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KSR’s Monday Night Football Notebook: Does anybody love anything more than Mike Edwards loves Skyline Chili?

KSR’s Monday Night Football Notebook: Does anybody love anything more than Mike Edwards loves Skyline Chili?

Congrats!  You survived a case of the Mondays, a perilous condition that can only be compared to fight with a polar vortex.

While you stock up on firewood and turn up the furnace, allow me to introduce a new Monday night feature: KSR’s Monday Night Football Notebook.  (Creative name, right?) Over the next few months, I’ll be holding down the fort on Monday nights, giving me the opportunity to dish on whatever football topics are on my mind.  With only one more football game remaining in the 2018-19 football season, I’ll do what I can to make sure this weekly bit satisfies your football cravings.

Nine days away from National Signing Day, the first MNF Notebook will feature a few recruiting nuggets and sprinkle in some Senior Bowl stuff.  Enjoy.

No Devonta Lee?

I was surprised to hear Devonta Lee was not in the Rupp Arena stands for Saturday night’s game against Kansas, especially after receiving a Friday afternoon text from Drew Franklin: “Just ran into Devonta Lee.”  It turns out Scoop Franklin ran into the wrong guy.

Lee did not make the long 11-hour drive from Louisiana to Lexington because it’s an 11-hour drive from Louisiana to Lexington and he was too busy dunking on dudes.

His absence does not mean the Cats are out of the hunt, but it would have been nice to get Lee on campus one more time before National Signing Day. Ultimately, much of Lee’s decision will weigh on his official visit to LSU this weekend.

Cornerbacks Trending Toward UK

Lee did not make the trip, but two four-star cornerbacks did.  Kentucky was a little late to the MJ Devonshire party, but they’re in a great spot for the four-star prospect from Aliquippa, Pa.  Mark Stoops is expected to follow up with an in-home visit this week to convince Devonshire to commit to UK over Pitt and Neal Brown’s West Virginia Mountaineers.

If you can read between the lines, Jay Ward’s decision to ditch a visit to Florida State to officially visit UK is fantastic news.  But wait, THERE’S MORE!  Steve Wiltfong logged a Crystal Ball pick for Ward to UK.  The 247 Sports guy rarely misses.  I don’t have a Crystal Ball, but if I did, I would see Ward and Devonshire in Kentucky blue.

BIG Deal

Kentucky football’s Junior Day is an annual reminder that I’m getting old.  Most of the visitors this weekend were from the 2020 class, which means they were born after 9/11.  Yikes.

I digress.  As usual, the guest list was too long for one post (although Jack Pilgrim did a pretty good job compiling the best of the best).  One guest stands out above the rest, Justin Rogers. For those who are reading that name for the first time, allow me to explain his significance.

When Michigan natives DeAndre Square and Marquan McCall were being recruited to Kentucky, Steve Clinkscale and Vince Marrow included Rogers.  When the two Wildcats received their initial offers, so did Rogers, even though he was two years younger.  This year you saw the two Michigan men make plays as true freshman; Square was even named All-SEC Freshman.  Well, Rogers is a class ahead of the two.  That’s not a knock on Square and McCall.  It’s a compliment to Rogers.

A former teammate of McCall’s at Oak Park High School in Detroit, Rogers is one of the 20 best high school football players in America, regardless of class.  Like McCall, he started on the offensive line.  Now when he attends All-American camps, he takes turns busting through blockers as a defensive lineman.

Kentucky has never recruited a player as dominant as Rogers.  When UK initially offered, it was a nice gesture, but I questioned its significance.  “Of course they offered him, everybody will.”  Since the Cats were the first to offer, they have not lost momentum.  Rogers has returned to campus for multiple visits, including this past Saturday.  It’s a long shot that UK lands Rogers and his commitment is a long way away, but if Marrow was able to convince one Michigan offensive lineman to come to UK to play defense, he can do it again.

This weekend Rogers posed for a pic with his former teammate, McCall (right),  The guy with him in the left picture, Enzo Jennings, is pretty great too.  See for yourself.

Skyline Mike

The first MNF Notebook’s namesake is dedicate to the Kentucky Badger.  Mike Edwards’ love for Skyline Chili is well-known, but I don’t think anyone knew just how crazy he is for the concoction.  In a piece for the Bengals’ website, Rock Oliver explained the Cincinnati native’s obsession.

“He loves Skyline,” Oliver confirmed the other day. “Went there every day for like the first month. Even when it was being built he would stop by to check on the construction. I told him, ‘Mike, I like Skyline as much as the next guy, but I don’t make sure the guy is hammering in the nails.’”

Mike may want to keep that under wraps.  Some NFL scouts might see “obsessed with Skyline” as a red flag in the evaluation process.


Visitors for Kentucky Football’s 2019 Junior Day

Before Kentucky football recruiting completely turns the page to the 2020 class, the Cats are entertaining a few talented 2019 prospects on a day typically devoted to underclassmen, UK Junior Day.

Two visitors are big surprises: four-star wide receiver Devonta Lee and four-star cornerback Jay Ward.  The latter initially planned to visit Florida State this weekend, but Chad Simmons reports that Ward canceled that trip to officially visit UK a week earlier.  The Cats could lock up a commitment with Ward this weekend.

They aren’t the only four-star 2019 recruits that could commit to UK before Signing Day.  MJ Devonshire, another four-star defensive back, will officially visit UK this weekend.  A top 30 cornerback from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, UK has made an impressive late move to enter the picture.  Pitt, West Virginia, Ole Miss and Ohio State are also in contention for Devonshire’s services.

Two 2019 offensive linemen are also expected to be on campus.  Cincinnati and Indiana were heavily recruiting Dayton Dunbar’s Jonathan Allen when Vince Marrow entered the picture.  Renato Brown recently committed to Louisville, but Kentucky is not backing down from Brown.

In the 2020 class, Kentucky is hosting some of the most talented players in America.

Brad White is bringing a dynamic duo from Maryland to Lexington.  Curtis Jacobs, a four-star wide receiver, will be at UK along with Blake Corum, a top 20 running back in the 2020 class.  Cesar Reyes is another four-star recruit that will be in the mix this weekend.  The offensive tackle from Tampa is considered the No. 199 player overall in the 2020 class.

Jake Pope is the latest recruit from perennial powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas to sign with UK.  He could soon be joined by three-star slot receiver Xavier Restrepo.  Another Ft. Lauderdale prospect is also expected to make the trip, offensive tackle Gerald Mincey.  From other parts of the south, offensive guard Ta’Chawn Brooks and defensive back Tyrik McDaniel will be representing South Carolina.  There will also be quite a large contingency from Tennessee.  Blake Hundley, Jason Eaton and Derrell Bailey Jr. will earn their keep in the trenches.

This is just a small sample of who will be visit UK this weekend.  It’s the Cats’ first step to reaping the recruiting rewards from a successful ten-win campaign.


Kentucky Football’s Final 2019 Recruiting Targets

After a slight break in the action, Kentucky football recruiting is picking up speed.

Kentucky will host dozens of underclassmen for the annual Junior Day when the basketball team hosts Kansas this Saturday.  As the focus shifts toward the 2020 class, Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and Co. are in the process of completing the 2019 class on National Signing Day.

The Early Signing Period has removed some of the sheen from the first Wednesday in February.  Last year there were really only two prospects, Chris Oats and Xavier Peters, to watch over the final five weeks of the UK recruiting season.  After signing 21 players in December, Kentucky does not have too many vacancies left to fill.

Kentucky Football Class of 2019

NamePositionHometownHeightWeight247 Sports
MJ DevonshireCBAliquippa, PA5-111704-star, ..8816
Jared CaseyLBLouisville, KY6-32354-star, .8958
JJ WeaverOLBLouisville, KY6-62404-star, .8937
Moses DouglassSSpringfield, OH6-22004-star, .8906
Javonte RichardsonWR (JUCO)Maple Heights, OH6-42103-star, .8838
Shawnkel Knight-GoffOLB/ATHLouisville, KY6-42153-star, .8788
KD McDanielOLB/DETifton, GA6-32503-star, .8763
Travis TisdaleRBVoldosta, GA5-81653-star, .8762
Taj DodsonCBFairburn, GA6-21803-star, .8739
Isaiah GibsonDT Springfield, OH 6-43003-star, .8722
Demontae "TaeTae" CrumesWRLouisville, KY6-11653-star, .8688
Marquez BembryOLBAtlanta, GA6-32253-star, .8669
Nik Ognenovic TEFt. Lauderdale, FL6-5`2353-star, .8668
Cavon ButlerDTToledo, OH6-32903-star, .8626
Brandin EcholsCB (JUCO)Southaven, MS6-01803-star, .8602
Tra WilkinsILBStone Mountain, GA6-22103-star, .8506
Jalen GeigerCBColumbia, SC6-01853-star, .8480
Nik ScalzoQBFt. Lauderdale, FL5-111853-star, .8475
Amani GilmoreQBAmite, LA6-21753-star, .8431
DeMarcus HarrisWRVero Beach, FL6-21703-star, .8398
Jake PopeOTFt. Lauderdale, FL6-72753-star, .8385
Eli CoxOGNicholasville, KY6-42953-star, .8323
Eli JamesDT (JUCO)Oswego, IL6-43003-star, .8217
Quandre MoselyCBBrunswick, GA6-11953-star, .89

 

Kentucky can sign up to 25 players in the 2019 class.  Two JUCO recruits, wide receiver JaVonte Richardson and defensive tackle Elijah James, committed to UK in December but did not sign.  I cannot get confirmation, but it’s safe to assume they are out of the picture.  Moving forward, Kentucky has prioritized defensive backs and wide receivers.  An “under the radar” prospect could commit just before February 6, but first, let’s turn our attention to the big dogs with big UK targets on their backs.

Jay Ward 
Cornerback | 6-1 | 175 lbs.
Moultrie, GA | Colquitt County
Highlights
ESPN N/A Top247 No. 267 | 30 CB
Rivals 55 CB | 46 GA 247 Comp.  No. 503 | 52 CB

The four-star cornerback initially committed to Kentucky in June.  Following a visit to LSU he re-opened his recruitment in November.  Kentucky has remained in touch throughout the ups and downs and it could pay dividends on National Signing Day.  The Cats have one more chance to convince Ward to pick UK over LSU when the Georgia native takes an official visit to Lexington on the final weekend before NSD.

Jammie Robinson  
Cornerback | 5-11 | 200 lbs.
Leesburg, GA | Lee County
Highlights
ESPN 42 ATH | 55 GA Top247 No. 453 | 36 S
Rivals 24 S | 28 GA 247 Comp.  No. 379 | 30 S

This four-star corner created headlines when he wore UK gloves in his state championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  There was plenty of UK buzz around Robinson following his official visit, but that has shifted toward Auburn and Tennessee after visits to each respective school.  Along with South Carolina, Robinson will choose between the four SEC schools on February 6.

Devonta Lee 
Wide Receiver | 6-2 | 215 lbs.
Amite, LA | Amite
Highlights
ESPN No. 242 | 34 WR Top247 No. 177 | 7 ATH
Rivals No. 126 | 12 ATH 247 Comp.  No. 163 | 6 ATH

The most recognizable name remaining on UK’s recruiting big board, not much has come from the Top 200 player’s camp since he participated in the Under Armour All-American Game.

Lee officially visited UK with his high school quarterback, Amani Gilmore, in December.  The visit transformed UK from long shot to possibility.  Kentucky’s early playing time pitch was powerful.  Meanwhile, LSU remains the perceived leader.  Being an in-state hero is an appealing pitch, but there’s grumblings that the Tigers want him to play defense instead of offense.

Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama are in the mix, but UK is in a position where anything is possible.  Ultimately, Lee’s decision will weigh heavily on his official visit to LSU.  If the Cats can lock up Lee, it would be the biggest recruiting win over SEC foes in a long time.

Marlin “MJ” Devonshire
Cornerback | 5-11 | 170 lbs.
Aliquippa, PA | Aliquippa
Highlights
ESPN 72 ATH | 12 KY Top247 63 CB | 14 PA
Rivals 32 CB | 6 PA 247 Comp.  50 CB | 9 PA

A target that recently entered the mix, UK extended a scholarship offer to Devonshire on January 18.  The son of a coach is a four-star recruit according to Rivals.  Pitt, West Virginia, Ole Miss and Ohio State are Kentucky’s top competition.  He’s expected to officially visit UK prior to National Signing Day.

Jonathan Allen
Offensive Tackle | 6-6 | 315 lbs.
Dayton, OH | Dunbar
Highlights
ESPN 93 OT | 36 OH Top247 89 OT | 49 OH
Rivals  –| 41 OH 247 Comp. 60 OT | 38 OH

Unlike the Alabama Jonathan Allen, this Dayton, Ohio native is a pass protector, not a pass rusher.  Another prospect that Kentucky began pursuing late in the game, Cincinnati’s early interest in Allen makes the Bearcats the leader.  Ohio State, Penn State and Indiana are also involved.  Marrow must convince Allen to make a visit prior to NSD to have a chance to secure a commitment.

Transfers

No matter how many players sign with UK in February, there’s still a good chance Kentucky pulls a few players from the transfer portal at the end of the spring academic semester.  Finding top wide receiver prospects at this point of recruiting season is difficult, but there are a few viable options on the transfer market.

La’Michael Pettway will be eligible to play as a grad transfer immediately this fall.  Recruited by UK wide receivers coach Michael Smith at Arkansas, Pettway led the Razorbacks in receiving yards in 2018.  Juwan Johnson was on the same field as Kentucky this season.  After catching a couple of passes in the Citrus Bowl, Penn State’s No. 3 wide receiver announced his intentions to transfer.  The 6’4″ wide out has one season of eligibility remaining and can play right away.

Kentucky has plenty of options to fill its 2019 roster.  That picture will become much clearer over the next two weeks.


Kentucky Football is Heavily Investing in Georgia

If Georgia fans were sour after Eddie Gran’s denial, wait until they see how many prospects the Cats are poaching from the Peach State.

In December Kentucky signed six Georgia natives, more than any other state in UK’s 2019 recruiting class.  It’s the most players UK has signed from Georgia since Rich Brooks made it his primary recruiting ground in the mid-2000s.  The rationale for the decision was simple.

“Georgia is the number one state that produces college football players right now, and I think even pros,” Vince Marrow said on December’s signing day.  Marrow’s work in Georgia is not finished.   

One of Kentucky’s top remaining recruiting targets in 2019 is Jammie Robinson.  A four-star cornerback from Leesburg, Georgia, he wore UK gloves as he led his team to a state championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.  Robinson officially visited Lexington in December.  South Carolina, Auburn and Tennessee are Kentucky’s top competition.

While assistant coaches check in on Robinson, they’re fostering relationships with underclassmen around the state.  Unlike some schools where one coach has one specific territory, Kentucky is sending multiple coaches all over the state of Georgia.  This afternoon Matt House was in the southeast corner of the state.  On Monday Derrick LeBlanc was on the west side of the state.  Steve Clinkscale, Brad White and Marrow all played a part in signing the first six players of the 2019 recruiting class.

Mark Stoops earned notoriety at Kentucky for recruiting in Ohio.  After establishing back-to-back classes in Florida, Kentucky is expanding into Georgia and will not be slowing down anytime soon.


24/7 Sports

Kentucky offers three-star linebacker from Tennessee

24/7 Sports

While day two of the divisional round of the NFL playoffs started, the Kentucky football coaching staff extended an offer to three-star linebacker Devyn Curtis.

Curtis is 6’2 and is rated at the 25th best ILB in the nation and the 23rd best player in the state of Tennessee for the Class of 2020.

The Brentwood Academy defensive stud currently holds offers from both Vanderbilt and South Carolina as well as other Group of Five programs.

Curtis was in attendance in November for the Georgia game and mentioned how much he enjoyed the atmosphere of the game.

You can watch the linebacker work at the link below:

If the video doesn’t load, you can find it by clicking here.

Could we possibly be calling his name soon enough as a replacement for Kash Daniel? Come on down!


4-Star Enzo Jennings lists Kentucky in Top-11

4-Star Enzo Jennings lists Kentucky in Top-11

Enzo Jennings has made his first round of cuts – and Kentucky made the list. Of course, the 2020 4-star prospect left 11 schools on his radar, but it’s still positive news for the Cats.

The Michigan native is listed as a 6-foot-2, 178-pound cornerback. He comes in just inside the top-100 players in the class nationally (No. 93) and ranks as the No. 11 “athlete” in the class. According to Jennings’ 247Sports profile, the top-four contenders for his commitment are Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and Notre Dame, and he is being recruited by Steve Clinkscale, the Cats’ defensive backs coach.

To make it even more interesting, Jennings is also teammates with 5-star offensive guard Justin Rogers. His commitment, as of now, seems to be between Georgia and Ohio State, but Kentucky is still listed as a ‘warm” school on 247Sports (along with LSU, Michigan and Tennessee). And it looks like he still needs some help deciding:

Kentucky has several young guys coming through the pipelines for both of these positions, but they are losing key seniors, so it never hurts to pick up a few more highly-touted recruits. At the cornerback position, UK will lose Derrick Baity and Lonnie Johnson; at offensive guard, they’ll lose an All-American in Bunchy Stallings.

We’re still a long way away from getting ink-to-paper for these guys, and I know there are people out there who get worn out with football commits, especially in the age of the dreaded de-commitment. But these are two talented, out-of-state ball players from up north, and it means something they’re both still interested in Kentucky. A few seasons ago, we wouldn’t have been able to say that.


@MaggieDavisKSR


Boyle County’s Reese Smith picks up an offer from West Virginia

via @reesesmith_

The Cats have some more competition. Reese Smith, a three-star 2020 prospect from Boyle County, just picked up an offer from West Virginia. Kentucky offered Smith back in October, after Tennessee extended an offer in mid-September.

Smith announced the offer on his Twitter account:

The offer comes just days after Neal Brown accepted the WVU head coaching job. Remember, Brown also played football at Boyle County High School. Smith was formerly listed as a wide receiver, but is now listed as an “athlete.” As of now, Kentucky is recruiting him as a safety, while other schools, including Duke, are recruiting him as a slot receiver.

Last season, Smith finished with 53 receptions for 1,173 yards and 20 touchdowns. At safety, he had three interceptions in 2018, returning one for a 99 yard touchdown.

Sure, Neal Brown seems like a nice guy and they share that Boyle County bond. But the Cats just went 10-3, and the BBN does tend to love a Kentucky boy a little extra… Just ask Kash Daniel.


@MaggieDavisKSR