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University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.

2016 National Signing Day LIVE Diary: Part I


After months of relentless recruiting, the anticipation is coming to a conclusion from a fax machine this morning on National Signing Day.  While you watch all of the action happen live on, keep it locked on KSR for NSD in the most ridiculous manner possible.

Nick (9:16):  The Cats could still add another defensive lineman to finish off today’s class.  One is Jaquwan Nelson, a South Florida pass rusher that has previously committed to Miami, with Syracuse also on his radar.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 9.13.44 AM

Others to keep an eye out for: Miss. DE Ka’Derrion Mason and JUCO DT J.J. Holmes.

Tyler (8:59): Jamar “Boogie” Watson is in!

Jamar “Boogie” Watson




Position: Linebacker

Height/Weight: 6’3/225

Hometown (High School): Forrestville, Md. (Bishop McNamara)

Twitter: @JamarW01

Recruited by: Andy Buh

Chose UK over: Boston College, Rutgers, and Virginia





Notable accomplishments: Ranked as a Top 100 outside linebacker by Scout, despite not playing football until his Junior year of high school.  The two-sport star came on the recruiting scene after a great first year of football, where he finished with 74 tackles and a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown.  As a Senior, he helped lead the Mustangs to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoff berth for the first time in five years with 59 tackles, including five sacks and two interceptions, one he returned 68 yards for a touchdown

Projected impact: Without much organized football experience, a redshirt is likely.

Film Takeaways:

-Extremely raw

-Quick twitch, burst athlete

-Best when playing in space

-Translates athleticism in basketball to football

Stoops Says: “He’s another great athlete who was a basketball player most of his career but had a great impact on the football field the last two years. He has the athleticism and explosiveness we are looking for at outside linebacker.”

Summary:  Watson certainly has the athleticism to play at an elite level, but time will tell if he can adjust.  Not only will the 1,000-point scorer receive a physical wake-up when he arrives to the SEC, learning the fundamentals and how to mentally approach the game will be a challenge.

Nick (8:56)-  To add to what Mrs. T said, Old Row Sports puts it into perspective with this fake headline from yesterday.


Tyler (8:51): Now seems like a good time to post this brilliant flowchart from @BellyoftheBeast:

Moral of the story: Don’t tweet at recruits!

Nick (8:49): Who’s left?  Stoops’ staff is JUCO LB Jordan Bonner, DT Ja’Quize Cross, JUCO WR Kayaune Ross, LB Jamar “Boogie”Watson and DT Kordell Looney.  If there’s any player to worry about, it’s Looney, who was courted by many schools heading down the stretch, including Louisville.

Tyler (8:40): Stoops on Drake Jackson…

“We can’t forget about him because he really may have had the biggest impact on this class. We targeted him early. He’s one of the most skilled offensive linemen coming out of high school,” Stoops said.

“Drake is a special guy and a really good player. He’s a catalyst for this team. He bought in right away. You can see leadership all over him. He’s a guy that just is a leader, and again, playing center, you want a leader there as well. He’s extremely smart, great technician, impact player. He committed right away, and again, he had a lot to do with pulling this class together and keeping them together. You can see great leadership skills in him right now in this class and on our campus because he’s been here a few weeks. Our players have been extremely impressed with him.”

“He wants to maul you,” Stoops said. “He’s an impact guy.”

Nick (8:36)-  Take a look at your five instate enrollees, the most since ’09.  I don’t remember those guys, but I can assure you these five are even better.



Nick (8:32)-  Cincinnati Colerain preferred walk-on Zach Johnson has signed his paperwork.

Nick (8:27): McCracken County product Zy’Aire Hughes is in. Only 5 to go…

Zy’Aire Hughes



Position: Athlete

Height/Weight: 6’1/190

Hometown (High School): Paducah, Ky. (McCracken County)

Twitter: @zyairehughes11

Recruited by: John Schlarman

Chose UK over: Louisville, Purdue & WKU


Notable accomplishments: A type of athlete you rarely see in modern football, Hughes concluded his prep career with an outstanding 4,914 passing yards with 46 touchdowns, 2,779 rushing yards with 53 touchdowns and 1,128 receiving yards on 89 receptions for another 10 scores.  During his Junior season, he was a Top 15 Passer and a Top 10 Receiver in the state of Kentucky.  Moving to primarily running back his Senior season, he rushed for 1,170 yards.  Unbelievable is the only way to describe it.

Projected impact:  Biggest question mark because we are unsure of which position he will play at UK.  What is less questionable — he’ll likely redshirt as they sort it out.

Film Takeaways:

-Played multiple positions: QB, WR, DB, K/P Returner

-Quick stop/start

-4.42 40

Stoops Says: “Zy’Aire is another great in-state addition for us. He is an explosive wide receiver with a great ability to change direction and make big plays. He will have a bright future in our program.”

Summary: A crucial in-state pickup for Mark Stoops, Hughes did it all at McCracken County. He will have to settle in on position, but his versatility could be advantageous on special teams. After playing wide receiver, running back and quarterback in high school, he has options, but based on Stoops’ comments, he’ll likely play wide receiver.

Tyler (8:22): Luke Fortner is in!

Luke Fortner




Position: Offensive Tackle

Height/Weight: 6’5/305

Hometown (High School): Sylvania, Oh. (Sylvania Northview)

Twitter: @LukeNV77

Recruited by: Vince Marrow

Chose UK over: Cincinnati and Maryland.




Projected impact:  As has been protocol for most of Stoops’ offensive linemen, Fortner will likely redshirt.

Film Takeaways:

-Played OT and Center, Defensive End and Tackle

-Fundamental arm extension in pass block

-Drive block strength, Nasty at point of contact

-Violent initial punch from stance

-Understands chipping to next level

-Uses defender leverage to finish block

Stoops Says: “Luke has great size. He has the ability to play three positions on the offensive line and he gives us the physical presence we are looking for up front. We are looking forward to developing Luke.”

Summary:  This signee is a pleasant surprise.  The versatile offensive lineman can progress as a multi-positional player.  To put Fortner’s playing perspective, Freddie compares him to the almighty Jon Toth. 

Tyler (8:20): Good morning, friends. I’m awake, promise. It was a late night, but knowing the coaches had an even later one, I’m not complaining.

Early impressions:

  • UK’s Signing Day Show is insanely impressive
  • HUGE that UK was able to keep Jordan Griffin. According to Stoops, SEC schools were calling him at 7 a.m. this morning, but his was the first NLI in
  • I’m about to go on the warpath with Tennessee fans on Twitter
  • First I need more tea
  • Nick’s killing coverage so far
  • Oh yeah, more tea

Nick (8:20)-   There’s more rolling in:

Grant McKinniss



Position: Punter/Kicker

Height/Weight: 6’1/210

Hometown (High School): Findlay, Oh. (Findlay)

Twitter: @GMckinniss

Recruited by: Vince Marrow

Chose UK over: An early commit, UK was his only offer.




Notable accomplishments: A 4-star prospect by Scout, McKinniss converted 38 of 40 PAT kicks and 10 of 11 field goals, including a season-long 52-yarder as a Senior. Averaged 39.4 yards on punts and put 11 of 32 kicks inside the 20-yard line.

Projected impact: Expected to immediately assume punting duties vacated by Landon Foster, but can also provide emergency KO/PAT/FG duties.

Film Takeaways:

-Kicked and punted

-Strong leg, quick catch to punt

-Propensity to pin (inside 10)

-Provide instant KO emergency duties

Stoops Says: “Grant has an extremely strong leg and is versatile because he can kick off as well. We look forward to him stepping in and competing for the starting job this year.”

Summary: It must be stressed how important it is that the punter can also placekick.  McKinniss can provide depth, immediately starting at punter, and be an emergency replacement for MacGinnis, which frees up travel roster position.  After suffering a midseason injury, we learned that it’s critical to have a quality kicker on standby.

Nick (8:18)-  Rose and Griffin were a couple of guys the staff was working on until the last minute to keep.  Stoops told Matt that he was on the phone with Griffin this morning at 7:05 and other SEC coaches were still trying to get Griffin to change his mind.  They didn’t stop when Stoops had the fax in his hand.

Nick (8:15)- I can hardly keep up there’s so many early ones.

Asim “A.J.” Rose

Screen Shot 2016-02-01 at 11.09.25 AM



Position: Running Back/ATH

Height/Weight: 6’1/200

Hometown (High School): Cleveland, Ohio (Garfield Heights)

Twitter: @Asim_Rose

Recruited by: Vince Marrow

Chose UK over: Indiana, Purdue, Minnesota, Cincinnati and Toledo





Notable accomplishments: EAGLE SCOUT.  Stepped in for an injured teammate at quarterback and passed for 616 yards and 10 touchdowns, while running 94 times for 770 yards and 12 scores.

Projected impact: Skilled to play now, but depends on the position he’ll play.

Film Takeaways:

-Multiple position player

-Excellent field vision

-Long strider with break-away speed

-Fluid hips, can quickly change direction

-Refuses to be tackled by 1st defender

-Tall, yet compact football player

Stoops Says: “A.J. is another big-time athlete with the ability to play many positions. He will compete for major playing time at running back this season because he has great size and breakaway ability.”

Summary: Top 2 Athlete in the Class. Played dual-threat quarterback and running back for Garfield Heights. Most, if not all offensive plays were ran through Rose. He has excellent hips and a quick change of direction. His strength lies in field vision and cut back ability. It will be interesting to see which position Rose plays at UK.

Justin Rigg

East Ky Media

East Ky Media


Position: Tight End

Height/Weight: 6’6/245

Hometown (High School): Springboro, Oh. (Springboro)

Twitter: @Justinrigg1

Recruited by: Vince Marrow

Chose UK over: Pitt and West Virginia



Notable accomplishments:  Led team to 11-3 record and is a basketball star.

Projected impact:  Redshirt is likely as a freshman.

Film Takeaways:

-Frame to possible move to OT

-Played both H Back and on-line TE

-Hand catches, properly uses leverage to finish routes.

-Strong on-line of scrimmage blocker

Stoops Says: “We are very excited about Justin. He has the size we are looking for in a tight end. He has the upside to be a physical presence on the line of scrimmage and he also has the ability to stretch the field.”

Summary:  Extremely well-coached by Ryan Wilhite, Rigg has continued to improve throughout his career.  With a body type that can fill into an offensive tackle, it will be interesting to see how he develops through his career at Kentucky.

Benny Snell

NSD Snell



Position: Running Back

Height/Weight: 5’11/220

Hometown (High School): Westerville, Ohio (Westerville Central)

Twitter: @benny_snell

Recruited by: Vince Marrow

Chose UK over: Boston College, Cincinnati and Iowa.







Notable accomplishments: It is not a short list.  Snell was the The Columbus Dispatch Offensive Player of the Year. Helped lead Westerville Central to two Ohio Capital Conference titles, three straight Division I playoff appearances and an overall 35-6 record during his prep career.  Totaled 1,826 rushing yards, 264 yards receiving and 29 touchdowns as a senior.  One of his most impressive individual performances: Snell ran for 241 yards on 20 carries with three touchdowns in a single game.  Named OCC Cardinal Division Player of the Year and AP All-Central District Offensive Player of the Year.  Two-time first-team All-Central District and Division I All-Ohio.

Projected impact:  Snell certainly has the ability to play now – he would add a power RB element to Gran’s offense – but depth at his position could lead to a redshirt season.

Film Takeaways:

-4.4 forty

-Powerfully built RB

-Played in spread offense

-Between the tackles running back with break-away speed

-Effective in passing game

-Forceful blocker

Stoops Says: “Benny is hard-nosed downhill runner. Being the Ohio Division I player of the year says a lot about his abilities. He can get the tough yards when we need them and he will compete for playing time as well.”

Summary:  If you couldn’t tell by his long list of accomplishments, Snell was the cornerstone of the offense during his prep career at Westerville Central.  Well-coached by John Magistro, Snell is a workhorse that can take hits in the middle of the defense without being slowed down.  He will be a between-the-tackles running back for Kentucky, but with tons of depth at running back, we might not see it until the 2017 season.

Jaylin Bannerman


Position: Linebacker

Height/Weight: 6’5/220

Hometown (High School): Pickerington, Oh., Md. (Pickerington Central)

Twitter: @TheRealyJaylin11

Recruited by: Vince Marrow

Chose UK over: Pitt, Illinois, Toledo and Michigan State



Notable accomplishments: Ranked as a Top 50 weak side defensive end upon his commitment, Bannerman was a star on the football and basketball teams at Pickerington Central.

Projected impact: An excellent pass rusher, Bannerman could play right away if he adds enough muscle upon arrival to campus.

Film Takeaways:

-Long, rangy defender

-Preferred DE arm length and height

-Quick start from stance

-Operative initial punch to separate from blockers

-Physical on line of scrimmage, intelligent rush angles to quarterback

-Can drop in coverage, play in space

-Plays with a nasty streak

-Navigates line of scrimmage to find ball carrier

Stoops Says: “Jaylin is a dynamic athlete who has great size and length.  He was a multi-sport athlete in high school who has the ability to develop as a standup edge player.”

Summary:  Bannerman needs to add good weight in a hurry when he arrives to campus in June.  The Cats need pass rushing threats, but Bannerman doesn’t yet have the bulk to take a consistent beating on the defensive line.  His first month on campus will likely determine if he plays or redshirts his first season.

Nick (8:11)- There’s a lot more to come:

Roland Walder




Position: Linebacker

Height/Weight: 6’3/215

Hometown (High School): Trotwood, Oh. (Trotwood-Madison)

Twitter: @Roland_9x

Recruited by: Vince Marrow

Chose UK over: Nebraska, Pitt, IU and Cincinnati.




Notable accomplishments: Named Southwest Ohio Division III Defensive Player of the Year.  Walter was a first-team All-State selection after an impressive Senior season that featured 62 tackles and seven sacks.

Projected impact: Walder has the ability and potential to compete at OLB and Special Teams if he can add good weight/muscle over the Summer.

Film Takeaways:

-4.53 40

-Under-rated prospect

-Instinctive and physical pass rusher/run stopper

Stoops Says: “Roland is an athletic linebacker with the versatility we like. He can play inside or outside linebacker and he is very explosive with great instincts.”

Summary: An all-around athlete, the linebacker also played wide receiver at Trotwood-Madison, an elite D-III Ohio program led by Jeff Graham.  Graham’s been around the block; a wide receiver for Ohio State, he was named team MVP in 1990 before playing 11 seasons in the NFL.  In a uber-talented region of the state, UK is lucky Walder slipped beneath the cracks.  Given time, Walder can develop into a special player in UK’s 3-4 defense.

T.J. Carter


Position: Strong-side defensive end

Height/Weight: 6’4/245

Hometown (High School): Mableton, Ga. (Whitfield Academy)

Twitter: @Tjcarter_

Recruited by: Derrick Ansley

Chose UK over: Memphis and Wyoming.


Notable accomplishments:  A Georgia 1st Team All-6A selection, Carter was given a 77-ranking by ESPN not long after committing to UK, the 11th-highest in the 25-man class.  Carter totaled 68 tackles, including 10 for loss as a senior.  Also charted six sacks and 18 quarterback hurries.

Projected impact: It’s possible that he could see playing time as a freshman, but a redshirt is more likely.

Film Takeaways:

-Long armed pass rusher

-Ability to chase down ball carrier (4.7-40)

-Athletic yet raw athlete

-High energy

-Physical, explosive from stance to engagement

Stoops Says: “T.J. is an explosive athlete who we watched on tape and loved the way he made plays. He is an aggressive player that has a tremendous upside.”

Summary:  Virtually unknown at the time of his commitment, Mark Stoops’ late pick-up  is Freddie Maggard’s Steal of the Class.  A “high energy, high impact late acquisition at a position of need” is how one would have described Chris Westry on NSD in 2015.

Jordan Griffin





Position: Defensive Back

Height/Weight: 6’/175

Hometown (High School): Jonesboro, Ga. (Jonesboro)

Twitter: @WhyNot_JG

Recruited by: Derrick Ansley & D.J. Eliot

Chose UK over: Auburn, Clemson and Stanford







Notable accomplishments: A four-star prospect by Rivals, which rates him as the 15th best cornerback in the nation and the 16th best prospect in talent-laden Georgia.  Nationally, Rivals lists him as the 191st best player. Rated as the 77th best player in the nation by ESPN, which also tabs him as the 23rd corner in the nation and the 34th best player in Georgia.

Projected impact:  Giffin has the athleticism and skill to play in the SEC immediately at multiple positions.

Film Takeaways:

-Complete Football Player

-Brings automatic upgrade to roster athleticism

-Legitimate skill to play WR or DB in SEC

-Tall, rangy CB comfortable in press man or zone

-Ability to press cover

-Fluid hips, rapid break on action

-Big play athlete

Stoops Says: “Jordan is prototypical cornerback. He has the size, instincts, speed and technique we are looking for in a player. He’s a gifted athlete, a great person and we are excited about his future at Kentucky.”

Summary:  When we say coaches sweat it out until they receive the fax, rest assured that was the case with Griffin.  Griffin is the highest-rated out of state recruit.  After receiving plenty of late attention from Auburn, Griffin reaffirmed his commitment to UK after taking an official visit to Auburn two weeks ago.  Griffin’s presence will be felt immediately as one of the handful of players that could be inserted into the lineup right away.

Nick (8:09)- Here we go:

Landon Young





Position: Offensive Tackle

Height/Weight: 6’7/305

Hometown (High School): Lexington, Ky. (Lafayette)

Twitter: @Landon_Young_67

Recruited by: John Schlarman

Chose UK over: Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, and Auburn.



Notable accomplishments:  One of the highest-ranked recruits in the history of Kentucky football, 247 and Rivals rated him a 5-star. Committed to UK as a high school sophomore, Young was a US Army All-American, 1st team All State, and led his team to a 13-3 record and the Class 6A state championship game. Young was rated as the #1 OT in Kentucky and 4th in the nation; ranked 29th in Rivals 100, 12th by 247 Sports.  Young is UK’s 1st Rivals Top 100 signee since Micah Johnson.  More than just a football star, Young has won the state discus championship, runner-up shot-put and a  state heavyweight wrestling champion. He’s also an officer in Lafayette’s Future Farmers of America chapter, a member of the Beta Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Projected impact:  It’d be a surprise if he is not a day one starter.

Film Takeaways:

-Elite measurables

-Mobile OT, heavy handed initial punch

– Elite pass protector

– Plays with a mean streak

– Mobile, can be lethal when pulling

Stoops Says: “What can you say about Landon Young except when you look up ‘left tackle’ in the dictionary there is a picture of him. He has unbelievable athleticism and agility for such a big man. He is your prototypical left tackle that every program would love to build their offensive line around. We are excited to have him on our team.”

Summary:  The best offensive tackle Freddie has evaluated in four years, Young is SEC-ready.  He put pass rushers to shame in the Army Bowl, the same place he gave Kash Daniel a “wake-up” on a counter during bowl practice.  Landon’s put on plenty of good weight since committing to Kentucky as a sophomore and has the frame to support more.  The local kid spurned big schools and remained steadfast to UK, where he will likely develop into an NFL player.

Davonte Robinson

davonte robinson



Position: Cornerback

Height/Weight: 6’2/180

Hometown (High School): Lexington, Ky. (Henry Clay)

Twitter: @davonterealdeal

Recruited by: John Schlarman

Chose UK over: Louisville, Notre Dame, Georgia and Ohio State.



Notable accomplishments: Selected 1st Team All-State, the #1 CB in Kentucky. Robinson led the team in tackles for three straight seasons, including a team-high 100 tackles and one interception in 2015. He also was a threat offensively for Henry Clay.  Robinson’s Senior year touchdowns: four rushing, two receiving and one 91-yard kickoff return.

Projected impact: Speed and ability to influence scoreboard could push him into competition for immediate playing time.

Film Takeaways:

-FAST, one of the fastest in the class with a 4.35 40

-Adaptable to play multiple positions

-Potential special teams star as a returner

-Upper level SEC speed

-Fluid hips for change of direction/explosion

-Vastly under-rated

Stoops Says: “Devonte may be the most underrated prospect in this entire class. He is a special football player and talent. He has the ability to play many positions but we will play him at corner. I can’t wait to work with him.”

Summary: Top 2 Athlete In Class, alongside A.J. Rose.  The BBN expects much from the local kids, and in Robinson’s case, it’s deserved.  An electric athlete, he remained steadfast in his commitment as Alabama and other traditional powers pursued him late in his career.  With plenty of young depth at cornerback, it’s unknown if he’ll be able to see the field immediately on defense, but he possess the tangibles to contribute immediately on Special Teams.  Robinson has the intangibles to use that platform to catapult into the defensive rotation.

Tobias “Cash” Gilliam




Position: Defensive Back


Height/Weight: 6’/190


Hometown (High School): Huber Heights, Oh. (Wayne)


Twitter: @BlessedCash_


Recruited by: Vince Marrow


Chose UK over: Nebraska, Washington State, Pitt, Cincinnati and West Virginia



Notable accomplishments: Named Southwest Ohio Division I Defensive Player of the Year for Wayne High School. Wayne (14-1) was consistently ranked Top 25 in the nation by USA Today, finishing #10 after falling to St. Edward’s in the D-I State Final for the second consecutive year.  Gilliam was also named First Team Division I All-Ohio.

Projected impact:  Gilliam has the ability to play as true freshman, it all depends on depth and positional placement (Safety/Nickel).

Film Takeaways:

-Hitter, physical vs. run and pass.

-Excellent instincts breaking off the hash and reading quarterback’s eyes.

-Played WR, prevalent explosion plays

– Covers plenty of ground from the safety position

Stoops Says: “We are very excited about Tobias. He comes from a strong high school program and he knows how to win. We’ve had the opportunity to work with him in the summers at camp and we have been very impressed with his ability and work ethic. ”

Summary:  We at the KSR compound all believe Gilliam is much better than a 3-star.  He’s Roush’s favorite non-Kentucky recruit, and Freddie knows of no other comparison than Wildcat-great, Melvin Johnson.  He doesn’t use that comparison lightly, but Gilliam is deserving of the praise.  He’s a versatile, physical football player with excellent instincts.  To put it in coach-speak: “he’s got a nose for the football.”  As Freddie puts it, “he’s a snot-bubbler.”

Nick(8:06)-  The first round is in and there are a TON.  The fax machines are hot, with only six open slots.  Give me a minute to make sure I have them all in correctly.  

Nick (8:04)- Freddie stepped up his shoe game for the big day.


Nick (7:59)-  Three guys the staff was anxiously waiting on – Jordan Griffin, A.J. Rose, and Tobias Gilliam – Tweet that they’ve sent in their faxes.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 7.57.35 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 7.57.51 AM Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 7.58.05 AM

Nick (7:55)-  Even though there’s still 5 minutes to go, the Early Enrollees are already attending classes, so I think it’s safe to say they’re official by now.  Go ahead and get a head start by getting to know the first guys on campus in the ’16 class.

Dakota Holtzclaw

NSD Holtzclaw


Position: Wide Receiver/ Tight End

Height/Weight: 6’7/220

Hometown (High School): Worthington, Ohio (Kilbourne)

Twitter: @Dakota81_Claw

Recruited by: Vince Marrow

Chose UK over: Virginia Tech, Louisville, Duke, and Cincinnati.




Notable accomplishments: Led Kilbourne High School to an 11-2 record. Totaled 28 catches for 421 yards and a touchdown as a senior for Worthington Kilbourne, including an individual best five-catches for 141 yards and a TD in a week-four win.

Projected impact: Likely a redshirt to add size and strength in order play with his hand in the ground and block at the line of scrimmage as a tight end.

Film Takeaways:

-Effective stutter step to vertical route initiation.

-High points fade route, out-competes defenders for hands catch.

-Long strider, deceptive speed.

-Stance to route initiation high, lower stance required.

-Vision to locate underthrown pass and compete for completion.

Stoops Says: “Dakota has great size and speed. We saw him run track last spring and he ran sub-11.0 in the 100 meters several times. He’s a 6-7 receiver who gives us another big target on the outside. He has great hands and a large catch radius. We think he has the ability to develop into a really good receiver in our system.”

Summary: A tall receiver with more than adequate speed. With his lengthy frame, coaches could move him to TE or H-back.  He also has the potential to flex into the slot and could be a valuable big target across the middle of defenses.  Holtzlcaw also has the potential to be a red zone threat with the preferred height for goal line fade routes.

Drake Jackson




Position: Center/Guard

Height/Weight: 6’2/308

Hometown (High School): Versailles, Ky. (Woodford County)

Twitter: @The_Drake_52

Recruited by: John Schlarman

Chose UK over: Alabama, Florida, Ohio State, Penn State and Tennessee.



Notable accomplishments: Rated nation’s #1 Center in 2016; attended Nike Camp The Opening, left listed as one of the Top 5 OL in camp; US Army All-American and Team Captain. In the game he led his team to a decisive victory while playing virtually every offensive snap, pancaking opponents regularly.  Two-time first-team all-state selection by the Courier-Journal and The Associated Press.  A 2015 Herald-Leader “Class of Commonwealth” honoree.  A four-star prospect by all four major recruiting services.

Projected impact: Best course of action is for Drake to redshirt learn from future NFL center Jon Toth. HOWEVER, if necessary, Jackson could easily play in year one.

Film Takeaways:

-Low center of gravity, plays under defenders with leverage.

-Don’t let the smile fool ya, NASTY

-Finishes blocks

-Maintains horizontal movement parallel pad level

-High OL IQ, played all five OL positions

Stoops Says: “Drake is an outstanding lineman with polished technique for a player coming out of high school. He has the will to succeed and he thrives in a competition setting. Being elected captain of the West squad by his peers for the Army All-American Game just proves what type of person he is. He is a great leader and competitor.”

Summary:  A lunchpail football player, Jackson goes to work every single day.  Coached by UK-great Dennis Johnson, Jackson’s been considered undersized but fought his way to the top.  The All-American is projected to play center and spend the year redshirting behind Jon Toth, but he possesses the skills to play right away at offensive guard.  It will be interesting to see where thins stand at the end of Spring Ball.

Gunnar Hoak




Position: Quarterback

Height/Weight: 6’4/200

Hometown (High School): Dublin, Oh. (Coffman)

Twitter: @GunnarHoak12

Recruited by: Vince Marrow

Chose UK over: Cincinnati.





Notable accomplishments: Led Coffman to a 9-4 record his Senior season. Has been clocked at a 4.61 40. Threw for 2,584 yards with 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions as a Junior, leading the Shamrocks to an 11-1 record and as a Junior was named Central District Player of the Year.  Coached by Mark Crabtree at Dublin Coffman, which has produced seven Division I quarterbacks since 2003.

Projected impact: With QB departures and new offensive leadership, could potentially compete for playing time. Best case scenario; redshirt.

Film Takeaways:

-Can make all throws in Gran’s offense

-Excellent pocket awareness and mechanics

-High level ball handling in play action

-Adequate arm strength

-Deceiving speed

-Developed field awareness

-Fundamentally sound quarterback

-Mechanically ready for college competition

Stoops Says: “We’ve very excited to have Gunnar in our program. He has the mental ability and the technique a quarterback needs. He has a great throwing motion, great feet and he throws the ball on target. He has been a leader on a very good high school football program and it’s great to have him in here mid-year to begin learning the offense.”

Summary: Even though he’s considered a pro-style quarterback, Hoak is a mobile athlete.  Considered a 4-star by ESPN, enrolling early will be vital in his development, allowing him to learn the playbook and get acquainted with the speed of the SEC.

Kash Daniel


Position: Linebacker

Height/Weight: 6’2/235

Hometown (High School): Paintsville, Ky. (Paintsville)

Twitter: @KashDaniel15

Recruited by: John Schlarman & D.J. Eliot

Chose UK over: Louisville & South Carolina


Notable accomplishments:  The US Army All-American was named Kentucky’s Mr. Football and Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year; named first-team All-State by The Courier-Journal and The Associated Press; 2015 Herald-Leader “Class of Commonwealth” honoree; winner of the Paul Hornung Award, honoring the top player in the state.  Kash was a two-way star as a quarterback and linebacker at Paintsville, helping the Tigers compile a 13-1 record and advance to the Class 1A semifinals, only to take their first defeat after he was sidelined due to injury.  He rushed and passed for 2,245 combined yards (1,319 passing) and a 36 combined touchdowns as a senior (22 rushing TDs).  On the other side of the ball, he had 158 tackles, four fumble recoveries and four interceptions, returning a pair for touchdowns

Projected impact:  As an early enrolled, Daniel will compete for immediate playing time at linebacker and contribute on Special Teams.  As he put it last week: “If they want me to play Special Teams, I’ll play Special Teams. If they want me to fill the water jug, I’ll fill the water jug.”

Film Takeaways:

-Deceptively fast; 4.6 40

-Excellent lateral movement

-Shown physical traits to play ILB and OLB

-Physical tackler, seeks collision

– A badass, the kind of guy you hope you’re not assigned to block

– Detractors against Ky. 1A talent were proven wrong in the Alamodome

Stoops Says: “We couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome Kash, Kentucky’s Mr. Football, to our team. He exemplifies the definition of a blue collar player.  He’s an extremely hard worker and he is very driven. Kash is what you’re looking for in a middle linebacker. He has the size, instincts and leadership you want in the middle of the defense.

Summary:  What’s not to like about Kash Daniel?  This paragraph cannot encompass the awesomeness that is Kash.  He has a great story, coming from unknown to All-American, but the undefinable Daniel is most defined by where he’s from — the mountains.  A man you never want to mess with and one of the most entertaining individuals to walk through the Nutter Training Facility, Kash will undoubtedly be a lightning rod of attention throughout his time at Kentucky. 

Naquez Pringle





Position: Defensive Tackle

Height/Weight: 6’2/340

Hometown (High School): Georgetown, SC (Itawamba Community College)

Twitter: @PNaquez

Recruited by: Jimmy Brumbaugh

Chose UK over: UCF and Appalachian State



Notable accomplishments: Pringle received offers from Clemson and South Carolina out of high school.

Projected impact: Will provide instant depth on the defensive line but must use the Spring to get in shape and become comfortable with the system.

Film Takeaways:

-Low center of gravity, powerful athlete

-Violent initial punch and separation from blocker

-Capable of clogging center gap

-Showed bursts of speed and change of direction

-Prototypical nose tackle

Stoops Says: “We are excited to have Naquez in the program. He is an extremely powerful and fundamental interior defensive lineman who was heavily recruited out of high school. We are very pleased he was able to enroll at Kentucky mid-year and that he will be able to work out and participate in spring practice. He will add much-needed depth to our defensive line.”

Summary:  The Junior College transfer is ironically a big fan of Pringle’s, carrying the nickname “Tater” since high school.  But don’t think it’s all a laughing matter with Pringle, he ain’t no joke.  When Freddie asked him what position on the defensive line he plays, he sternly responded, “I’m a defensive player.  I play wherever they tell me to play.”  It’s been the case before.  Pringle was a punter at previous stops.  He believes he’s prepared for the next step after using Junior College to get serious about his football future.

Stephen Johnson II

Richard Liu | The Desert Sun

Richard Liu | The Desert Sun


Position: Quarterback


Height/Weight: 6’3/190


Hometown (High School): Rancho Cucamonga, Ca. (College of the Deser)


Twitter: @stephen_h_j


Recruited by: Darin Hinshaw


Chose UK over: Arkansas State



Notable accomplishments: Finished Junior College Rated as the 5th best JUCO dual-threat quarterback. In 2015, he threw for 3,210 yards and rushed for an additional 429, while leading the Southern California Football Association in passing yards per game (321.0) and passing touchdowns (34). Those numbers were enough to earn the honor as the Mountain American Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year

Projected impact: With QB departures and new offensive leadership, could potentially compete for playing time. Best case scenario; redshirt.

Film Takeaways:

-Extremely quick release

-Shown tendency to read entire field

-Courage to throw over middle in tight windows

-Snap-Catch-Release decisive pocket decisions

-Pocket escape ability

-Capable of executing Run/Pass/Option

Stoops Says: “We are extremely excited to add Stephen to our team.  He is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback who has all of the skills to compete in the SEC.  He will be able to learn the system and compete with the other quarterbacks in spring practice and as a junior he brings experience and a wealth of talent to our program.”

Summary:  With multiple quarterbacks departing after last season. Darin Hinshaw and Eddie Gran needed depth at the quarterback position.  Wanting to have someone to push for the starting spot, Hinshaw went to the desert and found his man.  After looking at dozens of different quarterbacks, Johnson had the mechanics and throwing motion that Hinshaw wanted to see.  Johnson has a slim frame, but he will provide enough competition to ensure sound quarterback play is to come.


Nick (7:48)-  Ohio linebacker Jaylin Bannerman is All In. Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 7.47.59 AM

Nick (7:44)-  Henry Clay product, cornerback Davonte Robinson, Tweets that he’s officially a Cat, but it’s not official until that fax comes in at 8:00, so we’ll wait a little longer to share his profile. Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 7.42.27 AM

Nick (7:40)-  Normally we use basketball season to forget about football, but today the tables have turned.  Things are going to get crazy here over the next four hours, starting at 8:00, so grab some coffee and enjoy unending analysis.

A behind-the-scenes look inside the recruiting room:

UK Athletics

UK Athletics



Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

9 Comments for 2016 National Signing Day LIVE Diary: Part I

  1. The King
    8:01 am February 3, 2016 Permalink

    Not complaining in the least, but I am a little confused as to why a coach leaves one school for another right before signing day. Or is the timing really irrelevant with this change?

    • UK Big Board Update
      8:44 am February 3, 2016 Permalink

      It can only be good for us and bad for Louisville, so I’ll take it! Lol!

    • ukjaybrat
      8:48 am February 3, 2016 Permalink

      maybe it was to help swing a kid in our direction in the last second that may have been on the fence

  2. Crushgroove
    8:15 am February 3, 2016 Permalink

    Show me Bonner and I’m a happy man.

  3. So judging from that picture, is Drake Jackson trying to be the next Pillsbury Throwboy? 🙂

  4. They’re actually using a Cover it Live blog over on the UK webcast! LOL!

  5. There’s a PAPA JOHN’S coffee mug in front of Matt as he interviews Lamar Thomas???