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LIVE: Lonnie Johnson’s announcement


Four Thoughts on Josh Paschal’s Commitment to Kentucky

 1. A Perfect Fit

Playing a 6-technique (heads-up on a tight end) is one of the most difficult tasks you can ask from a defender.  Paschal has the size to take on the contact and the quick-twitch muscles to read and react.  He’s versatile enough to stand-up as the OLB, or put his hand in the dirt as the 3/4 DE. His explosiveness off the line is remarkable.  The first half of his highlight reel is filled with plays featuring one subtle move before he explodes into the backfield for the tackle.  Some think you need a massive arsenal of weapons to rush the passer, but all you need is a good rip and a good swim.  He already has both.

2. He Doesn’t Have to Play Right Away

Even though recruiting the Josh Allen/Denzil Ware position was a priority in the 2017 class, Kentucky has Josh Allen and Denzil Ware in 2017.  Much like when Ware redshirted in his freshman season behind Bud and Za’Darius, Kentucky’s premier players behind the line of scrimmage will be another year older, with never before seen depth behind them.

Junior college transfer Jordan Bonner has a year of experience under his belt and two more years of eligibility.  The Cats also redshirted three outside linebackers in the class of 2016: Jamar “Boogie” Watson, Roland Walder and Jaylin Bannerman.  Paschal is good enough to play right away, but he doesn’t have to.

3. I Never Thought It Would Happen

Of all the top recruits in the 2017 class, Paschal was the guy I wanted at Kentucky more than any of them.

First, elite defensive ends are my favorite.  There’s nothing better than a delicious sack lunch.  Second, his brother is one of the nicest guys I met at UK.  In-between coaching changes he never got his fair shot, but he never complained.  Josh would have the luxuries Tre never had at UK and a skill set to take him to the next level.  When I saw Kentucky was left off Josh’s top seven, I understood and moved on, but made sure to tease Tre every time I saw him.  I never expected this turn of events, but that’s the kind of year it’s been for Kentucky football.

4. Sorry, Not Sorry Bob

Bob has always been the Stoops brother with the upper hand, but not this time Bob-O.  Mark convinced Paschal to come to Kentucky over Oklahoma, giving Mark bragging rights this Christmas.

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@JPaschal5

Kentucky Lands 4-Star Defensive End

@JPaschal5

@JPaschal5

Joshua Paschal has committed to Kentucky.  Of all the recruiting news from this year, this is without a doubt the best news.

A 4-star defensive end from Maryland’s national powerhouse Good Counsel High School, Paschal is the younger brother of former Wildcat and current GA TreVaughn Paschal.  Despite the connection to Kentucky, Paschal didn’t even include Kentucky in his top seven.  Paschal chose Kentucky over Notre Dame and Oklahoma.  Just when you thought Vince Marrow had done it all, he’s done something even more impressive.

Paschal is considered the nation’s No. 11 strong side defensive end, a consensus Top 300 player and a finalist for The Opening, Nike’s premier recruiting event.  Watch his highlights and geek accordingly.

The addition of Paschal, the 18th commitment and third 4-star in the Class of 2017, moves UK up to No. 27 in 247’s 2017 class team rankings and No. 33 in Rivals’ rankings.


Welcome to the Dead Period

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Dead Period.  What sounds like an AMC promo for The Walking Dead is actually a term in the college football recruiting world.

Starting Sunday night at midnight through January 11 is a Dead Period in college football.  Football coaches and recruits are forbidden from any in-person contact.  The only permissible contact is through written or electronic communication.

These rules are strict.  If Mark Stoops runs into Walker Wood while getting this morning Starbucks, he cannot have a conversation with him at all.  He could probably get away with a “Hi” and a wave, but the NCAA doesn’t mess around.  Joker Phillips lost his job at Florida when he ran into a recruit at a restaurant and posed for a picture during a dead period.

There is an exception during this period.  Sunday was the start of a quiet period for all mid-year junior college enrollees.  In quiet periods, coaches cannot visit players off campus, but they can see players on campus.  It makes sense, because if a junior college player plans on enrolling in the spring semester, they’ll probably have to be on campus by January 11.

Mid-year junior college transfer will begin signing letters of intent starting tomorrow, December 14.  One who could be signing with Kentucky on Wednesday, defensive back Lonnie Johnson, will choose between the Cats, Georgia and West Virginia tonight at 5:00.  Here isn’t the only JUCO transfer that could pull the trigger and commit to Kentucky this week.  Former Michigan safety Brian Cole will decide between Kentucky and Ole Miss, and defensive tackle Craig Evans will choose between UK and Oregon State.

Outside of junior college kids, there’s buzzing the recruiting world surrounding a pair of 4-star recruits — defensive end Josh Paschal and athlete Lynn Bowden.  Bowden released his top ten schools last night and could announce a commitment to Kentucky as early as this week.  The buzz surrounding Bowden isn’t as intense as Paschal.  His recruitment has been kept quiet, but the tides have started to turn UK’s way after his Good Counsel teammate Naasir Watkins committed last week.

This is also the time of the year where we learn who will enroll early.  Yesterday Long County, Georgia outside linebacker Jamin Davis became the first confirmed early enrollee when he held a signing ceremony at his high school.

“Yesterday was a dream come true for me.Thank you to everyone who has brought me this far! #BBN” – @jamindavis25

He’s expected to be joined by Danny Clark.  Walker Wood planned on enrolling early but his injury in the state title game may have changed things.  We should know the complete class of mid-year enrollees over the next ten days.


Tuesday’s Top 10, Brought to you by a Salty Russell Westbrook

When KSR hits the road, you never know what’s going to happen.  It was not surprising when Jerry Lawler’s Diner turned out to be trash, or that a ghost drank a glass of wine at the haunted hotel in Oklahoma City.  I think we all were surprised to see Russell Westbrook snap back at KSR’s Editor-in-Chief last night on Twitter.

After Drew poked a little fun at Westbrook’s Instagram modeling, Westbrook got salty.  As usual, Drew had the last laugh.

drew-westbrook

All of this happened on a Monday.  They still have three more days before they reach Vegas.  I can’t even begin to guess the kind of shenanigans they’ll get into, so you better stay tuned.

1. Kentucky Added a Football Commit

The first UK news of the week broke early Monday morning when Florida offensive guard Sebastien Dolcine flipped his commitment from UCF to UK.  He’s the second UCF commit to flip to Kentucky, following defensive end Chris Whittaker.  Dolcine is commit No. 17 in the class of 2017 and the third offensive lineman, considered the No. 78 offensive guard in America.

2. More Commits Coming?

Junior college defensive back Lonnie Johnson will choose between Kentucky, Georgia and West Virginia this evening at 5:00 p.m.  The Gary, In. native took his official visit to Georgia last weekend and UK the previous week.  Johnson is considered one of the top two safeties in junior college football.  He’s one of a few JUCO transfers that could pick UK this week; more on that a little later today.

3. No Movement in the Polls

After defeating Valpo and Hofstra, Kentucky stayed at No. 6 in the AP Poll and No. 7 in the Coaches’ Poll.  When the Cats take on the Tar Heels this Saturday in Vegas it will be a matchup between No. 6 and No. 7, regardless of which poll you prefer.

4. Jeopardy Fail

This $1,000 clue in the category “basketball” is about as easy it gets.

5. Calipari Doesn’t Wrap Christmas Presents

I understand where Cal is coming from.  Wrapping Christmas presents is much harder than it looks.  Even though I’m terrible, I do it anyway.  When they see the excessive amounts of paper crumpled up in the corner, they know the gift came from me.  Cal needs to suck it up and get to wrapping in between book signings.

Calipari also admitted he doesn’t chop onions.  The coach-speak translation: Cal doesn’t cry.

6. In Case you Haven’t Heard Cal Enough, There’s a Podcast

If you couldn’t find the time to hear Cal in one of his 57 weekly media opportunities, he’s giving the BBN another chance to get to know him in a new weekly 30-minute podcast.  Featuring guests from Papa John to Drake, the first episode was taped yesterday in New York City and should be released later this week.

7. Jeff Fisher (Somehow) Got Fired

Of all the surprising news from 2016, nothing caught me off guard quite like the news that Jeff Fisher got the ax in L.A.  The King of keeping a job just recently got a two-year contract extension after allowing just shy of 50 points in a game.  The strange “contract extension, then termination” move prompted one local news station to throw some serious shade in the chyron.

@tmckernan

@tmckernan

8. New Coach at WKU?

Pete Thamel is the first to report that Mike Sanford will be the Hilltoppers’ next head coach.  Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, Sanford also spent time coaching at his alma mater Boise State, Stanford, and a season at WKU under Willie Taggart.  It’s not yet official, but once it is confirmed there will only be one head coaching vacancy remaining: Temple.

9. Boogie and Randle Fight

You must use the term “fight” loosely.  The two got tangled up near the top of the key and tumbled to the ground.  The no-call infuriated Lakers’ coach Luke Walton.  Watch him get tossed out of the game by the officials.

Don’t worry BBN, the two former Cats made up at the half.

10. Finals Must Really Suck

Sorry students, but I’m not sorry.  I’ve gone one year without school and it feels oh so good.  You should try it.  You should also listen to KSR, from somewhere in West Texas, starting in one hour.


Reminder: Lonnie Johnson announces tomorrow

Reminder: Lonnie Johnson announces tomorrow

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@Lonnie30johnson

In case you missed it this morning, Kentucky’s recruiting momentum kept rolling with a commitment from 3-star OG Sebastien Dolcine, the 17th member of Mark Stoops’ 2017 class. That class could get bigger tomorrow when the nation’s top junior college safety Lonnie Johnson announces his decision at 5 p.m. Johnson attends Garden City Community College in Gary, Indiana, and could bring UK some immediate help in the secondary. He’s down to Kentucky, West Virginia, and Georgia, and visited the Bulldogs this past weekend.

Speaking of JuCos, three-star safety Brian Cole will also announce this week, potentially tomorrow. The former Michigan Wolverine played for East Mississippi Community College this season and visited UK this past weekend. Hopefully he’ll choose the Cats so we can have another reason to watch season two of “Last Chance U.”

Other recruits to keep an eye on: 4-star DE Joshua Paschal (younger brother of TraVaughn Paschal), four-star athlete Lynn Bowden, and four-star offensive tackle Thayer Munford. All three visited UK during the mega recruiting weekend on December 3.


BREAKING: 3-star offensive lineman flips commitment to Kentucky

How about a little breaking news to start the day? As first reported by 247 Sports, 3-star offensive guard Sebastien Dolcine just flipped his commitment from Central Florida to Kentucky. The 6’4″ 285 lbs. Hollywood, Florida native took his official visit to Kentucky this weekend, and liked it so much he decided to play his college ball in Lexington. Dolcine is considered the 78th best guard in the 2017 class, and was recruited primarily by Eddie Gran, who is recruiting the heck out of South Florida these days.

Dolcine is also the second commitment UK’s flipped from UCF in the last week. Last Sunday, 3-star DE Chris Whittaker, also from Hollywood, Florida, flipped his commitment to Kentucky. Kentucky now has 17 commitments in the 2017 class.

Welcome to the family, Sebastien, and keep it up, Eddie!


Jedrick Wills is on Campus

jed-wills-drummond

Lexington Lafayette offensive tackle Jedrick Wills is hanging out with Walker on Wood on UK’s campus today.  The 5-star Alabama commit was seen hanging out at the UK football training facility with the other visitors in town.

Could Kentucky change Wills’ mind?  Probably not, but if he’s enjoying his visit as much as Phil Hoskins, a 3-star JUCO defensive tackle commit, anything is possible.

@Phil_Hoskins

@Phil_Hoskins


Where Kentucky Stands in Football Recruiting

UK's highest-ranked commit, WR Javonte Richardson (@Jigg_Starter) with LT last night.

UK’s highest-ranked commit, WR Javonte Richardson (@Jigg_Starter) with LT last night.

Mark Stoops said earlier today, “recruiting is going exceptionally well.”  Since he can’t get into specifics, I thought it’d be appropriate to take a deep dive into the specifics.

After hosting about 15 players on campus last weekend for official visits, Stoops picked up a pair of commitments — Maryland offensive tackle Naasir Watkins and Florida defensive end Christopher Whittaker.  The two additions give Stoops 16 commits in the 2017 class.  It’s ranked no. 33 overall, no. 11 in the SEC.  The class in its entirety:

Kentucky Football Class of 2017

NamePositionHometownHeightWeight 247 Composite
Javonte RichardsonWRMaple Heights, Oh.6-42104-star
Tyrell Ajian ATH/DBMansfield, Oh.6-11854-star
Lynn BowdenATHYoungstown, Oh.6-11854-star
Joshua PaschalSDEOlney, Md.6-42554-star
Yusuf CorkerCBStockbridge, GA 6-01854-star
Danny ClarkQBStow, Oh.6-42253-star
Alex KingDEMason, Oh.6-42353-star
Phil HoskinsDT (JUCO)Toledo, Oh. 6-52753-star
Bryant KobackRBHolland, Oh.5-111913-star
Joshua AliWRHollywood, Fl.6-01803-star
Clevan ThomasWRHollywood, Fl.5-111903-star
Michael NesbittCBFt. Lauderdale, Fl.6-01853-star
Jamin DavisOLBLincolnton, Ga.6-32053-star
Walker WoodQBLexington, Ky.6-11873-star
Quinton BohannaDTCordova, Tn.6-32753-star
Nassir WatkinsOTOlney, Md.6-63003-star
Christopher Whittaker DEHollywood, Fl.6-42463-star
Cedrick DortCBPalm Bech Gardens, Fl.6-11653-star
Austin DotsonOTBelfry, Ky.6-63053-star
Sebastien DolcineOLMiramar, Fl. 6-42853-star
Lonnie JohnsonSGary, In.6-31903-star
Jordan Wright DEFt. Lauderdale, Fl.6-52253-star
Abule Abadi-FitzgeraldDELakeland, Fl.6-72503-star
Isaiah EppsWRJenks, Ok.6-31853-star

By the Numbers

Players lost next season by position:

  • OL: 4
  • RB: 3 (2 walk-on fullbacks)
  • WR: 2
  • DL: 2
  • DB: 3

Commits by position:

  • OL: 2
  • QB: 2
  • RB: 1
  • WR: 3
  • DL: 4
  • LB: 1
  • DB: 3

Commits by state:

  • Ohio: 6
  • Florida: 5
  • Kentucky: 2
  • Georgia: 1
  • Tennessee: 1
  • Maryland: 1

Who’s Next?

Far from finished, Stoops expects to land “more than 20” in the class, leaving room for 6-8 more commitments.  Here are a few of the guys they’re pursuing to sign on the first Wednesday of February.

Lonnie Johnson — The JUCO defensive back officially visited last weekend.  He’ll take an official visit this weekend to Georgia before announcing his decision on Tuesday.

Lynn Bowden —  The Youngstown native would be the highest ranked recruit in the class, maybe the highest ranked recruit ever to commit to Kentucky.  The Cats are in a great position for the 4-star athlete.

Joshua Paschal — Teammates with Watkins at Good Counsel High School, the four-star defensive end is “low key” about where he stands in the recruiting process, but what once seemed improbable continues to look better and better for Kentucky.

Bruce Judson — Lamar Thomas and Darin Hinshaw visited the 3-star athlete early in the recruiting week.  The South Florida commit has an official visit scheduled for January 11.

Isaiah Epps — This receiver from Oklahoma just received an offer from UK earlier this week.  Standing tall at 6’3, the Cats are his first major offer.  He could be on commit watch when he visits this weekend.

Jordan Wright — The three-star defensive end has already taken his official visit to Kentucky.  Before he announces his college decision on December 21, he could convince a teammate to come to Kentucky too.  3-star defensive end Jon Ford is a Miami commit visiting Kentucky this weekend.

Brian Cole — The former Michigan safety once appeared to be a lock for Kentucky. He opted to go the JUCO route, spending this year at Last Chance U East Mississippi C.C.  Kentucky is still an option for Cole.  He will visit Lexington this weekend.

UPDATE

I got so caught up looking for new names I forgot two of the biggest names that have been around for months: Ohio wide receiver Danny Davis and Ohio offensive tackle Thayer Mumford.  The Cats have put themselves in a great position.  All they can do is continue to do what they’ve been doing, and wait.


Stoops: “Recruiting is going exceptionally well”

@UKFootball

@UKFootball

This morning, Mark Stoops and Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Johnson traveled to Jacksonville to formally accept their TaxSlayer Bowl invitations. They had a short press conference that, honestly, wasn’t too exciting, but there were a few nuggets worth sharing.

Of course the moderator asked about basketball

Poor Mark Stoops, he went all the way to Jacksonville and the moderator opened with a story about basketball, recalling a trip to Lexington in the 80’s on the night of Midnight Madness and how excited fans were to see the team. As he’s learned to do over the years, Stoops took it in stride.

“We have a phenomenal fan base, they go by the BBN. They’re certainly very energetic, very passionate. That’s what I said since I’ve been there. The history in basketball, they deserve that recognition, they’ve been good for a long, long time; it only helps us. We bring our recruits to the basketball games, it’s phenomenal experience.”

Stoops then redirected the conversation back to football, mentioning the renovations to Commonwealth Stadium and the new practice facility.

Recruiting is going “exceptionally well”

This week, Kentucky’s picked up two big football commits: 3-star DE Chris Whittaker and 3-star OT Nassir Watkins last night. Stoops has several other irons in the fire for the 2017 class, and when asked, said recruiting wasn’t just going well, it’s going “exceptionally well.”

“Recruiting is going exceptionally well for us. We’re off to another good start this year, hopefully we can close very well,” Stoops said, mentioning the importance of the state of Florida in recruiting. “It’s going very well and we’re excited about trying to close here.”

Stoops asked Johnson about bowl practice schedules

Of course, this is Stoops’ first bowl game as a head coach, and he admitted he asked Georgia Tech’s coach for some pointers before the presser began.

“I was just picking Coach [Johnson]’s brain. It’s my first bowl game as a head coach, so Coach and I were talking about some of our schedules,” Stoops said.

Hopefully Johnson didn’t play any mind tricks with Stoops, like advising him to let his team relax until Christmas.

Watch the entire presser below:


Mark Stoops lands commitment from Naasir Watkins

247Sports.com

247Sports.com

We interrupt your post-basketball win coverage to tell you about Kentucky’s big Wednesday night football commitment.

Naasir Watkins, the three-star offensive tackle out of Maryland, pledge his commitment to the University of Kentucky in a tweet to his Twitter followers:

You may remember Watkins’ name from the profile ran on him last night. Check that out here for a little insight into what led to the decision to become a Cat.

Yahtzee!

(Now let’s get his high school teammate, Josh Paschal.)


Future Cat Walker Wood out 3-4 months with knee injury

Photo via USA Today High School Sports

Photo via USA Today High School Sports

Future Cat Walker Wood suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter of Lafayette’s state championship loss to Trinity on Saturday, but thankfully, it appears the injury is not as serious as once feared. According to the Herald-Leader’s Josh Moore, Wood dislocated his knee and chipped some of the bone off his knee cap in addition to suffering some cartilage damage, but didn’t tear anything, which is what everyone fears when they hear the words “knee injury.” With surgery and rehab, Wood said he expects to be back to 100% in three to four months.

Wood is still one of the frontrunners for the Kentucky Mr. Football award, with 31 rushing touchdowns and 30 passing touchdowns this season. Wood will enroll at Kentucky this spring, where he could also be used as an “athlete” or wide receiver, and today, he penned an emotional farewell letter to his family at Lafayette High School:

No matter how UK uses him, it sounds like the Cats are getting a quality player on and off the field.

Check out some of Walker’s highlights from this season below, starting with this incredible touchdown vs. Boyle County, which made SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays:

 


Stoops on recruiting: “It was a really good weekend”

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

This weekend was a huge one for Kentucky football for many reasons. First, the Cats accepted an invitation to the TaxSlayer Bowl, Kentucky’s most prestigious bowl since the Outback Bowl in 1998; and second, several major recruits were in town. Sixteen, in fact. Of course, Mark Stoops couldn’t talk specifics, but after convincing one of those visitors, 3-star DE Chris Whittaker, to flip his commitment to Kentucky last night, he hinted in his press conference that the weekend went very, very well.

“We had about 16 kids in, really just wrapped up with one of them just now,” Stoops said in a press conference earlier today. “It was a really good weekend. A lot of good players, a great reception. Some guys are committed, some aren’t, we’re working through it. But it’s been a good week.”

Stoops was on the recruiting trail all last week, checking in on current commits and trying to convince players pledged to other schools to flip their commitment to come play for Kentucky. He’s been a busy, busy man.

“Was gone all week, left last Sunday early and got back Friday, we had 16 kids in this weekend, that went very well. Actually had to leave last night, was out of town for the night, came back this morning. Gonna have this press conference, met with another recruit this morning. Gonna have a team meeting at 2 p.m., and then leave right after that.” 

Some of the players in town this weekend included 4-star wide receiver Danny Davis, 4-star athlete Lynn Bowden, 3-star offensive tackle Naasir Watkins, and 4-star defensive end Joshua Paschal (younger brother of former Cat TraVaughn Paschal), who posed with Calipari and Vince Marrow in Cal’s office on Friday:

As I mentioned earlier, KSR is hearing UK will get at least one or two more football commitments this week, including at least one more flip. Stay tuned…


Danny Clark Leads Team to State Title

Danny Clark Leads Team to State Title

@JWinslow7

@JWinslow7

While many of his future teammates were schmoozed at Rupp Arena, Danny Clark was busy winning a State Championship.

The athletic lefty led his team to their second consecutive Ohio Division III State Championship by blanking Trotwood-Madison 30-0.  Clark threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns, including this 10-yarder to his younger brother, Caden.

Clark also got it done on the ground.  He finished this 34-yard touchdown by running over this poor little safety.

Kentucky’s other quarterback in the 2017 class, Walker Wood, is also fighting for a State Championship tonight at approximately 10:00 EST.  If Wood can lead the underdog Lafayette Generals over Trinity it will be an unbelievable upset.

Wood and Clark plan on on enrolling early in January.