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Rivals Makes Jarren Williams a Four-Star Quarterback

Kentucky’s dual-threat 2018 quarterback commit Jarren Williams was reranked today by Rivals.  As expected, Williams jumped up the recruiting circuit’s rankings from a three to a four-star prospect.

Now considered the No. 22 quarterback in the country by Rivals, they are the second recruiting service to give Williams the coveted four-star status.  ESPN ranks Williams as the No. 11 quarterback in the class and No. 257 overall player.  He is the No. 13 dual-threat QB in 247’s ratings and the No. 30 QB by Scout, who both list him as a three-star prospect.

Many people refuse to get excited about football recruits until National Signing Day.  After Williams committed, decommitted then recommitted, (his words were, “I’m committed 100%. I’m shutting it all down.”) it’s safe to say the only recruiting updates from Kentucky’s future quarterback will be about his rise in the national rankings.


Michigan isn’t a Threat to Flip Marquan McCall

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At one time, Michigan was the leader in Marquan McCall’s recruitment.  Then McCall started taking visits to Kentucky.  Before long, Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines were out of the picture and the No. 1 player in the state of Michigan committed to Kentucky.

“Michigan, I don’t know,” he told Land of 10’s Brandon Justice as he shook his head. “That was a good school. I always had my head in them. [Michigan] was definitely my No. 1 school [before the communication cut off]. But as I went on trips to Kentucky, they kept showing me more and more love. Then I committed.”

Currently the highest-ranked recruit to commit to Kentucky’s 2018 class, McCall is considered the nation’s No. 3 offensive guard and the No. 94 player overall by Rivals.  McCall said Kentucky’s persistence and family atmosphere made him pull the trigger and commit.

“I took a couple visits [to Kentucky], and on my third visit, it got in my head [to commit]. Then they started treating me like family,” McCall said. “No schools were really hitting me up. Kentucky stayed on me and kept making sure that I was good. So, that’s where I went.”

Is there a chance Harbaugh could try to flip McCall and convince him to stay home?

“I haven’t heard from Michigan in … a minute,” he said. “They didn’t really talk to me, so, I guess, that was kind of it.”

He is no longer hearing from Michigan or Michigan State, but Oregon has entered the picture.  McCall plans to visit Eugene this fall or summer.

[Land of 10]


Kentucky makes Top Seven of 3-Star Running Back

Kentucky makes Top Seven of 3-Star Running Back

The Cats have made the final seven of a 3-star running back out of Melbourne, Florida. Lavonte Valentine is the number 13 all-purpose back in the class of 2018. An all-purpose back is one who has success as both a runner and a receiver. He currently does hold an offer from the Cats.  His final seven includes: LSU, Florida, Louisville, South Carolina, USC, Notre Dame and Kentucky. Right now, his Crystal Ball projections are set at 50% Florida and 50% South Carolina, but as we have learned, you can never count out Eddie Gran and company.

Valentine does feature blistering speed. He won the Florida 4A State Championship in the 100m dash by running it in 10.61 seconds. His personal record is a 10.44. Earlier this year, Valentine also set the National Record by running the 60 meter dash in 6.77 seconds. You can watch him work down below:

@GormleyKSR


I don’t know how to feel about this picture of Joker Phillips with a UK Commit

@bluesmith_

You are looking a picture of Alex Reigelsperger, a four-star pass rushing Kentucky commit, and Joker Phillips, a former UK player, head coach and current Cincinnati assistant coach.  Reigelsperger is rocking Bearcats’ attire.  The picture was taken by Reigelsperger’s teammate, Blue Smith, the nation’s top-ranked athlete and Vince Marrow’s most coveted recruit left in Ohio.  The picture was taken at the University of Cincinnati.

I don’t know what to say, other than: “Back the hell off, Joker.”


Offers keep rolling in for Jacques-Louis

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This time last week I told you about how Michigan State extended a scholarship offer to UK commit Shocky Jacques-Louis and how it upset me that teams are going after one of my favorite players in the class.

Well now we have bigger problems because, since then, Jacques-Louis has gotten offers from Tennessee, Pittsburgh and, as of today, Michigan.

He shared the Michigan news on Twitter today:

Can y’all please back off?

Mark Stoops called dibs.


Harbaugh image via Getty

Stoops is Trying to Steal Another 2018 Recruit from Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh image via Getty

Two weeks ago Mark Stoops received a commitment from best player from Michigan, offensive guard Marquan McCall, stealing a prospect from right under Jim Harbaugh’s nose.  Now the Kentucky head coach is in a good position to land a four-star linebacker from Jacksonville, Florida that Michigan has been recruiting for over a year.

Last night former Maryland commit Eriq Gilyard released his top six schools: Kentucky, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia Tech, N.C. State and UCF.  The Top 35 linebacker in the 2018 class plays for a perennial Florida powerhouse and is the son of a former Auburn defensive back.  Gilyard told Gridiron Now he likes what he’s hearing from Kentucky.

“I feel I can go there and be a big-time playmaker,” he said. “I think I would have a chance to make an impact early in my career.  I have a good vibe with the coaches and I feel something at Kentucky is big for me. I felt like they needed to be in my top six.”

Gilyard plans on visiting all six finalists this summer before making a decision in the fall.  I’m sure Stoops would love to put one in Harbaugh’s earhole, just like Gilyard frequently does to his opponents.

[Gridiron Now]


Kentucky Football Offers a Slew of Players

The train keeps rolling for Mark Stoops and company, as the UK football staff extended offers to 8 high school players yesterday. The full player rundown comes from Josh Edwards at 247Sports:

Kentucky has offered Pompano Beach (Fla.) Blanche Ely cornerback Jamari Brown (6-foot-3, 180), Columbus (Ohio) Northland 2019 running back John Branham Jr. (5-foot-9.5, 195), Anderson (S.C.) Westside kicker Chance Poore (6-foot-3, 200), Hollywood (Fla.) Blanche Ely wide receiver Akeem Hayes (5-foot-10, 175), Miami (Fla.) Norland 2019 offensive tackle Wardrick Wilson (6-foot-4, 295), Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit 2019 tight end Larry Hodges (6-foot-2, 198), Miami (Fla.) Central wide receiver Davonta Wilson (6-foot, 184) and Melbourne (Fla.) Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy 2021 running back KeyShawn Spencer (5-foot-10, 173).

That is what you call casting a wide net.

Of particular note is Akeem Hayes, a 3-star WR in the 2018 class who has actually already committed to Louisville. That would be a fun poach.

You can see the full post and more details on each recruit right here.

@JayWinkKSR


Shocky Jacques-Louis had a Great Spring Game

@ShockyMVP

Of Kentucky’s nine commits in the 2018 football recruiting class, Shocky Jacques-Louis is one of the most popular players.  It’s not based on his play; it’s his awesome name.  Just saying his name is fun, but watching him play football is pretty fun too.

Last night was Jacques-Louis’ spring game in Florida.  The 6’1″ three-star wide receiver had 4 catches for 135 yards and 3 touchdowns.

His touchdown on the deep post to start the highlight video might wow the most, but the other two impressed me more.  He caught a check-down screen pass, didn’t have a block, yet still got around five defenders in 15 yards for a score.  His spin move on the inside-out route broke the defender’s neck before impressively accelerating through the defense.


Back off, Michigan State

Back off, Michigan State

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One of my favorite commits in Mark Stoops’ 2018 class, wide receiver Shocky Jacques-Louis, announced Thursday afternoon that Michigan State has extended him a scholarship offer.

Jacques-Louis committed to Kentucky almost one month ago over several offers, including one from Louisville, and now one of the Cats’ big competitors on the recruiting trail has thrown its name in the hat for his services.

College football recruiting can be so frustrating.


Blue Smith’s Peers Believe He’s Heading to Kentucky

Mike Noyes | Vype

Mike Noyes | Vype

After receiving a handful of big commits over the last two weeks, the Kentucky coaching staff has one of the best athletes in the class in their crosshairs.

L’Christian “Blue” Smith is a 6’5″ outside wide receiver that is considered the No. 1 athlete in the nation and No. 29 prospect overall by Rivals.  A teammate of Alex Reigelsperger at national powerhouse Wayne High School, Vince Marrow has a long-standing relationship with Smith and his peers recognize it.

At last weekend’s Rivals camp in Columbus, they asked fellow prospects to predict the destination of Smith and other prospects.  All four recruits that were polled believe Smith will end up at Kentucky.  Defensive end Tyreke Smith, a Kentucky target from Cleveland, summed it up best.

“I think he will end up at Kentucky. I think he fits in their offense, his teammate is committed down there, it looks like he has a good relationship with the coaching staff and he has been down there a lot.”

Another Kentucky target, Louisville Waggener four-star cornerback Jairus Brents, was one of the top defensive back performers at the camp.  Unfortunately, his peers tend to believe he’s leaning toward Alabama and Louisville.

Rivals did not ask for predictions on four-star tight end/defensive end Leonard Taylor, but they did talk to Taylor about his recent visit to Kentucky.

“I enjoyed myself and I like it down in Kentucky,” Taylor said.  “They are just trying to get me to be part of a good program and they are coming along real well.”

Right now, Kentucky and Ohio State appear to be at the top of Taylor’s list.  Ohio State wants him to play defense, while the Cats want him on offense.  Right now, he has no preference of position and does not plan on making a decision anytime soon.

[Rivals]


Double Yahtzee: Timeline of Williams’ Commitment, Decommitment, Recommitment

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Jarren Williams announced his commitment to the University of Kentucky on Monday for the second time, ending a roller coaster of a recruitment for the Big Blue Nation. (Hopefully.)

When he committed the first time last summer, Williams was the first on the board from the Class of 2018. Then things got a little crazy, Cats fans panicked, and now all is right in the world again.

So as we get caught back up with Kentucky’s next big QB, let’s take a ride down Memory Lane in this timeline of events of the last year.

 


March 25, 2016: Williams took his first unofficial visit to Kentucky.

Williams and some other talented Georgia prospects made a trip to Lexington to check out the University of Kentucky in late March of Williams’ sophomore year, marking the beginning of a strong relationship between the program and the young recruit.

March 26, 2016: Louisville became the first school to offer Williams.

One day after visiting Kentucky, Williams and friends drove over to Louisville to check out the Cardinals’ Saturday practice. He left with a UofL scholarship offer, his first of many offers to come.

Lamar Jackson was one of the main drivers behind his early interest the Cards.

April 2, 2016: Florida State gave Williams his second scholarship offer.

One week after receiving an offer from Louisville, Williams was extended a scholarship offer from Florida State during an unofficial visit to Tallahassee for a ‘Noles scrimmage.

As was the case with Lamar Jackson and Louisville, Williams liked what Jimbo Fisher and the FSU staff did with Jameis Winston.

April 16, 2016: Williams visited his home state school, the University of Georgia, for its spring game.

Williams made his first trip to Georgia for G-Day, the annual spring scrimmage.

April 29, 2016: Williams received a scholarship offer from Kentucky.

A little over a month after his recruiting tour of the Bluegrass, Williams finally received an offer from the Wildcats. Darin Hinshaw, the lead recruiter for UK in Williams’ recruitment, made the trip to Central Gwinnett High School to extend the offer after seeing Williams had made some tweaks to his throwing motion at Hinshaw’s encouragement.

May 3, 2016: Scholarship offer No. 4.

Days after Kentucky gave him his third scholarship offer before the summer after his sophomore year, the University of Colorado came through with a fourth offer.

May 10, 2016: South Florida made it five offers, plus many, many more in May.

Many more would follow South Florida’s offer throughout the month of May. On the 13th he received his sixth offer, from Colorado State, after Central Gwinnett’s spring game; West Virginia would offer on the 16th; Boston College and Maryland each offered on the 18th; followed by Houston on May 27th.

By the time June rolled around, Williams held 10 scholarship offers from around college football.

June 8, 2016: Williams returned to Lexington for summer camp.

Now a hot QB name in the south, Williams made the trip back to Lexington in early June for one of Kentucky’s summer camps, where he stood out among all campers.

During a break in the action, Williams tweeted, “I’m loving it up here #BBN,” which further proved the momentum was moving in the Cats’ favor.

June 16, 2016: Ohio State, Mississippi State in to see Williams at Central Gwinnett camp.

Ohio State and Mississippi State, as well as many others, were in Lawrenceville to watch Williams and his Central Gwinnett teammates in the high school’s elite football camp. OSU head coach Urban Meyer spent some one-on-one time with Williams going over some passing drills, but left town without offering a scholarship.

June 19, 2016: Williams COMMITTED TO KENTUCKY.

Williams took to Twitter to announce his commitment to the Wildcats, telling his followers, “After careful evaluation, I am excited to announce that I have officially committed to the University of Kentucky. I would like to thank my parents for their guidance and support throughout this arduous process. I would like to thank my head coach and all the coaches who played a role in my development. With that said, I am looking forward to joining my new family.”

Big Blue Nation exploded with excitement for the first commitment from the Class of 2018 and the future face of the program.

July 17, 2016: Sunday Night Lights camp in Lexington.

Williams returned to Kentucky once again to help recruit more talent from the 2017 and 2018 classes at UK’s Sunday Night Lights camp. Once a major UK target, Williams became a UK targeter and recruiter himself after announcing his commitment.

September 17, 2016: Williams visited Louisville and Kentucky in one day.

Although he was committed to Kentucky at the time, Williams was in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to catch some of ESPN College GameDay and Louisville’s Sept. 17 game against Florida State. He then made his way to Lexington to see Kentucky host New Mexico State in the Cats’ third game of the season, his first time in Commonwealth Stadium for a UK game.

Williams insisted the Louisville visit was only to see two quarterbacks he admired and that his UK commitment remained solid.

November 2, 2016: South Carolina offered a scholarship.

After some insane numbers throughout his junior season, South Carolina jumped on board the Jarren Williams train by extending him a scholarship offer.

November 10, 2016: Williams invited to U.S. Army All-American combine.

Held in January each year, the U.S. Army All-American combine invites the best underclassmen nationwide to San Antonio for the national combine at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

November 21, 2016: The U offered Williams.

Mark Richt in pursuit of the hot quarterback from his old stomping grounds. It was Williams’ 12th scholarship offer at the time and the second since he committed to Kentucky.

November 29, 2016: Louisville visited Williams in Georgia.

Bobby Petrino’s staff continued to fight the good fight despite Williams being committed to the rival school.

November 30, 2016: Mark Stoops and Darin Hinshaw visited.

Stoops and Hinshaw checked in on their prized commitment at his high school on the third day of the fall contact period, one day after Louisville sent coaches.

December 30, 2016: Williams participated in Georgia’s Rising Senior Bowl.

Williams competed against fellow junior standouts from the state of Georgia in Atlanta’s Rising Senior Bowl. He connected on five of seven passes for 21 yards in a losing effort.

January 18, 2017: Mississippi State offered Williams.

Fast forward to January when another SEC school threw an offer at Williams, making 13 offers on the offer sheet. Many more to come…

January 28, 2017: Williams visits Kentucky again.

This time Williams was in town for Junior Day in Lexington.

January 31, 2017: Missouri offered.

Offer No. 14 in hand, yet another one from the SEC.

February 4, 2017: Tennessee offered.

No. 15.

Big Blue Nation slowly began to panic.

February 17, 2017: Michigan State offered.

No. 16.

March 14, 2017: Ole Miss offered.

No. 17.

March 18, 2017: LSU offered.

No. 18.

March 23, 2017: Florida offered.

No. 19.

Williams now with offers from over half of the SEC.

April 9, 2017: Arizona State offered.

No. 20, this time out of the Pac-12.

April 11, 2017: Alabama offered.

“Alabama?! Here we go again,” we all thought.

April 14, 2017: Williams visited Kentucky for Blue-White game.

Wildcats barely hanging on to that commitment, now that Williams is one of the hottest names in the game.

April 19, 2017: Kansas State offered.

No. 22.

April 24, 2017: Williams DECOMMITTED FROM KENTUCKY.

“After much thought and prayer, I have decided to decommit from Kentucky and open up my recruitment,” he wrote in a note on Twitter. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime and I want to make sure that I make the best informed decision regarding my future. Please respect my decision as I will not be doing any interviews regarding my decommitment.”

It was an understandable decision, considering the long list of new offers on the table from some of the sport’s top programs.

May 4, 2017: Georgia offered, Kentucky visited

Kirby Smart trying to keep one of Georgia’s star QBs at home, while Vince Marrow and Darrin Hinshaw made the trip to get their former commitment back on board.

May 7, 2017: Williams invited to Elite 11 Finals.

He will go to Los Angeles in early June to compete against the best of the best quarterbacks in one of high school football’s premier events.

Fun Fact: 10 of the last 11 Heisman-winning quarterbacks were Elite 11 participants.

May 15: Jarren Williams RECOMMITS TO KENTUCKY.

On our very own KSR radio show, Jarren Williams announced to the world that he has recommitted to Kentucky and this time it is for good. He explained the decision to reopen his recruitment by telling us, “The reason I decommitted was because talking to the coaches and stuff and my parents, we had decided to take some more visits and do camps. Being the face of the class, out of respect for the university, I thought it would be best to go ahead and decommit. That was that and talking to Coach Hinshaw and Coach Stoops and praying about it a lot, I just really got that feeling that this was the spot for me and we just decided to shut it all down and come back home.”

When asked if he’s fully back on board for good, Williams said, “Oh yeah, this is it. I’m shutting it down. This is it now. I know where my heart belongs. I’m committed 100%. I’m shutting it all down.”

Yahtzee.


A Look at Stoops’ 2018 Class and Who’s Next

The last two weeks on the recruiting front have been two of the best during Mark Stoops’ tenure.  Since April 30, the class of 2018 has added four impact recruits: a trio of offensive linemen and quarterback Jarren Williams.

Now the 21st ranked recruiting class in the nation, third in the SEC, here’s what Stoops has in the eight-man class, along with his top remaining targets.

Elite Offensive Linemen

Before April 30, Kentucky had zero offensive linemen in the class.  Since then John Schlarman has had plenty to smile about.

The first piece to fall was Darian Kinnard.  The lowest-ranked of the offensive line recruits as the No. 32 offensive tackle, he has the desired measurables at 6’7″ 335 pounds.  From St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, he’s already gained valuable experience playing for Chuck Kyle, a coach who’s won three national titles.

Michigan’s Marquan McCall was an important addition to the offensive line and to Kentucky’s recruiting strategy.  The first Michigan commit for Mark Stoops, Steve Clinkscale convinced the best player in the state of Michigan to turn down Jim Harbaugh and leave home for Lexington.  The No. 4 offensive guard in the class and Top 100 player overall has exceptional size (6’4′ 320 pounds) for an agile interior lineman.

McCall via 247

Marquan McCall via 247

Pass Rushers with Great Teammates

Kentucky’s first commitment in the class came from a Florida defensive end who excels with his hand in the dirt.  Mark Stoops has groomed some phenomenal outside linebackers but has struggled to find five and three-technique defensive ends who are tasked to play with the big dogs in the trenches.  At 6’4″ 250 pounds, Davoan Hawkins has what it takes to play inside with the big dogs.  From Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Hollywood, Florida, he also brought a teammate to Kentucky, wide receiver Marvin Alexander.

Alex Reigelsperger tends to trend more to the outside linebacker mold.  The most vocal member of the 2018 class, he quickly emerged as a leader.  His next and most important task: convince L’Christian “Blue” Smith, his Wayne High School teammate, to join him in Lexington.

A Program-Changing Quarterback

I don’t care how many great recruiting classes Mark Stoops has, it’s hard to do anything without above-average quarterback play.  Of all the things that made last season two wins better than the previous two, consistent quarterback play deserves most of the credit.  Kentucky has found some consistency; Jarren Williams is the dynamic playmaker that can take Kentucky to places never before seen.

For the people who prefer rankings, the dual-threat quarterback is just a three-star, but that won’t last long.  An Elite 11 finalist, he’ll be a four-star, Top 150 recruit when it’s all said and done.

Williams currently has three passing targets to choose from in the class: tight end Brenden Bates and wide receivers Marvin Alexander and Shockey Jacques-Louis.  There will be a few more offensive weapons needed at running back and one special wide receiver.

Who’s Next?

L’Christian “Blue” Smith

They don’t make outside wide receivers much better than Blue Smith.  The Top Five wide receiver does everything well — catches jump balls, creates separation at the line of scrimmage, gets yards after catch.  You name it, he does it  He also is/was Wayne High School teammates with two UK guys, Alex Reigelsperger and Tobias Gilliam.  Kentucky is in a good position with Blue, but Ohio State looms.

Tyler Bentley and Xavier Peters

If Kentucky could land the dynamic duo from Lakota West High School (Cincinnati), it would bring superstar power to two positions of need, inside linebacker and defensive tackle.

The recruitment of Bentley, a Top 50 defensive tackle, was initially a two-horse race between Kentucky and Louisville.  He decided to push a summer decision back once the big dogs got involved: Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, Florida and LSU.  Still, the Cats are the 247 Crystal Ball favorites.

As Jordan Jones and Courtney Love’s time at Kentucky nears a conclusion, Stoops turns to Xavier Peters.  A consensus four-star Top 250 prospect and an Opening Finalist, Penn State is Kentucky’s toughest competition for the elite linebacker, even though he has an Alabama offer.

Tyreke Smith

A defensive end from Cleveland Heights High School, the home of Dorian Baker, he’s one of the ten best pass rushers in the country and a Top 150 player overall.  Today he trimmed his list to 12 and the Cats made the cut.  Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State and USC are the early leaders, but he told Rivals, “I am definitely going to go see Kentucky.”

A Running Back

Benny Snell and Sihiem King will be finished at UK after the 2018 season, leaving just three running backs on the roster.  This position of need will likely be filled by a late-emerging target who surfaces in the middle of the season.

Another Michigan Kid

When Steve Clinckscale first went to Michigan, McCall wasn’t the only player to see on his agenda.  Many of the elite athletes he offered were younger, following Kentucky’s “Find ’em First” approach, but there will likely be one or two more from the Great Lake State to follow in McCall’s footsteps in the class of ’18.  One name to keep an eye on: DeAndre Square, a Top 25 safety in the class.


Listen to Jarren Williams recommit on today’s show

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Four-star dual threat quarterback Jarren Williams is back on board and chose to announce the big news in a big way: on your favorite radio show, Kentucky Sports Radio. In case you missed his announcement early this morning, you can hear it at the 10:53 mark of the first hour:

While you’re at it, check out hour two, which includes more UK news and plenty of randomness, including a girl scout cookie theft and an Avril Lavigne conspiracy:

By the way, Avril Lavigne is totally alive.


Stoops on the pros and cons of the early signing period

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Last week, the NCAA approved an early signing period for football, which will run from December 20-22, allowing players who want to go ahead and shut down their recruitments the chance to do so. The early signing period was a popular topic on today’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, and when asked, Mark Stoops said the staff will definitely use it to lock in players who are ready to sign in December.

“I think yes, definitely. If we feel very comfortable with the player and we have a good feel for them personally, for their character and their families and we can get it knocked out, I definitely think we would use it to try and get them locked up.”

While the early signing period is generally seen as a win for programs like Kentucky, Stoops was careful to point out that it could have drawbacks, such as the effect it will have on the recruiting calendar.

I think, like I said, there’s good and bad. If you look through the years, it certainly could have benefitted us in certain ways. I think it’s good as far as having the early signing period, having that ability. As far as changing the calendar and all those things, when you package it together I don’t think I was total in favor of that, but you have to make due with the rules that were given to you.”

“So, a player that we have committed that I know very well that we’ve had a relationship with for a year, year and a half or so, if you want to clean that up and get him signed in December, I see no harm in that. With the change and bringing in the visits so early and all that, that’s something that’s going to take some thought and we’ll work our way through that.”

In Stoops and Marrow we trust.


The UK Coaches react to Jarren Williams’ recommitment

The UK Coaches react to Jarren Williams’ recommitment

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As you might expect, it was a happy day for the UK coaching staff, which just reeled Jarren Williams back in to the 2018 class. The staff’s excitement spilled onto social media, starting with this tweet from quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw, who has been Williams’ primary recruiter along with Vince Marrow:

Marrow’s tweet may seem a little subdued, but you know he’s doing this in his office right now:

marrow-dance1

Even the official UK Twitter account got swaggy:

Here’s Williams’ tweet after announcing the news on KSR:

Four-star defensive end Alex Reigelsperger, the lead recruiter in the 2018 class, was ecstatic:

Not a bad way to start a Monday.