Wednesday was a big day for the University of Kentucky football program as Mark Stoops and his staff signed almost the entire 2018 class of Wildcats in a single day during college football’s new early signing period. Of all the schools that took advantage of the new period in its inaugural year, I’m not sure any did so more than UK football. Stoops and Co. really made the most of the new opportunity to get guys locked in a month and a half ahead of time.
As you’ve probably seen, we here at Kentucky-Sports-Radio-dot-com have coverage galore of the day’s events and the players who signed; so much coverage that it’s almost too much for the casual football fan to digest in one sitting. If you fall into that casual fan category — whether it’s because you’re too busy or simply uninterested in the day-to-day football recruiting grind — you probably need the dumbed-down version of what happened throughout the day.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Not everyone spends every waking moment on UK sites and message boards. So for those people — the people who love the UK football program on game days but aren’t as in tune with the happenings in recruiting — here is a more simple and straightforward rundown of the day. Consider it like a “UK Signing Day For Dummies,” not that you’re a dummy.
— Kentucky signed 20 players to its 2018 class. The staff will only add another three or four on National Signing Day in early February, which means they can rest easy knowing the majority of the class is set and there will be no detrimental and surprising decommitments at the last minute.
— All but one of Kentucky’s 20 verbal commits signed. If you were to look at the list Tuesday night, only Xavier Peters, a highly-coveted linebacker out of Ohio, did not sign on the dotted line Wednesday morning. Peters has until Friday to sign in the early period, and if he does, he will be Kentucky’s highest-ranked linebacker signee since Micah Johnson. If his LOI isn’t in by Friday, keeping him through February will be the top priority.
— The Cats also picked up a brand new commit on Wednesday with the addition of wide receiver Bryce Oliver, who filled the wide receiver spot that was left open by Meechi Harris’ surprise Tuesday decommitment. Harris had committed to Kentucky back in October and the staff was very excited to get him. His untimely departure opened the door for Oliver, who is a high school teammate of another signee, Stanley Garner.
— Terry Touchdown is official. Despite some late interest from other major programs, JUCO transfer Terry Wilson remained true to his verbal commitment and inked his Letter of Intent to play quarterback at Kentucky for the next three years. He will be on campus as a participating member of the team this winter; therefore, the 2018 quarterback competition is on.
— Kentucky signed eight players from the state of Florida, which is more Floridians than in any other class in school history. It’s a pretty remarkable feat given the competition for players in the Sunshine State these days. Nicely done, Eddie Gran.
— Kentucky signed two players from the state of Michigan, one of whom is the state’s top overall player. Kentucky hasn’t had a player from Michigan in decades.
— Marquan McCall is the aforementioned top player in Michigan, and he is also the highest-ranked player in Kentucky’s 2018 class. He is monster of a young man who can play either side of the line, but he is projected as a defensive lineman for the Wildcats. He signed with Kentucky over Michigan and Michigan State.
— Vince Marrow is a happy man after signing two new tight ends of contrasting styles. Three-star Brendan Bates is a more of a pass-catching tight end, while three-star Keaton Upshaw is massive person who can knock some heads off. Both are from Ohio, and both are very good gets.
— John Schlarman’s offensive line might’ve benefitted most from the first wave of talent in the ’18 class. He adds Quintin Wilson, a top-15 center nationally; Darrian Kinnard, the eighth-ranked tackle in the class, according to 247Sports; another interior player in Kenneth Horsey; and maybe Marquan McCall, depending on which side of the ball he plays.
— Aussie punter Max Duffy was the first member of the class to sign, given the fact he was several hours ahead when the signing period began. He will be 25 years old when he suits up for the Cats next fall, likely as the starter.
— Kicker Chance Poore signed, too. What a name.
— For the first time ever, the class includes zero players from the state of Kentucky. That could of course change before its completed, but for now, Stoops has zero in-state guys on board.
— Running back signee Chris Rodriguez has drawn comparisons to Benny Snell. That is a very unfair comparison for anyone, but both Freddie Maggard and Mark Stoops have said they see similarities in how the two running backs play.
— Stoops noted that many of his new signees were asked to wait until February by other top-tier programs. He said, “There’s guys on here that were getting poked at until last night, and constantly pulled and asked to not sign, and don’t sign early and come on visits, and being offered scholarships yesterday or the past couple days, and these guys didn’t waver.”
— The class is (currently) ranked No. 27 by Rivals.com and No. 28 in the 247 Sports Composite Rankings.