Football Recruiting News
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 16th, 2018 @ 2:59pm
Earlier today, defensive back Tobias Gilliam announced he is transferring from the Kentucky football program and now, tight end Jaylin Bannerman has done the same.
Bannerman, a rising sophomore, redshirted his freshman season and only practiced with the team last year after moving from linebacker to tight end. He shared the news via Twitter minutes ago:
In due time ?? pic.twitter.com/Tn2mSaOMcx
— Jaylin "1K" Bannerman (@therealjaylin11) April 16, 2018
Bannerman came to Kentucky from Pickerington, Ohio as a three-star prospect with offers from Pittsburgh, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, and Toledo. Best of luck to him as he takes the next step in his career.
Football recruits have been in and out of Kentucky’s Nutter Football Training Facility throughout spring practice. Tonight the coaching staff’s efforts will culminate by hosting dozens of recruits for the Blue/White Game. There are many more in town, but here are just a few of the big names on campus:
Nik Scalzo is one of a handful of quarterbacks in the 2019 class that holds an offer from Kentucky. The dual-threat QB from Ft. Lauderdale received that scholarship offer when he visited campus in February for Junior Day. Scalzo could make some more news after this weekend’s visit to Lexington.
Connor Bazelak is a quarterback that just recently picked up a UK offer. A 2019 pro-style passer from Archbishop Alter in Dayton, Indiana, Pitt, North Carolina and West Virginia are also in the mix.
Isaiah Gibson visited Lexington just two weeks ago, but is expected to return for tonight’s Blue/White Game. The 6’4″ 265-pound defensive lineman is teammates with UK commit Moses Douglass, who is also expected to make the trip down I-75 South.
Moses Douglass is not the only 2019 commit expected to be on campus tonight. Georgia outside linebacker K.D. McDaniel will also be in the stands for the Blue/White Game.
James BlackStrain has only completed his freshman year of high school football, but the 6-foot Florida wide receiver already has offers from Tennessee, North Carolina, Middle Tennessee State and Kentucky.
One Florida tight end has the best name of the bunch: Nikolas Ognenovic. Hailing from Ft. Lauderdale, the 6’6″ 235-pounder already has ten offers, including one from Kentucky.
Dontay Hunter attends the same Westerville Central High School that produced Benny Snell. If this pass rusher is cut from the same cloth as Benny, Kentucky needs to get Hunter to commit ASAP.
Three-star Florida offensive guard Jamari Williams appears to be enjoying his visit.
— ?SweetFeet????? (@jamariwilliams3) April 13, 2018
By Nick Roush on ©April 11th, 2018 @ 5:30pm
Mark Stoops’ 2018 recruiting class did not sign one player from the state of Kentucky, something that had not happened in 78 years. Kentucky’s head coach said on Signing Day that he does not expect that phenomenon to repeat itself in 2019.
“We’re recruiting hard on the 19s right now, out there beating the pavement, making sure we’re evaluating the right guys,” he said.
Well, one of those 2019 guys committed to Virginia Tech yesterday. UK had recruited Bryan Hudson since he was a freshman, but he decided to take his talents elsewhere.
In a normal year, it’s devastating to see a Top 200 player leave the state, but Hudson was just the fourth-ranked player in Kentucky. The 2019 class is absolutely loaded with some of the nation’s top talent.
- DE Stephen Herron, No. 72 in the Nation
- ATH Milton Wright, No. 137
- DT Jacob Lacey, No. 154
- OT Bryan Hudson, No. 212
- OT Tanner Bowles, No. 282
Five Kentuckians are ranked in the Top 300. Great news for UK, right? Well, not exactly. Herron is committed to Michigan, Lacey to Notre Dame, and Hudson to Va. Tech. It’s unlikely UK will land Wright and they will have to fend off Alabama to bring Bowles to Lexington.
Early in his tenure Stoops said he wanted to build a wall around the state, but in arguably the Commonwealth’s best class, that wall is too small.
Kentucky can still salvage the big losses with other talented prospects, most notably Wandale Robinson. The Western Hills athlete is a frequent visitor to campus and UK is at the top of his leaderboard. Three prospects from Louisville — JJ Weaver, Shawnkel Knight-Goff and Demontae Crumes — are in play for the Cats, but they will have to pry them away from UofL.
The last time the state produced this much talent, Kentucky was in the driver’s seat before landing the state’s top three recruits, All-Americans Kash Daniel, Landon Young and Drake Jackson. All three will be starters on the season-opening depth chart.
This time around, Kentucky is in an uphill battle for the state’s top talent, but why?
One could argue the 2019 class hit the camp circuit earlier. By venturing to camps out of state, top programs are able to spot elite talent just as quickly as Kentucky. However, I don’t think that’s entirely the case.
In the 2018 class, Purdue signed more players from the state of Kentucky than any other school. This morning on Kentucky Roll Call, head coach Jeff Brohm explained how (and took a shot at Stoops and Bobby Petrino).
“I don’t know if (we’re stealing them), or teams there just don’t think as highly of them. But we feel like we have a good heartbeat of where the talent is. We’ve got good relationships with the coaches and we want to make sure we recruit all the top talent in the state of Kentucky.”
One might see it as a small slight in a quote on a morning radio show, but Brohm hits an underlying notion that might be UK’s problem: how connected is UK to the state?
For Brohm, he’s a household name. A former Mr. Football at Trinity, it’s not difficult to find a connection to Rondale Moore, Trinity’s All-American receiver that will play in West Lafayette this fall. Before taking the Purdue job, he developed connections at other schools while recruiting for Western Kentucky.
Stoops and Marrow used comparable connections to create a pipeline in the state of Ohio. It’s given the Cats a large number of players, and helped them steal an elite recruit or two (see Lynn Bowden). The tactic has been extremely successful, but does Stoops’ staff still have similar connections within the state?
In Stoops’ first two years, Neal Brown took care of that problem. In fact, he recruited Purdue’s quarterback, Caldwell County’s Elijah Singular, before departing for Troy. That responsibility was passed to John Schlarman. A former UK offensive lineman and current O-line coach, Schlarman has an excellent track record recruiting elite Kentucky offensive linemen. As for the rest of the state’s athletes…the jury is still out.
It would be unfair to criticize UK’s recruiting efforts within the state up until this point. You can’t get them all. However, the 2019 Kentucky class presents a very rare recruiting opportunity, one the Cats cannot afford to miss. If they do not act quickly, it could be gone.
By Nick Roush on ©April 10th, 2018 @ 12:53pm
One of the top football prospects in the Commonwealth will leave the state of Kentucky to play college football. Bryan Hudson announced on Twitter that he has committed to Virginia Tech.
Kentucky began recruiting the four-star offensive tackle from Scott County as a freshman. Seen as Landon Young 2.0, the two competed against each other in KHSAA wrestling and shot put. Hudson ultimately decided to turn down the Cats, Alabama, Ohio State and many others to play college football and track in Blacksburg.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me with this process. I'm truly humbled by the faith shown in me by the 24 schools that have offered. I'm thankful to my parents, my coaches, teammates, family & friends. I've found a HOME where I will further my football and track career… pic.twitter.com/4bt5yGPAsU
— Bryan Hudson (@HudsonBryan) April 10, 2018
Considered a Top 200 player in the nation, he’s still just the No. 4 player overall in the state of Kentucky’s 2019 class.
By Nick Roush on ©March 31st, 2018 @ 10:30pm
One of the best defensive backs in America is following in his father’s footsteps.
Four-star safety Moses Douglass announced he has committed to Kentucky over Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Louisville, Wisconsin and many others. Douglass’ father Maurice was a safety at UK from 1984-86 prior to an 11-year NFL career. The elder Douglass now coaches his son at Springfield High School in Ohio.
Moses made the announcement on Twitter following a visit to Lexington for Spring Practice.
A consensus four-star prospect, Douglass is a Top 25 safety in the 2019 class and is considered the No. 312 player overall by the 247 Composite Rankings. He is the third commitment in Stoops’ 2019 recruiting class, joining four-star Florida safety Keontra Smith and three-star linebacker KD McDaniel.
In the first Kentucky football recruiting showcase of the 2019 recruiting season, Mark Stoops opened his doors to more than 120 prospects from more than a dozen states.
Unlike previous Junior Days, the invitation-only event was not dominated by recruits from Ohio. Of course there were a few big names from the Buckeye state, but there were just as many hailing from Michigan, Missouri and Louisiana.
The biggest name from Steve Clinkscale’s Michigan territory was Michael Fletcher. The No. 10 player in the state is one of the 25 best defensive ends in the country. After the visit he Tweeted: “Had a great time at Kentucky! Will definitely be back.”
From the uncharted lands of Missouri, 6’3″ wide receiver C.J. Boone spent his day at UK enjoying time with Paul Tyson, the grandson of Bear Bryant who is one of the ten best pocket-passers in the nation. Tyson wasn’t the only quarterback on campus.
— C J A Y B O O N E?. (@Cjay5k) February 24, 2018
You can see more here.
A New QB Scholarship Offer
If there’s one position you need to lock up early, it’s quarterback. Darin Hinshaw and Eddie Gran did their part by inviting four quarterbacks to campus.
Kentucky has been Tyson’s radar probably longer than any other school. The same could be said for Hayden Wolff. A big man (6’5″) with a big arm, the Cats are the early favorites for Wolff. Those two arrived in Lexington with UK scholarship offers. Dual-threat quarterback Nik Scalzo left Lexington with an offer from Eddie Gran.
“After having a great visit with Coach Stoops, Gran, and Hinshaw, I am honored to say that I have received an offer from THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY,” Scalzo Tweeted.
He’s only 6-feet tall, but he’s caught the eyes of many schools in the camp circuits. Illinois and a slew of Ivy League schools have also extended offers to the seventeenth-ranked dual-threat passer in 2019.
The other quarterback on campus is also considered a dual-threat. Travis Mumphrey from Marrero, Louisiana brought a couple of teammates with him to Lexington, but did not leave with an offer.
Cats Offer Louisville Commit
Demontae Crumes committed to Louisville last week. Yesterday Kentucky coaches extended him a scholarship offer in Lexington.
A Louisville native from Butler High School, I can confirm that Crumes can catch passes. In fact, the time I watched Crumes from the stands, his efforts in the end zone almost single-handedly carried Butler to a victory. The 6’1″ wide out plays bigger than his size and was good enough to lead Butler to one of their best seasons in a decade.
Kentucky has a long time to convince Crumes to leave his hometown. It doesn’t hurt that he grew up cheering for Kentucky.
An Important Legacy Recruit
Arguably the biggest name on Kentucky’s campus this weekend was a familiar one. Mo Douglass was a safety at UK from 1984-1986. Yesterday he brought his daughter and son to Lexington.
Moses Douglass is a four-star safety that is considered one of the best 300 players in America. He holds offers from more than 20 schools, including most of the Big 10 conference. Coached by his father, the elder Douglass has sent some of his former players, like defensive tackle Kordell Looney, to Kentucky. Can Stoops and Marrow convince him to send his son to school down I-75 South?
Not All Juniors
Even though it’s called Junior Day, UK’s coaching staff still invites underclassmen.
The biggest of the bunch was Paris Johnson Jr. The 6’7″ 275-pound offensive tackle from Cincinnati St. X is the No. 113 player in his class according to 247. Before he completed his visit, Johnson Jr. Tweeted, “Amazing visit! Blessed to have the opportunity to spend time with Coach Marrow, Coach Schlarman, Coach Gran and Coach Stoops!”
Johnson Jr. received a scholarship prior to his visit. Kentucky waited until John Young got to campus to extend a scholarship offer. A 6’8″ 280-pound offensive lineman from Christian Academy of Louisville, Rex Chapman and Steve Romines were ecstatic when they heard the news.
Kentucky didn’t exclusively invite big underclassmen. Four-star North Carolina wide receiver Mike Wyman picked up an offer before he left Lexington.
Tweet of the Weekend
The football recruiting Twitter world was filled with tons of pictures from the uniformed photoshoots. Many were bypassed, but this caption from four-star Michigan wide receiver Rashawn Williams was an exception.
— Rashawn Williams (@troule19) February 25, 2018
While the basketball world was buzzing about the latest in the FBI scandal, Mark Stoops was preparing for one of his biggest recruiting weekends of the year.
This weekend is Kentucky football’s annual Junior Day. UK will open its doors to hundreds of the most talented prospects in the 2019 football recruiting class. For many, it’s Stoops and Vince Marrow’s first chance to WOW the next class. The recruits will come in droves from top high schools across the country. Even if it’s a longshot, getting the best of the best on campus this weekend is the first big step in the recruiting process.
The visiting recruits will receive an academic presentation, a tour of the weight room and athletic facilities, a photoshoot with UK equipment and three tickets to the basketball game vs. Missouri at Rupp Arena.
The following list is most certainly incomplete, but it paints a picture where Kentucky is recruiting and what type of player they’re looking for, starting with quarterbacks.
Kentucky can only rely on the JUCO route for so long at quarterback. They must return to the high school ranks and land at least one in the upcoming class.
Hayden Wolff — Darin Hinshaw spotted Wolff early in the recruiting process. The Cats are the early favorite for the Englewood, Florida pocket-passer.
Paul Tyson — This will not be the first time Bear Bryant’s Grandson has visited Kentucky. The No. 7 pocket-passer and No. 223 player overall in the 2019 class, UK’s early offer put the Cats in a good position for the four-star prospect. The biggest thing in UK’s way — Tyson now has an Alabama offer.
Nik Scalzo — A 6-foot tall running quarterback from Ft. Lauderdale, his size has kept most big schools away. He has an offer from Illinois as Kentucky takes a closer look at the dual-threat quarterback.
Travis Mumphrey — The other dual-threat quarterback on campus this weekend hails from Louisiana. Considered a three-star prospect and the No. 23 dual-threat in the country, he picked up an offer from the Vols this week and will head to Knoxville after his UK visit.
Michael Smith has been extremely busy during his first few weeks on Kentucky’s staff. After extending a dozen or so offers, the new wide receivers coach convinced a few from The Pelican State to attend Junior Day.
Donald Clay — A three-star defensive back from New Orleans, Clay has almost 20 offers, most notably Arkansas, Arizona State and Kentucky.
Kash Foley — The unranked wide receiver picked up a UK offer last week.
Ahmad Bradley — A 6’2 325-pound offensive guard, he protects quarterback Travis Mumphrey at John Ehret High School in Marrero.
Chad Alexander — The shifty New Orleans running back is only 5’5, but is big enough to catch Smith’s eye.
Yes, Kentucky is recruiting in Missouri now. Where this came from, I don’t know, but it appears Kentucky will be setting up shop in St. Louis and the surrounding areas for the foreseeable future.
Shammond Cooper — A four-star inside linebacker that is considered one of the Top 250 players in the 2019 class will bring a large contingency from St. Louis’ Trinity Catholic High School with him to UK. Oklahoma is the early leader for Cooper, but Clemson and Notre Dame are also in the mix.
C.J. Boone — The 6’3 wide receiver from St. Louis also has a scholarship offer from Missouri.
Conrad Rowley — The 6’4 interior offensive lineman is being pursued by Northwestern, Minnesota and Kansas.
Steve Clinkscale has already hosted a few talented kids from Michigan this spring. This weekend he’s bringing more in from The Great Lakes State.
Michael Fletcher — Considered one of the 25 best defensive ends in the 2019 class, the four-star prospect hails from Flint, Michigan. Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines are currently the favorite in his recruitment, but Fletcher plans on visiting Georgia next week after recently picking up an offer from Kirby Smart.
Jalen Graham — The three-star athlete hails from early enrollee DeAndre Square’s alma mater, Cass Tech.
Spencer Holstege — A 6’5″ 260-pound offensive tackle from Grand Rapids, Holstege does not yet have a UK scholarship offer.
Josh DeBerry — Kentucky was the first SEC school to offer the three-star cornerback from Warren, Michigan.
Other Top Prospects
Everybody else that didn’t fall in an easy category you will find below.
Moses Douglass — A four-star safety from Springfield, Ohio, he’s coached by his Dad, former Kentucky Wildcat safety and 11-year NFL veteran Moe Douglass. One of the Top 300 players in his class, Wisconsin, Tennessee and Michigan are all in on Douglass.
Jashon Watkins — A four-star athlete from East Nashville, Tennessee, Kentucky was just the second school to offer Watkins. He now holds offers from Oklahoma, Florida, South Carolina and others.
Richie Hagarty — Hagarty is a 6’3, 215-pound outside linebacker from Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. He’s received some early interest from Notre Dame.
Jammie Robinson — The four-star athlete from Crisp County, Georgia already holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, Michigan, and of course, Kentucky.
Paris Johnson Jr. — Junior Day isn’t just for Juniors. The 6’7 offensive tackle from Cincinnati St. X is considered the No. 116 player in the 2020 recruiting class by 247 Sports. Ohio State has extended the early offer. Notre Dame, Auburn, Tennessee Michigan State have also offered Johnson. He received an offer from Kentucky earlier this week.
By Nick Roush on ©February 14th, 2018 @ 1:00pm
When Mark Stoops added Michael Smith and Brad White to the Kentucky football staff, they brought new recruiting territories to the table. The two have already reached out to four-star prospects after just two weeks.
White hails from Rhode Island, a state that produces few Division I football recruits. Stoops was hesitant to say how much UK would invest in the small Northeastern state. When White was asked if UK should expect to get every top recruit from the state, he responded:
“I wish. We’ll see,” White said. “There’s not many players that come out of the state, but I am really looking forward to getting there and into that mid-Atlantic area because we’ve had a lot of good players from New Jersey, Washington D.C., and Maryland. So we’ll hit the ground running there and see if we can get some more.”
Yesterday White hit the ground running at his alma mater by offering the best player in the state of Rhode Island, four-star offensive tackle Xavier Truss. The 6’7″ 325-pound offensive lineman holds offers from Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan and Alabama.
Two of White’s premier pass-rushers are from the Mid-Atlantic area, Josh Allen and Josh Paschal. White will chip in to help Marrow recruit one of Paschal’s former Good Counsel teammates, 3-star 2019 wide receiver Cam Hart.
Smith’s ties are to a state that consistently produces top football recruits, Louisiana. He’s wasted no time reaching out to a ton elite wide receivers from The Pelican State. The following five recruits from the 2019 class have received scholarship offers from UK since Smith’s introductory press conference:
- Jacob Bernard — No relation to Andy Bernard, UK is the first SEC offer for the 5-11 WR.
- Kash Foley — Foley has received a few D-I offers, but UK is the biggest name on the WR’s list.
- Christian Harris — The four-star WR/CB from Baton Rouge is considered a Top 100 player and the #7 athlete in the country.
- Quinton Torbor — A 6’2″ four-star slot receiver from Destrehen, La., he’ll be on of the best 300 players in the nation before he makes a college decision.
- Devonta Lee — The 6-2 athlete is a Top 50 prospect and the #7 WR in America.
The top three targets — Harris, Torbor and Lee — are all projected by the Crystal Ball to end up at LSU. Smith did not reveal much of his pitch to lure players out of the state.
“It’s the brand. I think what a lot of people don’t understand about a lot of kids from Louisiana is that they are willing to leave the state. The fact that Kentucky is a SEC football program, I think we’re in the best conference in college football…The SEC is the SEC and I think that’s a big sell for a lot of kids not only in Louisiana, but everybody.”
Smith and White may not be able to get the best of the best from their respective territories, but it only takes one commitment to give Kentucky momentum in an uncharted part of the country.
By KSR on ©February 08th, 2018 @ 3:45pm
The Depth Chart Podcast returns to recap an excellent National Signing Day for the Kentucky Wildcats. This year’s class is ranked No. 37. Freddie will help you understand how the Cats slightly dipped in the recruiting rankings and why you shouldn’t be worried. You’ll also hear the NSD from a high school coach’s perspective when Scott County’s Jim McKee joins the program. Highlights:
— The significance of the Early Signing Period and stealing on from Ohio State.
— Who will be able to make an immediate impact?
— How high school coaches are involved in the recruiting process.
— Why kids should play as many sports as they want to in high school.
— UK signed zero instate kids; is it an anomaly or cause for concern?
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to Kentucky Sports Radio on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
1. The Best Possible Finish
When Mark Stoops came to Kentucky, he brought a large spotlight to National Signing Day. The theatrics have never disappointed the BBN, but if there’s a surprise, it’s usually a bad one. The last time fans were treated to more than one surprise addition on National Signing Day, Jason Hatcher and Ryan Timmons pledged to play for their home-state school just months after Stoops was hired.
This year Kentucky convinced Chris Oats, a long-time Ohio State recruit, to turn down the Buckeyes and play for UK. It’s difficult to make a bigger splash on the recruiting scene. The Cats also filled a vacancy in the running back room. If Kentucky didn’t get Kavosiey Smoke, the offense would be in trouble in 2019. The Cats accomplished all of their National Signing Day goals.
2. All Hail the Early Signing Period
We knew the Early Signing Period would benefit Kentucky, but we didn’t know it would help this much.
Locking up 20 recruits obviously kept the traditional powerhouses from swooping in at the last-minute to steal some of the Cats’ best recruits. The addition of Chris Oats was an unintended consequence in this process. Vince Marrow said yesterday he would not have been able to devote the time and resources to Oats without the early signing period.
“I think us signing them guys and having 20 guys secure really played in factor in me going full bore on Chris Oats, because when you’re trying to get that type of kid, it’s a constant,” Marrow said. “You gotta recruit that kid everyday. If we didn’t have the early signing period, we probably would’ve been battling Ohio State for two more guys that we have that’s already locked in. I really like it. You got most of your class signed and then you can focus on four or five guys, I’ll take that anytime.”
Replicating this kind of success in the early signing period will not be as easy now that other schools have seen how things shake out, but you’ve gotta commend Marrow and Stoops for immediately finding the right formula.
3. Denzil Ware has Returned to Team Activities
When Jordan Jones and Denzil Ware announced they would return for one more season in the Bluegrass, it was safe to say they were in good standing with the team. Mark Stoops confirmed they are participating in team activities, but there are still some requirements they must meet to be able to play for Kentucky this fall.
4. Vince Marrow’s Hands are Ginormous
Even Andre the Giant would be impressed.
5. Expanding Territory
The addition of Michael Smith has given Kentucky a new recruiting option, Louisiana. Smith’s recruiting specialty was also the specialty of a former assistant, Bradley Dale Peveto. At the time, Stoops didn’t want to overstretch Kentucky’s resources. With an additional assistant and established success in Ohio, Vince Marrow said Kentucky will aggressively recruit new areas.
“We are still going to stay in a six-hour radius but also do some spot recruiting.” Marrow said Brad White will also do a little work around New Jersey and Rhode Island. “It’s just a platform that we keep going forward. We are going to Michigan, Maryland, Ohio, of course we’re going to recruit Florida.”
6. Be Patient with the 2018 Class
For the first time since Stoops became the head coach, UK’s strength is their experience. Loaded with upperclassmen, ninety percent of the defensive production is returning. The numbers aren’t quite as significant on offense, but most of the big pieces are back.
With a ton of experienced talent, Kentucky didn’t need to find players prepared to immediately perform. They plugged all of the necessary holes and will redshirt the rest of the recruits.
Kentucky only has one nose, Quinton Bohanna, on the roster, so they got the best player from Michigan and the highest-ranked player in the class to provide relief. The Cats lost their punter, kicker (the school’s all-time leading scorer) and quarterback. They will be replaced by the Australia’s best kicker, the No. 1 kicker in the continental U.S. and the nation’s No. 1 JUCO dual-threat quarterback. Not too shabby.
The other stars in the class — offensive tackle Darian Kinnard, tight end Brenden Bates, Oats — all have the talent and potential to become stars; they just don’t need to be stars right now. Hindsight will eventually see the 2018 class as one of Stoops’ best.