Football Recruiting News
By Nick Roush on ©August 05th, 2019 @ 10:04pm
As the football focus shifts to preseason camp, Vince Marrow dropped a subtle recruiting bomb at UK Football Media Day.
“We got some guys,” he told KSR. “There are some guys that are silent committed that when they announce, it’s going to blow people’s minds. It’s going to take our class way up. There’s some big time dudes that we already got silent commitments from and they just wanna announce on their mom’s birthday or their dad’s birthday. People are going to be fired up.”
The silent commitment is not a rare anomaly in the recruiting world. As Marrow said, most use it to save their public announcement for a special occasion. What’s unique in this situation is that he used the plural of “guys.” Kentucky has 14 players committed, good enough for a Top 25 ranking nationally. Who could the big stars be? Allow me to speculate for just a moment.
Rickey Hyatt Jr. — Many believed the three-star Ohio safety would pull the trigger and commit to the Cats after an unofficial visit in late July. Maybe he did tell the coaching staff he was going to be a Wildcat. A track star who lives in Ohio State’s backyard, I believe Marrow and Co. would be overjoyed if he dragged around “the school up north” for a few months, only to pull out the rug from underneath them right before signing day.
Deondre Buford — The only player who did not commit following the infamous April official visit weekend that included Justin Rogers, John Young and Beau Allen, I would not be surprised if the Michigan offensive tackle already pledged his allegiance to the Cats.
Octavious Oxendine — One of the most sought after players remaining on Kentucky’s board, the addition of the North Hardin defensive tackle would certainly “blow people’s minds.” A four-star prospect that’s considered one of the nation’s top 250 recruits, Ox is exactly what UK is looking for in the middle of the defense.
Vito Tisdale — It’s difficult to gauge exactly where the Bowling Green safety’s recruitment stands. The four-star recruit kept a low profile throughout the recruiting season until he announced yesterday that he will reveal his college decision on national TV at the All-American Game. In theory, if Tisdale wanted to enroll early, he could sign with his future school in December and ask them to keep the news quiet until the All-American Game announcement.
For now, all of that is enjoyable food for thought. Chew on it as you please. If Vince’s statement becomes a reality (and I have no reason to doubt it), 2020 will go down as the highest-ranked recruiting class in school history.
The Magic Number
Many were concerned UK could not capitalize on an excellent ten-win season with a complete recruiting class in 2020. Marrow told me they plan on taking 22 to 24 players this year. Transfers and other defections will give UK almost a complete class.
Did You Know?
UK cannot specifically ask committed players to recruit on the Cats’ behalf. It’s against NCAA rules. Marrow’s just happy this group has taken the initiative on their own.
“We do not tell guys to recruit for us,” he revealed. “They recruit on their own. Certain guys just got that passion. Why wouldn’t you recruit? Don’t you wanna play with good players? If I was coming out, I’d be trying to get all the good players. We got some very smart guys in this class.”
He cannot specifically say who is taking charge, but it’s pretty obvious that Beau Allen and John Young are the ring-leaders.
Big Dog in Louisville
Over the last two years, Kentucky has picked up seven commitments from the city of Louisville (eight if you count Dru Phillips, who grew up in the city). That swift change could not have happened without Marrow.
“We got the guys we’re supposed to get at Kentucky,” Marrow said. “Once we got a few guys committed, that didn’t sit well with people down there.”
At UK Media Day, Vince joked that when he stops at restaurants around town, people tell him to keep it moving. Well, not everyone.
“I’m so happy that he put me down there because I met a lot of good people. There’s a lot of Kentucky fans in the city of Louisville.”
If you’re wondering how Kentucky has overtaken Michigan State on the football recruiting front, take one look at these absolutely horrendous alternate uniforms.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©August 04th, 2019 @ 7:30pm
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but Kentucky football could kick off the year 2020 with another Citrus Bowl bid and a four-star homegrown recruit.
Okay so maybe I’m getting ahead of myself with visualizing another January bowl game, but the Cats very well could add that four-star safety.
Vito Tisdale, 2020’s No. 3 overall prospect in the state of Kentucky, announced via Twitter on Sunday that he will announce his decision at the All American Bowl on Jan. 4.
I will be committing January 4th, 2020 at the All American Bowl ..
— V7?? (@vitotisdale7) August 4, 2019
The Crystal Ball from 24/7 Sports has the Wildcats at 70 percent with Lousiville (20 percent) and Oklahoma (10 percent) trailing behind. Back in May, Kentucky was already the trendy pick for Tisdale and that wave was continued since then. With a decision date now looming, the chances are looking good for the Cats.
The All American Bowl is an event in San Antonio, Texas that showcases the top high school football talent from across the country with teams split up by eastern and western regions of the country. It will be broadcast on NBC at 1 p.m.
Tisdale currently attends Bowling Green high school and is ranked as the 24th best safety in the country.
By Nick Roush on ©August 01st, 2019 @ 11:00am
August 1 marks the beginning of Kentucky football camp and the start of a new recruiting calendar year.
Football Subdivision Schools can now officially extend scholarship offers to prospective recruits. It’s not the first time a team will verbally offer a scholarship to an athlete, but it’s the first time they can put it on the record. Throughout the day UK football recruits will be sharing the photoshopped messages they’ve received from the school. Four-star wide receiver commit Kalil Branham was the first to share his on Twitter.
Louisville wide receiver Jordan Watkins also got in on the action.
In the month of August, Kentucky cannot contact recruits in-person, except for the 48 hours leading into the Cats’ first game of the season August 31. Once the calendar turns to September, things heat up in the class of 2021. Coaches will then be able to call or text recruits like Dekel Crowdus and Jager Burton.
Kentucky’s been on a recruiting roll this summer, but they weren’t able to pry a four-star safety from his home state school.
Makari Paige, the No. 22 safety in the 2020 class, committed to Michigan tonight, which isn’t terribly surprising considering he visited the Wolverines for their BBQ at the Big House event this past weekend. Kentucky was in his top four, along with Ohio State and Penn State.
— MAKARI PAIGE ¹? (@makaripaige) July 30, 2019
The Cats have other irons in the fire at safety, namely Vito Tisdale from Bowling Green and Rickey Hyatt Jr. from Westerville, Ohio; in fact, all three picks in Hyatt’s Crystal Ball are for Kentucky, a very promising sign.
By Nick Roush on ©July 29th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
If Beau Allen contributes as much for Kentucky on the field as he has already off the field, the future of the program is bright.
This weekend 2020 commits Justin Rogers and Earnest Sanders made the trip from Michigan to Lexington. Since it was an unofficial visit, they had to find a place to stay. Instead of shacking up at a hotel, the Allen family opened their doors to Beau’s future teammates. Throw the rankings out the door. The brightest star is Georgie the Bulldog.
He’s so flipping tiny! How can you not love this guy?
In almost every football recruiting class, there’s a guy who commits early that tries to recruit others to join him. Often times that is the quarterback. In this rare instance, the guy is a quarterback who also lives right down the road from the school. Whenever high-profile players visit UK, Allen can make the short drive to campus. If one of the guys needs a place to stay, the Allens can take care of them.
Throw out the recruiting ramifications for just a moment. Remember when you were in high school? The two most exciting things on your calendar were taking a road trip and staying the night at a friend’s house. Those experiences take relationships to another level by creating lasting bonds.
Each and every single one of the kids that has committed to Kentucky in the 2020 class has talked about how it “felt like family” at UK. That’s not by accident. Sure, the coaches and current players all treat them well while they’re on campus, but that happens everywhere. In UK’s 2020 class they have already developed friendships with their future teammates, relationships that will only continue to grow each and every time one makes a weekend trip to Lexington.
Hear from Beau
The gun-slinger loosened up his arm by throwing some foosball with
Uncle Rico LEX-18’s Charlie Walter.
Caught up with Beau Allen for the first time since he decided he will stay home and play for Kentucky. We talked his recruitment and how the program that he's been cheering for his whole life has changed . pic.twitter.com/O5MCqvJ9DH
— Charlie Walter (@CharlieWalterTV) July 28, 2019
Playing the Waiting Game with Rickey Hyatt Jr.
Many folks believed Kentucky could convince the three-star safety to commit to UK during an unofficial visit to Lexington this weekend. That’s much easier said than done.
Throughout Benny Snell’s career, he talked about how getting spurned by Ohio State fueled him to be great. Hyatt Jr. has not had that same problem at Westerville Central High. Hyatt holds an offer from the Buckeyes. Vince Marrow has won his fair share of recruiting battles against Ohio State, but it took a lot of energy and effort over an extended amount of time. Hyatt may not wait until just before NSD like Chris Oats and Lynn Bowden, but I would not be surprised if we’re still having this conversation three months from now.
Michael Drennen Visits Florida Schools
This weekend one of the highest-ranked players still on UK’s board paid visits to a pair of Florida schools. It started Friday night in Gainesville where the four-star athlete from Dublin, Oh. worked out in front of Dan Mullen’s coaching staff.
“I like everything, I like the facilities,” Drennen told Gator Country. “I like how everyone here makes you feel like you belong here, they make you feel like a family. Their pitch to me was pretty good.”
In that interview, Tennessee and Kentucky were the first two schools mentioned aside from Florida. He plans on officially visiting all three, along with Arizona State and possibly LSU. Before leaving the Sunshine State, he made his way down the panhandle to Florida State. The Seminoles did not initially make Drennen’s top ten. Maybe he’s reconsidering the Seminoles?
Florida’s Finest???? pic.twitter.com/s6uWpA5UQK
— Mike Drennen II (@UhhMyNameDonut) July 28, 2019
Two Names from UK Football Camp Commit Elsewhere
Morven Joseph, a three-star defensive end from Florida, camped with his teammates in Lexington earlier this summer and gave a few positive reviews of his experience. On the same night Richie Leonard committed to Florida, Joseph backed of his pledge to the Gators. Even though I hoped it was to achieve some sort of revenge on Dan Mullen on behalf of the Cats, it turns out he was more of a Seminole. Sunday afternoon Joseph committed to Florida State.
A few days earlier, Pikeville product Jackson Hensley committed to Harvard. The incredibly fast wide receiver was one of the better campers in Lexington all summer, but it wasn’t enough to earn an offer from UK. Even so, Hensley is setup to succeed by taking his talents to the Ivy League.
Changes Coming to UK’s Weight Room
Even though it’s practically brand new, they’re tearing up the floor before players report for training camp.
One of the top commitments in Mark Stoops’ Class of 2020 recruiting haul has already made plans to get to Lexington early.
Kalil Branham, a four-star prospect in the 247Sports rankings, announced via Twitter on Monday his plans to graduate high school early. “Im eligible to Graduate this summer but i will wait until next year,” Branham tweeted. “However i will be leaving HS in December.”
Branham did not say that he will be enrolling at Kentucky for the spring semester, but I think we are safe in assuming that his early graduation from Northland High in Columbus, Ohio, means he intends to arrive on UK’s campus ahead of his classmates.
Branham committed to Kentucky on July 1 and he is currently the fifth-highest rated player of the 14 in UK’s class. For more on Branham the football player, read his KSR Film Room evaluation.
This is great news.
By Nick Roush on ©July 26th, 2019 @ 10:30am
Kentucky could receive commitments from two talented Ohio defensive backs in one week.
Two days after Cincinnati Moeller’s Carrington Valentine committed to Kentucky, Rivals reports Westerville Central’s Rickey Hyatt Jr. will be on UK’s campus.
A three-star prospect ranked by Rivals as the No. 32 safety in the state of Ohio, Hyatt grew up in the shadow of the Horseshoe. Aside from Kentucky and Ohio State, Hyatt is also considering Michigan State, North Carolina and Cincinnati.
When Benny Snell attended Westerville Central, he did not receive the time of the day from Ohio State. That’s not the case for this track star. Many folks believe Hyatt could roll the dice before the visit to Kentucky concludes. If he does commit to Kentucky, it would be a huge win over Ohio State in the Buckeyes’ backyard.
By Nick Roush on ©July 24th, 2019 @ 4:27pm
Mark Stoops just added another player to the 2020 recruiting class. Three-Star defensive back Carrington Valentine announced on his Instagram page that he has committed to Kentucky.
View this post on Instagram
The 6-foot, 180-pound cornerback from Cincinnati, Ohio will join his former Moeller High School teammate, tight end Brenden Bates, in Lexington. Valentine chose Kentucky over Michigan State, Pitt, Iowa State, Louisville, Purdue, Cincinnati and Duke.
Valentine is the second cornerback to commit to UK in the 2020 class, joining Louisville native Dru Phillips. Kentucky now has 14 commitments in the class, which ranks No. 19 in America according to Rivals. He is not just a football player. He’s also pretty good at finishing near the rim on the hardwood.
— Carrington Valentine (@run_carri7) July 21, 2018
Valentine can save that for the Johnson Center. See his best work on the gridiron:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 23rd, 2019 @ 1:00pm
Is it time to get the dice rolling again?
Tomorrow afternoon, 2020 three-star cornerback and Kentucky football target Carrington Valentine is set to make his college decision. On his Twitter page today, the 6-foot-0 defensive back out of Cincinnati, OH said the announcement will come at 3:00 p.m. ET.
Committing tomorrow at 3pm!!
— Carrington Valentine (@run_carri7) July 23, 2019
And why is this important for the Big Blue Nation? On Valentine’s Crystal Ball over at 247Sports, Kentucky has 100% of all predictions, including picks in favor of the Wildcats from 247Sports director of football recruiting Steve Wiltfong, Ohio recruiting analyst Bill Greene, and Kentucky football insider Josh Edwards.
Valentine, an Archbishop Moeller product, currently holds offers from Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, Minnesota, Purdue, Rutgers, and West Virginia, among several others. 247Sports lists him as the No. 959 recruit in the nation, the No. 81 cornerback overall, and the No. 35 player in Ohio.
The three-star cornerback prospect visited Lexington on June 21, his most recent recruiting trip.
With his commitment, Kentucky’s class of 2020 would jump from No. 24 in the nation to No. 22 overall, moving from a score of 192.14 to 196.10.
Valentine would become the 14th member of UK’s 2020 recruiting class, joining Justin Rogers, Samuel Anaele, John Young, JuhTahn McClain, Kalil Branham, Beau Allen, Earnest Sanders, Izayah Cummings, Torrance Davis, Andru Phillips, Jordan Watkins, Joshua Jones, and D’Eryk Jackson.
Check out his junior-year highlight reel below:
Come on down, Mr. Valentine.
This week marks the beginning of high school football practices across the state of Kentucky. Before Izayah Cummings took the practice field at Louisville Male High School, the UK wide receiver commit caught up with Rivals’ Woody Wommack. Since his commitment, Cummings has grown even closer to Kentucky’s coaching staff.
“It’s been great,” Cummings said. “The relationship I have with the coaches has only gotten stronger since I committed. They’re always hitting me up and not just one or two, guys from the whole staff just to see how I’m doing. It’s pretty good.”
He added, “I feel more comfortable with them and with the program as a whole. I’m trying to get there for visits every time I can.”
One of four wide receivers in Kentucky’s 2020 recruiting class, Cummings said he’s still receiving letters from other schools, but conversations have been cut off with coaches and he doesn’t plan on taking any other visits. Instead, he’s spending his time preparing for the upcoming football season and recruiting others to join the class.
“I’m working on a lot of guys like (four-star defensive back) Devito Tisdale. He’s from Bowling Green and we are scrimmaging each other and I keep telling him we should be playing together.”
You can watch Cummings and Tisdale go toe-to-toe at Bowling Green High School August 16 at 6:00 p.m.
Earlier today, ESPN released its Top 300 player rankings for the 2020 class, and two Kentucky commits made the cut. Four-star defensive tackle Justin Rogers came in at No. 113, and four-star defensive end Samuel Anaele is No. 186.
By now, you know all about Rogers, but Anaele is another star on the rise. He’s ranked as high as No. 96 in the country by Rivals, making him one of Kentucky’s highest ranked commits in the Stoops era, alongside Rogers and Landon Young. That’s pretty impressive considering he’s only played football for three years.
Other names to keep an eye on:
- No. 232: Makari Paige – The four-star safety has Kentucky in his top four, along with Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State
- No. 279: Desmond Tisdol – The four-star inside linebacker has Kentucky in his top five, along with Auburn, Florida, Georgia Tech, and South Carolina.
- No. 283: Vito Tisdale – Kentucky is considered the favorite for the four-star safety from Bowling Green
- No. 290: Caziah Holmes – The four-star athlete has Kentucky in his top seven, along with Florida, Florida State, Penn State, Tennessee, Miami and Auburn.
Check out the entire list below.
By Nick Roush on ©July 13th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
It seems so far away, but Kentucky football season will be here before you know it. Before we get into the meat and potatoes, there are still a few football things happening around the Big Blue Nation.
Izayah Cummings is Back in Action
Sidelined for most of the spring and early summer with a tweaked hamstring, the future University of Kentucky Wildcat has taken his talents back to the gridiron. Before the talented wide receiver starts preseason practice at Louisville Male High School, he showed off his skills at the Powerade National 7-on-7 Invitational in North Carolina. If you have ESPN+, you can watch Cummings go to work this weekend.
— Blazing 7 on 7 (@Blazing7on7) July 12, 2019
Good Looking Crystal Ball Picks
The 247 Crystal Ball and Rivals Forecast are useful tools in football recruiting. By no means does their status indicate where a prospect will eventually land, but they do give you a good idea as to where things stand in prospect’s recruitment.
Two talented prospects are starting to trend toward Kentucky. Steve Wiltfong, 247’s expert in the Midwest, recently changed his Crystal Ball pick for four-star all-purpose back Michael Drennen to Kentucky. An incredible athlete from Dublin (Oh.) Coffman High School, Drennen can receive handoffs or catch passes out of the slot. He has offers from everywhere, but Vince Marrow is working his magic to bring Drennen to Lexington.
The Cats are also gaining momentum in the recruitment of Rickey Hyatt Jr. A three-star safety from Westerville Central, Benny Snell’s alma mater, 247’s Ohio recruiting reporter Bill Greene put in a pick for UK. Also considering Michigan State and Ohio State, Hyatt will officially visit Kentucky at the end of the month.
UK Players go Camping at Frederick Douglass
Almost a dozen Kentucky Wildcats spent their Friday evening coaching up kids at Frederick Douglass’ football camp. The Broncos are coached by Brian Landis, a former quality control coordinator for Mark Stoops at UK.
Speaking on behalf of his teammates, Terry Wilson was happy to give back to the community that has treated the Wildcats so well.
[WATCH]: "These kids are having fun out here, spending a lot of time. We just wanted to show our appreciation."@TerryTouchdown3, @LynnBowden_1 and several other members of @UKFootball helped out @CoachLandis22 for @FDouglassFB's Annual Friday Night Lights Football Camp. pic.twitter.com/sLijRk7dWK
— Bryan Kennedy (@BKennedyTV) July 13, 2019
49 Days till Football Season
The wait is almost over. There are only six more Saturdays without Kentucky football. If you aren’t hyped for the season to start, the folks at KyWildcatsTV are here to help.
Oh man, we can’t wait. #50Days
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) July 12, 2019
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 09th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Once 2020 five-star defensive tackle Justin Rogers committed to Kentucky, everyone knew it would be a challenge to keep some of the other top programs in the country away and earn his signature on National Signing Day this winter.
After a brief time of worry when Rogers posted a few tweets that seemed to indicate he was wavering on his commitment and followed it up by officially visiting Alabama, Kentucky has seemingly picked up all the momentum once again.
Back on June 24, the five-star prospect tweeted that he was still “100% committed to Kentucky.”
— Justin Rogers (@AllAmerican52JR) June 24, 2019
And then today, Rogers tweeted once again that he “can’t wait to get back to Lexington.”
Man I can’t wait to get back to Lexington#BBN ?
— Justin Rogers (@AllAmerican52JR) July 9, 2019
As the Kentucky coaching staff remains highly optimistic that the will end up signing with UK, one source close to Rogers also tells KSR that they are confident he’ll end up in Lexington when it’s all said and done.
While the five-star prospect has been listed as an offensive guard for the majority of his recruitment, Rogers plays on both sides of the football, and actually prefers to play defensive tackle in college. Kentucky plans on playing him there when he gets on campus.
Rogers, who is rated as Rivals’ No. 12 prospect in the class of 2020, chose the Wildcats over offers from Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Florida, LSU, Ohio State, and Michigan, among others.
You can see his impressive highlights on the offensive and defensive lines below:
162 days left until National Signing Day.
By Nick Roush on ©July 08th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
Hello, Big Blue Nation. Nice to see you, in spite of the circumstances. The Fourth of July has past. There’s no more European football, just hot, steamy 90-degree days for the foreseeable future. We must wait 54 days to see the start of the Kentucky football season. It’s going to be brutal, but I’m confident we can power through talking season, one that, like the weather, is off to a hot start.
Deep Fakes Strike College Football
One Twitter account is stirring the pot in the middle of the offseason. @CFBQuotes is a bad parody account that takes itself seriously. The maker of graphics intended to go viral, last week it produced a quote from Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal that was completely fabricated.
Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal was asked about the opener vs Auburn, & said that Auburn would be just another team in the PAC-12 and that they weren't worried about the matchup.
He also talked up his squad and claimed that his team was the fastest & strongest in the nation. pic.twitter.com/ZtgNAjDSY2
— College Football Quotes (@cfbquotes) June 30, 2019
After an immediate fiery response from each fanbase, the reporter refuted the quote and the Twitter account responded with some form of, “It was just a joke. Why is everyone so mad? haha”
After successfully stoking the fire, the account brought out the big guns by intervening in the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. The account shared a graphic of a “deleted Tweet” from Wolverines QB Shea Patterson that appeared to call out his head coach, Jim Harbaugh, and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. Upon first glance, it looks like Patterson intended for the Tweet to come from a burner account.
Did Michigan QB Shea Patterson mean to tweet this from his burner account? ?
Patterson referred to himself in 3rd person and threw shots at both Ohio State QB Justin Fields and Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh in a tweet response to a fan in a now-deleted tweet. pic.twitter.com/msdIba0Wix
— College Football Quotes (@cfbquotes) July 7, 2019
If you look closely, you can see signs of photoshopping in the Tweet near the underscore, as pointed out by Patterson, who avoided taking the typical “I was hacked” approach. Besides, if Patterson did accidentally Tweet the bulletin board material, surely another one of his 50,000 followers would have caught it.
College football fans go to great lengths to terrorize opposing fanbases. Some of it’s good natured rivalrying, while other times it’s downright cruel (see: Harvey Updyke). What makes this development strange is that it’s not one fanbase going after another. This account simply wants to get clicks, follows and create chaos during a slow part of the college football season. Some men just want watch the world burn.
(h/t Awful Announcing)
Official Visit Set
The last domino left from UK’s June football recruiting madness officially fell when Richie Leonard announced his commitment to Florida last Friday. Things will slow down as we near the season, but a few players will still trickle in before Stoops and Marrow host extravagant events on Kentucky football game days.
Ohio defensive back Rickey Hyatt Jr. told Rivals he has tentatively planned to officially visit Kentucky on the final weekend in July. A three-star safety from Benny Snell’s alma mater, Westerville Central, in the month of June the track star camped at nearby Ohio State and took an official visit to Michigan State. North Carolina and Cincinnati are also contenders. Pulling Hyatt away from Ohio State will be no small task.
Category: Ironic Urban Meyer Retirement Plans
Answer for $800: “What is a podcast on elite leadership, culture and behavior?”
The podcast is not satire. The Focus 3 podcast is a real thing that will debut this Wednesday. If there’s one person who needs to give lessons on how to create a culture where good behavior thrives, it’s the man who constructed the 2007 Florida Gators’ roster.
T.J. Carter: IT Expert
Kentucky’s 4 for 40 series is highlighting summer internships by the Wildcats. This one has got to be the most difficult to date. Dealing with IT issues at a bank? I can’t even get the KSR printer to work. Now we know who to call to get things back in order.
We caught up with senior defensive end @TjCarter_ who is interning at @centralbankKY. He is majoring in information communication technology with plans to one day be in the cyber security field. See how this summer internship is helping him accomplish his career goals.#4for40 pic.twitter.com/bZXDxVsZVs
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) July 8, 2019
I can almost see Hoover
Next week Hoover, Alabama is the center of the universe. The Wynfrey Hotel will be filled with Sunkist, Dr. Pepper, Belk mannequins, Paul Finebaum, the deep-voiced guy from Touchdown ALABAMA and dozens of sweaty fans screaming “ROLL TIDE!” Folks, that’s what I like to call paradise. Mark Stoops and the Wildcats will not be there till Thursday, but I’ll be there for every single second. As the great Bart Scott once said, “CAN’T WAIT!”
By Nick Roush on ©July 08th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
Before Jager Burton was a four-star prospect with a treasure trove of scholarship offers, the Lexington lineman was a Kentucky football camper.
In the summer of 2018, Jager (pronounced Jagger, as in Mick) had just finished his freshman year of high school football. He spent his day working out in front of UK coaches as a defensive lineman. It would be his last day on that side of the line of scrimmage.
Burton quickly caught UK offensive line coach John Schlarman’s eye. Once drills wound down, the former UK offensive guard pulled Burton aside and suggested a switch. Five months later, Kentucky became the first school to offer the talented hometown kid a scholarship.
Burton’s sensational sophomore season at offensive guard for Frederick Douglass High School did not go unnoticed. Now a four-star prospect by Rivals and the No. 6 offensive guard in the 2021 class, he has more than a dozen offers from the likes of Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State and Oregon. He’s acquired plenty of attention, but the rising junior has no plans to pick a school anytime soon.
“I honestly think about it, but I wouldn’t do it until before senior year at the earliest,” Burton told Larry Vaught during an appearance on the Leach Report. “I definitely don’t want to decommit. I don’t like how that looks I guess. Whenever I make a decision I want to be 100% sure that’s where I want to go and start getting other guys to go there.”
Things will begin to clear up this fall. As of now, players can only reach out to coaches, who cannot reciprocate until September 1. Once that stage of the recruitment begins, Burton will have a better idea of who is making him a priority.
Up until this point, UK’s campus is the only place Burton has visited more than once. Proximity certainly plays a factor. It also doesn’t hurt that he grew up cheering for the Cats, and surprisingly, Oregon. The extravagant uniforms caught Burton’s eye at an early age. They’ve also provided a cautionary tale on the recruiting trail. Luckily, one of his closest friends has already been through the recruiting process, future Clemson offensive tackle Walker Parks.
“I’ve heard people who committed to Oregon will commit there just for the uniforms,” Burton said. “He’s (Parks) helped me stay away from the hype stuff which is something me and him don’t really like. I mean, I really like it, but people get so absorbed taking pictures of the uniforms and posting them on Twitter and getting likes. He’s helped me stay away from that and keep doing the same stuff we were doing before it all happened.”
Burton attended a Clemson camp this summer with Parks and another one of their talented Douglass teammates, Dekel Crowdus. The incredibly fast 2021 wide receiver (4.34 40-yard dash, no big deal) has received just as much attention on the recruiting trail and the two have talked at length about playing together at the next level.
Much will happen between now and Burton’s decision day. As he sorts through all of the madness, only one thing is certain — he does not want to play for a loser. Luckily for Kentucky, things have changed quite a bit over the last seven years.
“Really what they’ve done, I think Kentucky will be able to change up their recruiting pitch a lot throughout the next three years as they keep improving and winning more games, it’s a lot easier to get players. I think that helped a lot with John Young, Andru Phillips, Jordan Watkins, Izayah, all those guys, Beau. I talk to those guys a lot.
“Being able to stay home and win games is really important. I don’t know about a lot of other people, but I hate losing, whatever it is. I don’t think I’d want to go somewhere and lose. Kentucky is not like that at all anymore. You have the opportunity to compete for pretty much everything you would to compete for in college football now, especially as the years progress. I think that’s really important and I think that is a big reason why they’ve gotten a ton more high-level recruits, four and five-stars, even Justin Rogers. I think that’s really cool to see being from here, still being a Kentucky fan. It’s cool to see the progression of the program from Joker to Stoops.”
Hear more from Burton’s discussion on the Leach Report below.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 06th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Bryce Mostella, a four-star defensive end out of Grand Rapids, MI in the class of 2020, announced his commitment to the 2019 Citrus Bowl runner-up Penn State Nittany Lions on Friday afternoon.
What relevance does this have to Kentucky football recruiting? Well, none really. Mostella did hold an offer from the Wildcats and UK’s go-to recruiting guru for Michigan recruits, Steven Clinkscale, was his primary recruiter, but Kentucky wasn’t seen as a serious candidate to land the talented pass-rusher.
The way he announced his school of choice, though, is what makes this important for the Big Blue Nation to see.
I promise it will blow your mind and/or freak you out. Likely both.
— Bryce Mostella (@BryceMostella) July 5, 2019
Between multiple conversations with himself in the dark, getting beaten up by himself, the paint, the dancing, and the five seconds of Mostella’s actual commitment, this thing is a true masterpiece.
Or a failure. I still haven’t decided.
After Kentucky snapped The Streak in The Swamp, a rivalry has developed on the recruiting front.
The Cats’ 2020 recruiting class started by investing in Florida. The first two commitments came in the trenches, offensive linemen Gerald Mincey and Richie Leonard. Once Dan Mullen caught wind of the move, he sprung into action.
Last night at 5:30, Mullen’s revenge came in the form of a commitment from Richie Leonard. Joining Mincey and defensive tackle Lamar Goods, all three of UK’s decommitments eventually flipped to Florida.
While Mullen was working on revenge, Kentucky acquired a verbal commitment from Samuel Anaele, a Top 100 recruit the tenth-ranked player in the Sunshine State. They also invested in another talented Florida recruit.
Saturday at 6:00, just 30 minutes after Leonard’s announcement, Morven Joseph reopened his recruitment.
— Mojo? (@MorvenJoseph) July 5, 2019
A three-star defensive lineman, Joseph committed to Florida in February. The No. 15 weak side defensive end in America according Rivals, Joseph unofficially visited UK in June. He also holds offers from Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and 20 other programs. Joseph most recently visited Tallahassee, but the Cats are still in play.
Was the timing of Joseph’s announcement just a coincidence, or was it a calculated move to knock the Gators down a few pegs? I’d like to think the latter.
For the third time in two months, a former UK commit has flipped to Florida.
Three-star offensive guard Richie Leonard announced he has committed to Florida over Kentucky, Florida State, Tennessee, Miami, Georgia Tech and UCF.
Leonard is the third former UK commit to flip to Florida, joining offensive lineman Gerald Mincey and defensive tackle Lamar Goods. They are the only three prospects who have decommitted from Kentucky.
Recruited by Darin Hinshaw, Leonard became one of the first commitments in the 2020 class last October. He remained firm in his commitment, visiting UK unofficially for the spring game, until Florida State and Florida got involved in late April. Even after officially visiting Lexington in June, it was not enough to convince the Cocoa, Fl. native to leave the Sunshine State.
Kentucky took down Dan Mullen at The Swamp last season, but this year he’s taken quite a few UK recruits.
Kentucky is a finalist for one of the best athletes in the Midwest.
Michael Drennen has narrowed his list of schools down to ten. Kentucky made the cut alongside Ohio State, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Notre Dame, Stanford and Arizona State.
— Mike Drennen II (@UhhMyNameDonut) July 4, 2019
You may be wondering why UK is still pursuing an all-purpose back. After all, the Cats already have four wide receiver and two running back commitments in the 2020 class. Mark Stoops will make room for Michael Drennen.
The No. 3 player in the state of Ohio is a consensus top five all-purpose back in America. A jack of all trades, the incredible athlete is the No. 158 player in America according to Rivals. He can excel out of the backfield or the slot and has the athleticism to contribute right away.
Shortly after releasing his top ten, Drennen told Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt he plans on officially visiting Kentucky this fall. The pitch UK coaches shared with him when he made unofficial trip to Lexington in June:
“It was just a good opportunity to chop it up with coaches and stay up on how much interest they have in me,” Drennen said. “They like me as a Lynn (Bowden). That’s their biggest pitch to me. They want to get me out in the open on screens, jet sweeps and stuff like that. That’s great. I have become very comfortable out in the open since my freshman year.”
Beau Allen, John Young and a handful of other commits have remained in close contact with Drennen throughout his recruitment. They’ll remain in his ear until he is finally ready to commit later in the recruiting calendar year.
Enjoy Drennen’s top plays from his third year at Dublin Coffman High School, Gunnar Hoak’s alma mater.
Late Monday night Samuel Anaele officially flipped his commitment from Miami to Kentucky. You are probably already well aware that he’s a talented edge rusher. Here are a few things you may not know about Anaele.
1. One of the Highest Ranked Commits Ever
Mark Stoops has picked up a few talented recruits over the years. Only two commitments have ever been ranked higher by Rivals than Anaele, the No. 5 defensive end and No. 96 player in America. Landon Young was No. 29 overall and one of Anaele’s future teammates on the defensive line, Justin Rogers, is ranked No. 12 overall.
If you prefer the 247 Sports rankings, Anaele is the tenth-ranked defensive end and No. 160 overall in the 2020 class. Even though he’s not ranked quite as high, in the 247 Sports all-time rankings he’s the eighth-highest ranked commitment since they began charting recruiting rankings in 2000.
2. Another One for Clinkscale
Vince Marrow’s developed quite a reputation as a recruiter, but he isn’t doing it all by himself. In 2017 Eddie Gran reeled in a handful of players from South Florida. More recently, Jon Sumrall has picked up a few commitments from the South. Meanwhile, Steve Clinkscale invested heavily into Michigan. That has paid dividends over the last two classes. Marquan McCall was the highest-ranked player in the state. He came to UK with DeAndre Square, who made the SEC’s All-Freshman team in 2018. Clink brought in the biggest fish to date with Justin Rogers’ commitment, then went South Florida to convince Anaele to commit to UK. The Cats have a pair of Top 100 players in the 2020 class thanks to Coach Clink.
3. New to Football
Anaele is one of the best football players in America and he’s only played the game for three years. Born in Nigeria, he began his athletic career with a roundball on the hardwood. His career trajectory mirrors Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald, a Nigerian-born Kentucky defensive lineman who first came to Florida as a basketball player. The two posed for a picture on Anaele’s most recent visit to Lexington.
4. He’s at The Opening Finals
Last week recruits flocked to Atlanta for Rivals Five-Star Challenge. This week’s invitation only national football camp is hosted by Nike at Jerry World in Dallas. He’s the only UK commitment in attendance, but one of Lexington’s finest, Frederick Douglass rising junior wide receiver Dekel Crowdus, is making plays.
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) July 1, 2019
5. A Low Profile Recruit
Even though he’s one of the top-ranked players in America, Anaele has stayed out of the public eye. Interviewed only once every few months, he’s not concerned with all the hoopla that surrounds the crazy industry. A wise man once said there’s a difference between somebody who likes being a football player vs. someone who likes to play football. Anaele is the latter, determined to put in the work to become a significant contributor at the next level.