15-0 and winning the state championship with a running clock. That’s a district game for us. Nik and I in the two years I’ve been the head coach are 21-4, and all four losses are to American Heritage. We definitely got them on our sights.”
Scalzo and DuBuc will have another shot at American Heritage on October 12.
8. Talented Teammates
Scalzo isn’t UK’s only recruit at Cardinal Gibbons. Near the top of Gran’s recruiting board at running back is Vincent Davis. A three-star prospect, he holds offers from UK, Boston College, Syracuse and a dozen others.
“Vince is a 10.7 100 meters. He’s about 5’9″, 175 and can flat out guy,” DuBuc said. “He runs very hard for a smaller back. He’s a guy that you gotta get the ball in his hands any which way.”
Scalzo’s tight end, Nikolas Ognenovic, has traveled to Kentucky with his quarterback. The 6’5″ target rarely puts his hand in the dirt in Gibbons’ Air Raid offense, which essentially makes him another receiver, “but he’s 240 pounds.”
The other teammate Kentucky is recruiting, offensive lineman Jamari Williams, will choose between Kentucky and Louisville this Friday.
9. Where Scalzo Needs to Improve
Scalzo is far from a polished product. The high school junior needs to improve on his decision-making, among other things.
“You kind of always use the word “maturity” for every player. The maturity of understanding that you don’t have to take the deep shot. You don’t have to force the ball. You don’t have to run out of the pocket. Those are all maturity things.
“I think he’s a pretty good student of the game. By the time he gets up to you guys, he’ll probably be 6-foot 195, 200 pounds. He’s a workout guy. He works hard in the gym.”
10. A Playmaker
Nik Scalzo has come a long way since DuBuc first met the 5’3″ seventh grader. He’s grown physically and mentally. Scalzo was not handed a ticket to college football. He had to work to earn his offer from Kentucky. Scalzo was not born with god-gifted measurements, but he did receive one gift: the ability to make plays.
“He wanted to play in the ACC or SEC. He got those opportunities because he makes plays. That’s the bottom line.”
The Kentucky football team has extended a scholarship offer to the fastest-rising prospect in the region.
Entering the spring season, Jared Casey only had scholarship offers from Purdue, Toledo and Cincinnati. He transferred form Trinity to Ballard last year, but had to miss the entire season with a torn labrum. He returned to football this spring on the camping circuit. After taking home the linebacker MVP honors at the Rivals Camp in Nashville, the unranked recruit became a four-star prospect.
Now a consensus Top 20 linebacker in the country, Casey has picked up offers from Syracuse, Oregon, and Temple since the Rivals camp. Vince Marrow could not ignore Casey. Today the Big Dog visited Casey at Ballard and extended him a scholarship offer. It’s Casey’s first SEC offer and just his second in-state offer, behind only EKU.
Casey grew up a UofL fan, and he’s taken unofficial visits to the Cards’ campus, but the Cats offered him first.
You can learn more about Casey’s development from WLKY’s Dan Koob, who visited him at school last week.
By Nick Roush on ©May 21st, 2018 @ 4:00pm
Kentucky could add another offensive lineman to the 2019 recruiting class this week. Three-star offensive lineman Jamari Williams said on Twitter he will announce his college decision this Friday.
A 6’4″ 275-pound lineman from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Williams plays with Kentucky quarterback commit Nik Scalzo. He holds more than 25 scholarship offers, but Williams’ decision is ultimately between two teams: Kentucky and Louisville.
Williams has proclaimed the Cats and the Cards as his leader at different points during his recruitment. UofL most recently earned that title on April 24, about two weeks after he visited Lexington for UK’s spring game, a trip he described as “perfect.” As of today, the banner of his Twitter profile is this:
It’s a safe bet that Williams will commit to Louisville, but Scalzo’s commitment to UK could have changed things enough to put him in blue. Stay tuned to KSR this Friday to see who will win the recruiting battle.
By Nick Roush on ©May 19th, 2018 @ 10:30pm
The Kentucky football team is gaining momentum just in time for peak summer recruiting season.
Mark Stoops has added four commitments since Sunday, and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. Two members of UK’s 2019 recruiting class — Eli Cox and Shawnkel Knight-Goff — are Kentucky kids. The floodgates could be broken for more top prospects from the Commonwealth to commit to Kentucky. Here are the candidates:
Defensive End | 6-6 | 230 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Moore Traditional
|ESPN||50 DE| 7 KY||Top 247||23 DE | 6 KY|
|Rivals||— | 8 KY||247 Comp.||35 DE | 6 KY|
Weaver is not originally from Louisville. A native of Broward County, Florida, home of Nik Scalzo and Jake Pope, Weaver moved to Kentucky in eighth grade. Last week the defensive end took an unofficial visit to Kentucky last weekend. He left impressed.
“UK is showing me the most love right now,” Weaver told Rivals’ Dave Lackford. Once perceived as a Louisville lean, he shot down that notion and complimented Kentucky’s campus. Playing in the SEC is a big draw, but UK isn’t the only SEC school after Weaver. Georgia is also pursuing Weaver, along with Miami and Purdue.
If Weaver had to commit today, he’d probably pick UK, but he will wait until his birthday on November 30 to decide. Until then, Vince Marrow will be talking to the elite defensive end frequently.
Running Back/Linebacker | 6-3 | 225 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | DuPont Manual
|ESPN||36 RB| 8 KY||Top 247||48 RB | 9 KY|
|Rivals||— | 10 KY||247 Comp.||62 RB | 10 KY|
Robbins was once seen as a shoe-in to Vanderbilt, until Marrow got involved. He took an unofficial visit to Lexington and now the Cats are sitting comfortably. Matt House told the Manual athlete he could play linebacker too, but Eddie Gran wants Robbins at running back. It looks like Robbins is seeking some advice from a pretty good one.
Yo can you dm me?
— Aidan Robbins (@theaidanrobbins) May 17, 2018
Robbins has already taken an official visit to Vanderbilt. He’s set for officials at Missouri, Purdue and Kentucky before he makes his decision at the end of the summer.
All-Purpose Back | 5-9 | 180 lbs.
Frankfort, Ky. | Western Hills
|ESPN||33 ATH| 6 KY||Top 247||6 APB | 7 KY|
|Rivals||— | 9 KY||247 Comp.||9 APB | 9 KY|
Arguably the state’s best athlete, the Frankfort all-purpose back will most likely play slot receiver at the next level. Marrow is pitching him the opportunity to be the next Lynn Bowden. The Cats made some serious headway after an unofficial visit last weekend, but 247’s Steve Wiltfong still believes Robinson will become a Duke Blue Devil. Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State are also in the mix. Expect to hear Robinson’s decision prior to the end of summer.
Athlete | 6-3 | 190 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Christian Academy of Louisville
|ESPN||44 WR| 5 KY||Top 247||3 ATH | 1 KY|
|Rivals||33 WR| 2 KY||247 Comp.||13 ATH | 3 KY|
He’s the most mysterious recruit in Kentucky and the highest-ranked. The wide receiver/athlete is the No. 55 player in America according to 247. A quiet kid who doesn’t have a Twitter account, it’s impossible to read where Wright stands. He also hasn’t really taken any visits; those will happen later this summer. Wright has a final five — UK, UofL, Alabama, Purdue and Ohio State — but the favorite to win Mr. Football is a long way from making an announcement.
|Demontae “TaeTae” Crumes
Wide Receiver | 6-1 | 165 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Butler Traditional
|ESPN||–| —||Top 247||111 WR | 10 KY|
|Rivals||–| —||247 Comp.||93 WR | 8 KY|
The Butler wide receiver committed to Louisville just days after receiving a scholarship offer. Once Kentucky and other offers started rolling in, Crumes realized he needed to see everything the recruiting process had to offer. No longer a UofL commit, Michigan, Michigan State and Oregon have extended scholarship offers. Even if UK doesn’t land him, the Cats’ offer effectively took away a player from Bobby Petrino. Well done.
Jared Casey — The Louisville inside linebacker has flown under the radar. He transferred form Trinity to Ballard last year, but had to miss the entire season with a torn labrum. Last week he burst onto the recruiting scene by winning MVP honors for his position at the Rivals Camp in Nashville. Oregon took notice and offered Casey. Kentucky might not be far behind.
Trel Riley — A cornerback from Caldwell County, he only has offers from WKU and UT-Martin, but UK could enter the picture.
Langston Jackson — Like Casey, the athlete from Henry Clay missed his junior football season with an injury. Jackson recovered from a torn MCL to win today’s 3A State Title in the 100M. He told the Herald-Leader that Dean Hood has been in touch. Maybe Jackson is the next Charles Moushey?
By Nick Roush on ©May 16th, 2018 @ 8:32pm
The commitments continue to roll in for Mark Stoops.
Just two days after quarterback Nik Scalzo committed to Kentucky, the Cats picked up an offensive tackle to protect him. Jake Pope, a 6’7″ 275-pound three-star offensive lineman from Ft. Lauderdale, announced his decision to come to Kentucky on Twitter.
Pope resides just down the road from Scalzo. A right tackle at St. Thomas Aquinas, the private school frequents national rankings and consistently produces Power Five talent.
A top 100 offensive tackle, Pope also held offers from Virginia Tech, Michigan State, UCF, Pitt and N.C. State. Pope is the sixth commitment in Kentucky’s 2019 class, and the 16th player from South Florida to commit to Kentucky over the last two years.
See Pope’s best work:
Kentucky’s latest quarterback commit wants the Big Blue Nation to know he’s here for the long haul.
This morning a pair of interviews with Scalzo were released by Rivals’ Justin Rowland and SEC Country’s Joe Mussatto. Each interview ended with a question about the previous UK quarterback pledges that de-committed. Scalzo gave the same response to both.
“That’s not me. I stay true to my word,” he told Mussatto. “I’m 110 percent committed to Kentucky and I don’t care if Alabama comes to my door knocking. Nothing’s gonna change my mind. All the fans out there, just know that I’m not gonna do what these past quarterbacks have done these last few years.”
He went one step further with Rowland, and even took a shot at Alabama in his response. Rowland asked: “If Nick Saban calls you tomorrow and asks you to win his sixth, seventh and eighth national titles there, what would you say?”
Scalzo replied, “I would say, ‘I’m going to win a national championship at Kentucky.'”
Scalzo’s predecessors shared a similar sentiment while committed to Kentucky. Mac Jones frequently Tweeted things along the lines of “100-percent committed,” while Jarren Williams said he was shutting down his recruitment after his second commitment to UK, even though he eventually flipped to Miami.
Take Scalzo’s comments for what you will, however, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy the interviews with the South Florida quarterback. You’ll discover his father played football at Clemson, he’s an adrenaline junky who loves skydiving and much more.