For the first time, Kentucky football will sign its newest prospects a little early. Instead of waiting until the first Wednesday in February, the 2018 class will get to make it official in December of 2017.
Mark Stoops expects to sign about 20 of the 24-man recruiting class today. Keep it locked right here as the faxes roll in. We’ll keep you updated on who’s in, who’s out, any potential surprises and a ton of typical KSR ridiculousness.
Nick, 9:37 — Shut it Down.
Xavier Peters will likely wait until February to sign. Instead of waiting for his official papers, enjoy a couple hours of Kentucky Sports Radio then come back to the website for press conference updates from Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow following Music City Bowl Practice around 12:30.
Nick, 9:28 — Add Brenden Bates to the Board
A huge get for Kentucky, Bates initially planned on waiting to sign until the traditional February date, but after last weekend’s official visit he could not wait any longer. That leaves Xavier Peters as the only IK commitment who has yet to make it official.
SIGNED: BRENDEN BATES
Tight End | 6-5 | 230 lbs.
Cincinnati, Oh. | Moeller
|ESPN||— | 11 TE||Top 247||No. 674 | 30 TE|
|Rivals||— | 20 TE||247 Composite||No. 568 | 24 TE|
Bio: An early commitment in the 2018 class, Bates spurned Louisville, West Virginia, Minnesota, Iowa and others to come to Kentucky. A pass-first tight end that often plays split out as a wide receiver, he’ll fit in seamlessly at UK once he adds some weight to his frame and learns the art of run-blocking from Vince Marrow and C.J. Conrad.
Nick, 9:00 — Signees go Head-to-Head
Kentucky’s two junior college signees played in the same Kansas Community College league. Cornerback Dom Williams went head-to-head with Terry “Touchdown” Wilson. Williams picked up a blocked field goal and returned it 80-yards to give Highland the early 6-0 lead, but a pair of second half touchdowns by Terry Touchdown carried Garden City to a 27-23 victory.
Nick, 8:56 — Hayes: Heavyweight Champ
Chaminade-Madonna wide receiver Akeem Hayes has the best football recruiting picture since Jacob Hyde rolled into prom on a lawnmower.
Nick, 8:41 — And then there were two…
Now that Ashtan Pierre is on the board, Kentucky is only waiting on a pair of highly sought after recruits from Cincinnati, tight end Brenden Bates and linebacker Xavier Peters.
SIGNED: ASHTAN PIERRE
Athlete | 6-2 | 191 lbs.
Deerfield Beach, Fl. | Deerfield Beach
|ESPN||–| 93 ATH||Top 247||No. 1,368 | 99 ATH|
|Rivals||— | —||247 Composite||No. 1,535 | 116 ATH|
Bio: Pierre earned the tag “athlete.” A running back and returner on offense, on the other side of the ball he moved between linebacker and defensive end. Few linebackers can return kicks for touchdowns, but that was Pierre’s game at the prep level. He doesn’t have the highest rankings, but he caught the attention of Oklahoma, South Carolina, Ole Miss, Iowa State and Iowa before he committed to Kentucky.
Drew, 8:23 — Surprise! Cats add a new wide receiver on signing day.
SIGNED: BRYCE OLIVER
Wide Receiver | 6-3 | 205 lbs.
Fort Lauderdale, Fl. | Dillard
|ESPN||— | 143 WR||Top 247||No. 1119 | 116 WR|
|Rivals||— | —||247 Composite||No. 1030 | 159 WR|
Bio: Three-star wide receiver Bryce Oliver is a signing day surprise for the Wildcats as he committed and signed over offers from Louisville, Iowa State, Iowa, FAU, N.C. State and UCF. Oliver is the second Dillard High School star to sign with Kentucky today, joining his high school teammate, Stanley Garner, one of UK’s prized pickups in the class. Garner also has a connection to UK freshman linebacker Jordan Wright; the two won a state basketball title together at Dillard.
Drew, 8:22 – Lynn Bowden on defense?!
Coach Stoops just said he might experiment with Lynn Bowden on defense after Bowden “hit him up” about wanting to play that side of the ball.
Nick, 8:14 — TERRY TOUCHDOWN IS OFFICIALLY A WILDCAT
SIGNED: TERRY WILSON
|Terry “Touchdown” Wilson
Dual-Threat Quarterback | 6-3 | 195 lbs.
Omaha, Ne. | Garden City C.C.
|ESPN||No. 5 | 1 QB||Top 247||No. 27 | 2 QB|
|Rivals||N/A||247 Composite||No. 31 | 2 QB|
Bio: Touchdown Terry turned the BBN on its head when he made a surprise commitment following his official visit to Kentucky two weeks ago. The former Oregon quarterback was being heavily pursued by Scott Frost at Nebraska and Dan Mullen at Florida, but when he saw the Cats practice, he knew exactly where he was going to call home. With three years of eligibility remaining, Touchdown Terry could become QB1 during spring practice.
Nick, 8:10 — We’re up to 16 with Chris Rodriguez.
SIGNED: CHRISTOPHER RODRIGUEZ
Running Back | 6′ | 200 lbs.
McDonough, Ga. | Ola
|ESPN||— | 97 RB||Top 247||No. 862 | 51 RB|
|Rivals||— | 85 Ga.||247 Composite||No. 1084 | 60 RB|
Bio: Like Benny Snell, Rodriguez is at his best playing physical football in-between the tackles. Like Benny Snell, he has been overlooked by all the recruiting services. Like Benny Snell, he managed to post stupid stats. In each of his final three seasons he rushed for more than 1,400 yards. He finished his career just shy of the 5,000-yard milestone (4,808), averaged 7.1 yards per carry and scored 70 touchdowns.
Drew, 8:07 – Random thoughts while following along
— Nick is on fire this morning. I’m supposed to be helping out but he called ISO so we cleared the lane and let him do his thing. Big time players make big time plays in big time games.
— I suppose today will kill the interest in the actual signing day in February. With all of these signatures rolling in this morning, I wonder if UK will even bother doing anything special in a couple of months because there won’t be many left to sign. They’ll only be after a handful of guys.
— Get in here, Terry Wilson. The Cats are still awaiting the LOI from their next QB, who should be signing any minute now. Xavier Peters is another big name commit who still hasn’t submitted his paperwork, and hopefully he will soon.
— The early signing period is very beneficial for programs like Kentucky. Sorry, Alabama.
Nick, 8:01 — Chaminade-Madonna is in.
Akeem Hayes beat his teammates to the punch, but now Marvin Alexander and Davoan Hawkins have made it official.
SIGNED: DAVOAN HAWKINS
Strong-side Defensive End | 6-4 | 270 lbs.
Hollywood, Fl. | Chaminade-Madonna
|ESPN||No. 5 | 67 DT||Top 247||No. 912 | 39 SDE|
|Rivals||N/A||247 Composite||No. 815 | 35 SDE|
Bio: One of the first to commit to the 2018 class, Miami made a late push to flip Hawkins, but he remained firm to Kentucky. Oklahoma was originally in the mix prior to his Kentucky commitment.
The physical defensive lineman recorded 50 tackles, 22 TFL and 7 Sacks this season. What he lacks in mass, he makes up for in explosiveness. If Hawkins can add significant weight to his wide frame, he has the talent and versatility to contribute right away as a five-technique defensive end.
SIGNED: MARVIN ALEXANDER
Wide Receiver | 6-3 | 175 lbs.
Hollywood, Fl. | Chaminade-Madonna
|ESPN||— | 145 WR||Top 247||No. 911 | 134 WR|
|Rivals||— | 88 WR||247 Composite||No. 659 | 111 WR|
Bio: Playing alongside Akeem Hayes, Alexander complemented the slot receiver with top-end speed. Eddie Gran has been searching for receivers that can take the top off a defense and that’s exactly what Alexander can do. An element that was missing from the offense this year, he could step in and fill that role right away if needed.
In Alexander’s state championship senior season he caught 37 passes for 578 yards and 8 touchdowns. Wisconsin, Syracuse and UCF were Alexander’s other options.
Nick, 8:00 — Two Important Nuggets
UK has revealed a few things during their signing day show. Kentucky’s Australian punter Max Duffy will have three years of eligibility, which means he can play until he’s 27. Not too shabby.
There was also a question as to which side of the ball Marquan McCall will play. UK lists him as a defensive lineman. Expect to see McCall rotating in as a freshman at nose with another guy who played as a freshman, Quinton Bohanna.
Nick, 7:57 — Three More on the Board
Welcome defensive tackle Jerquavion “Qua” Mahone, tight end Keaton Upshaw and JUCO defensive back Dom Williams.
SIGNED: DOMONIQUE WILLIAMS
|Domonique “Dom” Williams
Cornerback | 5-10 | 190 lbs.
Knoxville, Tn. | Highland C.C.
|ESPN||— | No. 6 CB||Top 247||No. 111 | 14 CB|
|Rivals||— | —||247 Composite||No. 135 | 19 CB|
Bio: Williams has a three-time state champion and a two-time all-state selection in Tennessee prior to his junior college days. This year at Highland he had 52 tackles, 11 pass breakups and three interceptions. The Cats have great numbers in the defensive back meeting room, but they’re primary big backs. Williams fits the traditional look of a corner with great speed just under six-feet tall.
SIGNED: JERQUAVION MAHONE
|Jerquavion “Qua” Mahone
Defensive Tackle | 6-3 | 300 lbs.
Manchester, Ga. | Manchester
|ESPN||— | —||Top 247||No. 1,077 | 66 DT|
|Rivals||— |–||247 Composite||— | —|
Bio: Kentucky’s most recent commit fills an important position of need, defensive tackle. A four-year starter that plays on both sides of the line of scrimmage and on the basketball court, Mahone has the measurables and the athleticism to take his game to the next level at UK. A product of the smallest division of high school football in Georgia, Mahone’s late, unheralded rise mirrors another UK defensive lineman from that same division, T.J. Carter.
SIGNED: KEATON UPSHAW
Tight End | 6-7 | 230 lbs.
Lima, Oh. | Lima Senior
|ESPN||— | 22 TE||Top 247||No. 673 | 29 TE|
|Rivals||— |26 TE||247 Composite||No. 676 | 31 TE|
Bio: If Bates is the pass-catching tight end, Upshaw is “big-butt” tight end (shout out Ryan Lemond). Upshaw is listed at 6-7 230 pounds, but it does not accurately capture how big this dude is. A powerful, smash mouth football player, some schools might consider keeping him on the offensive line, but he moves too well for that. Upshaw also had offers from Auburn, Louisville, Purdue, Louisville, Pitt and most of the MAC.
Nick, 7:53 — A Kicker and an Early Enrollee
Chance Poore and DeAndre Square are now on the board. Celebrate accordingly.
SIGNED: CHANCE POORE
Placekicker | 6-3 | 200 lbs.
Anderson, Sc. | Westside
|ESPN||— | 23 K||Top 247||No. 2,874 | 15 K|
|ProKicker||— | 1 K||247 Composite||— | 15 K|
Bio: Poore has some awfully big shoes to fill, but he might just have the boot to do it. Larger than your average placekicker at 6-3, he knocked down a 48-yarder this year to become the Specialist of the Year in South Carolina 5A Football. Poor was also the MVP in the Ray Guy Kicking Camp, the same camp where UK found Max Duffy.
SIGNED: DeANDRE SQUARE
Safety | 6-1 | 200 lbs.
Detroit, Mi. | Cass Technical
|ESPN||— | 53 S||Top 247||No. 452 | 33 S|
|Rivals||— | 33 S||247 Composite||No. 522 | 38 S|
Bio: A vision of versatility, the two-way player made tackles from a variety of spots on defense. Considered a safety by some and an outside linebacker by others, if you want a UK comparison, think Winston Guy. A physical safety, Kentucky’s second elite athlete from Michigan brings the hit stick in run support.
Square chose the Cats over Michigan State, LSU, Purdue, Minnesota and received some attention from Ohio State. He’ll play in the Offense-Defense All-American game before he gets to Lexington in January.
Nick, 7:41 — The Top-Ranked Recruit has Signed
HUGE news. Michigan offensive guard/nose tackle Marquan McCall has faxed in his papers to UK. He’s joined by wide receiver Akeem Hayes, center Quintin Wilson and defensive back Jamari Brown.
SIGNED: MARQUAN McCALL
Offensive Guard/Nose | 6-4 | 320 lbs.
Oak Park, Mi. | Oak Park
|ESPN||No. 250 | 15 OG||Top 247||No. 135 | 4 OG|
|Rivals||No. 138 | 4 OG||247 Composite||No. 156 | 4 OG|
Bio: Assigned to open up a new territory for Kentucky football recruiting, Steve Clinkscale went to Michigan and got the highest-ranked player in the state. Considered the top-ranked recruit in Kentucky’s class, McCall is an interior athlete that can do it all. Ready to play right away, the only question is whether he’ll play on the offensive or defensive line.
SIGNED: AKEEM HAYES
Wide Receiver | 5-10 | 175 lbs.
Hollywood, Fl. | Chaminade-Madonna
|ESPN||— | 55 ATH||Top 247||No. 924 | 74 ATH|
|Rivals||— | —||247 Composite||No. 1413 | 108 ATH|
Bio: One of UK’s three 2018 commitments from Chaminade-Madonna, the wide receiver caught a 44-yard touchdown pass in the program’s first state title in 12 years. The slot receiver caught a ton of screen passes and averaged 11 yards per carry on jet sweeps. Hayes originally committed to Louisville, but flipped to UK following a summer camp at Kentucky.
SIGNED: JAMARI BROWN
Cornerback | 6-3 | 180 lbs.
Pompano Beach, Fl. | Blanche Ely
|ESPN||–| 81 CB||Top 247||No. 704 | 68 CB|
|Rivals||— | —||247 Composite||No. 790 | 70 CB|
Bio: Brown never left the field for his high school. A nasty corner that refuses to lose 50/50 balls, he had offers from all of the big schools — Auburn, Miami, Texas A&M, Oregon, Miss. State — but the South Florida kid stuck with Kentucky.
SIGNED: QUINTIN WILSON
Center | 6-3 | 290 lbs.
Cincinnati, Oh. | Turpin
|ESPN||— | 9 C||Top 247||No. 821 | 14 C|
|Rivals||— | 27 Oh.||247 Composite||No. 610 | 12 C|
Bio: Wilson has a quality you want to see in every center: good hands. After the snap, he attacks ferociously. Athletic on the inside, he also moved to tackle when needed. An All-State selection in Ohio, Wilson also received offers from Minnesota, Duke, Virginia and Boston College.
Nick, 7:38 — Garner, Kinnard and Horsey are on the Board
Kentucky has officially added a pair of offensive lineman and a lengthy, game-changing defensive back.
SIGNED: STANLEY GARNER
Cornerback | 6-3 | 180 lbs.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. | Dillard
|ESPN||— | 54 CB||Top 247||No. 514 | 46 CB|
|Rivals||— | 35 CB||247 Composite||No. 449 | 45 CB|
Bio: Hailing from Dillard High School, the same school as freshman edge rusher Jordan Wright and wide receiver target Bryce Oliver, Garner is an athlete that can play any defensive back position. Courted late in the process by Scott Frost at Nebraska, he turned down the Cornhuskers and plans on enrolling at UK this spring.
SIGNED: DARIAN KINNARD
Offensive Tackle | 6-7 | 340 lbs.
Cleveland, Oh. | St. Ignatius
|ESPN||No. 250 | 26 OT||Top 247||No. 101 | 8 OT|
|Rivals||— | 33 OT||247 Composite||No. 253 | 17 OG|
Bio: Originally from Knoxville, he moved to Cleveland and quickly became one of the country’s best offensive tackles. Coached by high school legend Chuck Kyle, a three-time National Champion at St. Ignatius High School, you can see it in Kinnard’s film. An intelligent player who will eventually become a starter, he finished his high school career with All-State and U.S. Army All-American honors.
SIGNED: KENNETH HORSEY
Offensive Tackle | 6-4 | 325 lbs.
Sanford, Fl. | Seminole
|ESPN||— | —||Top 247||No. 1313 | 50 OG|
|Rivals||— | —||247 Composite||— | —|
Bio: A guy named Horsey is going to play for Kentucky. The puns will be as plentiful as the pancakes for this offensive lineman who committed to UK just a week ago. Horsey also considered Miss. State, Missouri, UCF and USF.
Nick, 7:32 — Stanley Garner is Geeked
The four-star defensive back from Ft. Lauderdale’s Dillard High School is excited to sign today. He plans on enrolling this January (and possibly bring a wide receiver teammate with him?).
Lord i canâ€™t thank you enough Iâ€™ve made Iï¸t to see December 20th National Signing Day â€¼ï¸ðŸ™ðŸ¾
— Stanley Garner lll (@StanleyG_9) December 20, 2017
Nick, 7:27 — Signing Day Special
Freddie Maggard and the rest of the UK Sports Network are about to go LIVE from Kroger Field for the Early Signing Day Special. Check it out on Watch ESPN or follow this link to see Freddie go crazy on the telestrator.
Nick, 7:19 — Sick Burn.
There’s no better way to start your day than by trolling Louisville, and today it didn’t come from a Kentucky fan. Mark Schlabach is ESPN’s preeminent college football writer and a Georgia graduate. This is how he greeted National Signing Day Tweeters.
Happy Early Signing Day! Remember, as always, that your team's five-stars could be Louisville Cardinals one day.
— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) December 20, 2017
7:11, Nick — Max Duffy Australian rules football highlights will make your head spin.
– Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 20, 2017
7:00, Nick — First up, Max Duffy
You can count me as one person who forgot that the clock hits 7:01 a.m. much earlier in Australia than it does in the U.S. UK received his papers last night around 8:00 p.m.
SIGNED: MAX DUFFY
Punter | 6-1 | 175 lbs.
Perth, Australia | ProKick Australia
|Pro Kicker||–| No. 2 P||Top 247||— | —|
|Rivals||— | —||247 Composite||— | —|
Bio: Kentucky’s second Australian to punt for Dean Hood, Max Duffy is unlike the rest of his classmates. The 24-year old has already played football professionally. It was Australian Rules Football, but football is football.
After playing in a handful of games he set his sights on playing in America. Competing at a camp alongside the best in the country (including UK kicker Chance Poore), he was the second-best of the bunch. Duffy has untapped potential and an opportunity to make Kentucky Punter U again.