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Smooth December Signing Day


Mark Stoops signed 20 Wildcats on the program’s first ever December Signing Day. The experiment went as good as could be expected; it could have also been described as “smooth.” Final class rankings will be released soon. Results will vary, of course.

Not too long ago Kentucky was battling mid-level programs for talent. One thing that jumped out at me on Wednesday was the schools that Kentucky competed against on the recruiting trail, and won. Just think about it. If the 20 Cats hadn’t signed on Wednesday, competing head coaches would have turned the heat up in the latter portion of the recruiting process. There’s no such thing as a fair fight in the fairytale term/world known as “committed.” Below you’ll see each position group broken down by the player’s name and list of a schools that Vince Marrow defeated for signatures.

Secondary

Any of the three could compete for playing time in 2018 if necessary. Jamari Brown and Stanley Garner fit the mold of Derrick Baity and Chris Westry. Both are 6’2-plus. But, these two rookies may be a tad bit faster. Brown played continuous press-coverage. Garner is higher rated. Both appear to be fiercely competitive. Dom Williams played for Fulton High School in Knoxville prior to attending Highland Community College. This tells me that he’s extremely well coached and disciplined. Fulton’s coaching staff is known for player development.

Name Chose UK Over
Jamari Brown Auburn, SC, Oregon, Louisville, Pitt
Stanley Garner Miami, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Michigan
Dom Williams Iowa State, Colorado State

Defensive Line

Marquan McCall is the top player from the state of Michigan. He’s also rated as a top-5 guard in the nation. McCall has the size, mentality, and ability to play offense or defense. As of now, he’s projected at nose tackle and could press for immediate playing time. Qua Mahone is a late riser much like Josh Allen and TJ Carter were in prior classes. A basketball player that added 40 lbs., Mahone is raw and possesses and extremely high ceiling. Davoan Hawkins has something special about him; high effort/motor. Hawkins rarely left the field while playing for a Florida 3A state championship team. Hawkins and Mahone will require time in the strength and conditioning program. McCall could be ready now.

Defensive line and “Best Available” are the two target groups to close out the Class of 2018.

Name Chose UK Over
Qua Mahone Tennessee
Marquan McCall Michigan, Michigan St, Penn St,
Davoan Hawkins Miami, Oklahoma, Wisconsin,

Linebacker

Ashtan Pierre was labeled as an ATH. He’s fluid, twitchy, and explosive. Plays with a mean streak. Needs to add weight and upper-body strength but is fast enough to play safety and plenty physical enough to challenge at linebacker. Deandre Square is said to be an early enrollee. This could help the Cass Tech alum in his search for near-term playing time. The fact that Kentucky signed a linebacker from Cass Tech, one of the nation’s premier producers of college and NFL talent, is an incredible accomplishment. Stoops didn’t just sign any player from Cass Tech, but a linebacker with offers from LSU and most other major programs.

Name Chose UK Over
Ashtan Pierre South Carolina, Oklahoma, Iowa, Ole Miss
Deandre Square LSU, Michigan St, Wisconsin


Offensive Line

All three are technicians. Darian Kinnard is a US Army All American. The massive tackle is agile and skilled. Kenneth Horsey is a mauler. His film was fun to watch. Quintin Wilson played tackle at Turpin HS, but is projected at center. All three are over 300 lbs., well coached, and could compete upon reporting to campus. The trio is the most college-ready collection of offensive linemen that Mark Stoops has signed during his stay in Lexington.

Name Chose UK Over
Kenneth Horsey Miss St, Ole Miss
Darian Kinnard Penn St, UCLA, Tennessee
Quintin Wilson Virginia, Northwestern, Duke

Quarterback

Terry Wilson’s offer sheet was close hold information but consisted of a “who’s who” club of college football. Wilson was arguably the most coveted junior college signal caller in the class. An elite athlete, Wilson will enroll in January and compete for the starting job from day one. Fast, elusive, and possesses a quick release; Wilson is dynamic with the football.

Name Chose UK Over
Terry Wilson Florida, Nebraska, A Bunch More

Receiver

Bryce Oliver was a surprise name that was called on Wednesday. But, several coach’s eyes lit up when discussing the Dillard product. Marvin Alexander has several of Lamar Thomas’ on-field traits. He could provide an immediate vertical threat. Akeem Hayes was a Louisville commit, flipped to UK and is more of slot receiver. These three aren’t projects. These Cats can flat out play and are more college ready than last year’s group.

Name Chose UK Over
Marvin Alexander Wisconsin, Syracuse, UCF
Akeem Hayes Louisville, Oregon, NC State
Bryce Oliver Louisville, Pitt, NC State, Iowa

Running Back

I said something on the signing show that I thought I was going to regret. I mentioned that Chris Rodriquez reminded me of Benny Snell. Seems like just yesterday that I was being asked which historical RB that Benny Snell most resembled. Eddie Gran and Mark Stoops said the same thing on Wednesday which made me look less like a fool than originally expected.

I saw Rodriguez force two fumbles and have a tackle for loss while playing defense; ON THE SAME PLAY! Bruiser, loves contact. One-cut RB.

Name Chose UK Over
Chris Rodriguez Ole Miss, Miss St, Troy

Tight End

Greg Hart is graduating. CJ Conrad will be a senior (wow, by the way). Vince Marrow put in serious work by signing two of Ohio’s best in Brenden Bates and Keaton Upshaw. Polished pass catchers. At least one may play vs. Central Michigan in the opener.

Name Chose UK Over
Brenden Bates Iowa, Pitt, Vanderbilt
Keaton Upshaw Pitt, West Virginia, Purdue

Specialists

Back to the rankings. The Wildcats signed a kicker and punter plus one unranked defensive player. Rankings may reflect that as specialists normally don’t rate highly in the star system; however, it could be said that Kentucky may have signed the top kicker and punter in this entire class. Chance Poore was the South Carolina Specialist of the Year and a Ray Guy Award winner. Max Duffy is the top Australian punter prospect. Coach Dean Hood was a happy dude; as he should have been. 

Name Chose UK Over
Chance Poore All UK
Max Duffy All UK

You can match measurables and stars below if you’d like. The Class of 2018 is incomplete but got off to a strong start in December. Several multi-sport and positional players in this group; I like that even if other evaluators don’t. If I had to compare, I’d say that this bunch is similar to that of 2015. But, much like other classes, only time will tell. 

Name Position Hometown Height Weight  247 Composite
Marquan McCall OG Oak Park, Mi. 6-4 320 4-star
Darian Kinnard OT Cleveland, Oh. 6-7 336 4-star
Terry Wilson QB Omaha, Ne. 6-2 180 3-star
DeAndre Square S/OLB Detroit, Mi. 6-1 200 3-star
Brenden Bates TE Cincinnati, Oh. 6-5 230 3-star
Stanley Garner CB Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 6-3 180 3-star
Quintin Wilson C Cincinnati, Oh. 6-3 290 3-star
Marvin Alexander WR Hollywood, Fl. 6-3 175 3-star
Jamari Brown CB Pompano Beach, Fl. 6-3 180 3-star
Davoan Hawkins DE Hollywood, Fl. 6-4 270 3-star
Akeem Hayes ATH/WR Hollywood, Fl. 5-10 175 3-star
Keaton Upshaw TE Lima, Oh. 6-7 225 3-star
Bryce Oliver WR Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. 6-3 205 3-star
Christopher Rodriguez RB McDonough, Ga. 5-11 200 3-star
Ashtan Pierre ATH Deerfield Beach, Fl. 6-2 191 3-star
Domonique Williams JUCO CB Knoxville, Tn. 5-10 190 3-star
Kenneth Horsey OT Seminole, Fl. 6-4 325 3-star
Jerquavion “Qua” Mahone DT Manchester, Ga. 6-4 195 N/A
Chance Poore K Anderson, Sc. 6-3 200 3-star
Max Duffy P Western Australia 6-1 176 3-star

Article written by Freddie Maggard

Former University of Kentucky Quarterback and Andy Griffith Fan Club President