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 UKAthletics.com, keep it locked on KSR for NSD in the most ridiculous manner possible.
Nick (11:00)- A look at your 2016 Class
All of the expected commits are official, but Stoops said on KSR, “We’re still trying to pull one more rabbit out of the hat.”
Tyler (10:55): Mark Stoops is wrapping up an appearance on KSR, which we’ll have in its entirety on the site here in just a little bit. Until then, some highlights:
“No doubt it’s our best class,” Stoops said. “They’re very good football players top to bottom. They’re great people and they’re very serious about football.”
Stoops singled out Henry Clay cornerback Davonte Robinson as a steal. Robinson was heavily courted by Notre Dame throughout his recruitment, but stayed firm in his commitment to Kentucky.
“He was about as important as anyone in this class to me,” Stoops said. “Anybody that watched this kid offered him.”
Interestingly, Stoops said that he thinks both new QBs Stephen Johnson and Gunnar Hoak will compete with Drew Barker for the starting job. We knew Johnson came in expecting to fight for the job, but Hoak?
“I think Stephen and I think Gunnar will compete. I really do. I haven’t been able to be out there — we’re not allowed to be out there — but our players have been throwing on their own already and our players have reported back that Gunnar’s throwing the ball around very well and Stephen’s got great leadership qualities and great ability. And that’s what you need. Drew needs to be pushed. There needs to be competition and there will be. Like I said, Drew has the upper hand because he’s been here and he’s taken reps and our players know him. First day of spring, he’ll more than likely be under center taking the first reps, but he’s going to be pushed and there’s going to be competition.”
Nick (10:51)- The final signee is IN! JUCO linebacker Jordan Bonner is a Wildcat.
Position: Defensive End/ Outside Linebacker
Hometown (School): Cleveland, Oh. (NE Oklahoma A&M)
Recruited by: Vince Marrow
Chose UK over: Tennessee, Nebraska, Louisville and Virginia Tech
Notable accomplishments: Rated a three-start recruit and the nation’s No. 10 junior college linebacker.
Projected impact: An instant impact player that could potentially be a starter rushing the passer as a defensive end or Jack linebacker.
-Physically stronger than measurables
-Preferred height and arm length
-Highly productive pass rusher
-Quick from stance to pursuit
-Excels in one-on-one situations vs. offensive tackles
-Effectively disengages blockers
Stoops Says: “Jordan is a long explosive athlete that can play in space as well as rush the passer. He will have three years of eligibility when he arrives, which gives him the ability to develop in our system.”
Summary: NEO Junior College is a factory of talent for the South. With three years of eligibility remaining, Bonner has quality experience that could help him enter the lineup at a position of need immediately.
Nick (10:49)- Ka’Derrion Mason will NOT be a Wildcat. The Mississippi defensive lineman had committed to Southern Miss previously and received plenty of interest from Miss. State and UK, but according to the Louisiana Tech Twitter account, Mason has signed with the Bulldogs.
Nick (10:35)- Jaquwan Nelson will NOT be a Wildcat. The South Florida pass rusher signed with Syracuse. It was expected. I do not believe UK sent him paperwork, even though the Cats were in Nelson’s final three.
— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) February 3, 2016
Nick (10:30)- We haven’t seen much of Nebraska transfer Courtney Love until today, but the linebacker has already made an impression as the leader of the defense.
When speaking with Jeremy Jarmon, Kash Daniel had nothing but good things to say about the guy who’s showed him the ropes through the first few weeks of school. “He took me under his wing. He’s showing me the right way on the field and in the weight room,” Kash said.
Love had no love lost for Daniel either, “I call him Cash Money. He’s a man. He reminds me of me. Physically he’s got everything you need.” Love added, “He’s going to be big-time.”
It will be fun to see how this tandem develops.
Tyler (10:23): Drake Jackson and Kash Daniel were on the Signing Day Show a little bit ago, and, as we’ve come to expect, they were pros. Kash said he plans to major in communications and minor in journalism, a natural choice for him considering his gift for gab. Drake’s hosted KSR before, so we know he’s legit, and he and Jeremy Jarmon had some fun banter while discussing their experiences in the US Army All-American Bowl.
Drake: “They showed me how to be dogs in the trenches–”
Jarmon: “I think you’re more of a bear.”
Drake: [laugh] “A bear? Maybe, I’m trying to grow some facial hair, we’ll see.”
Jarmon: “You got that role in ‘The Revenant’ right, where you got a hold of Leo?”
Drake: “Haha, I hated to do that to my man Leo.”
Sorry, Drake, you know I had to:
Nick (10:22)- If you’re worried about Bonner going elsewhere, he Tweeted earlier that his papers are good to go, we’re just waiting for it to become official through UK.
Nick (10:14)- Kordell Looney is in. It’s safe to exhale #BBN. The defensive tackle leaves the staff only waiting for JUCO LB Jordan Bonner.
Position: Defensive Tackle
Hometown (High School): Springfield, Oh. (Springfield)
Recruited by: Vince Marrow
Chose UK over: Louisville and Pitt.
Notable accomplishments: A Top 5 Ohio defensive tackles, even though he’s only played two years of organized football. Looney totaled 93 tackles and seven sacks in just two seasons of varsity football.
Projected impact: Will be a factor for immediate playing time as a 3-technique defensive tackle or 3-4 defensive end.
-Can play 3-technique DT or 3-4 DE
-Instinctively Natural pass rusher
-Agile hips, ability to change direction on line of scrimmage
-Intelligent run pursuit angles
-Verified 5.03 40.
-Excellent height and arm length
Stoops Says: “Kordell has great size and quickness to be an impact interior defensive lineman. He comes from a high school program that is coached by UK alum Maurice Douglass and he will be a great fit in our system.”
Summary: A versatile defensive lineman, Looney can play multiple positions on the defensive line. He was a critical signee at a position of need that gave UK’s coaches a scare when he flirted with Louisville late in the process. Looney’s potential is astounding, with only two years of football experience under his belt. How he responds to coaching in his first month on campus will determine if he can play right away.
Nick (9:45)- From Thomas’ talk with Matt and Jeremy:
New wide receivers coach Lamar Thomas described his new job: “It’s like a dream come true.”
For Thomas, the connections he had with Coach Gran and Coach Stoops set UK apart from others. Gran has known him since he was an 18-year old at The U.
He hasn’t known Stoops as long, but Stoops was different than other college coaches when he recruited at Thomas’ high school as a Florida State assistant. When Thomas asked Stoops what he needed to do to climb the coaching ladder to college, Stoops sat down with him and gave him advice.
“The fact that he would take the time to sit down and talk to a high school coach is pretty amazing to me.”
Thomas has yet to speak with his wide receivers, but he will be meeting with them tomorrow. He believes what he’s been through will help the players relate to him. “The fact that I was able to do what I’ve done in my career, I’ve sat where they’re sitting, that fact alone gives me credibility,” Thomas said.
If that doesn’t work, “They’ll have to listen. I have my ways.”
Lamar Thomas just wrapped up his appearance on the Signing Day Show, and just before that, Mark Stoops discussed his new wide receivers coach on The Leach Report.
“That’s a big part of it, getting the right coaches with the right fit,” Stoops said of Thomas. “Bringing in Lamar was a great get. I’ve known Lamar for a long time from my days coaching at Miami. He was just getting done playing there. I’ve always like Lamar, how he’s handled himself. He has a great swagger, but he’s also very professional.”
Stoops praised Thomas’ work ethic and how he’s evolved as a coach since Stoops first saw him coach at the high school level at Boynton Beach Community High in Florida.
“It was a really good get,” Stoops said again. “He’s a great addition for us.”
Nick will be by with some quotes from Lamar himself here in just a second…
Tyler (9:25): Mark Stoops just wrapped up a brief appearance on The Leach Report, but in case you were glued to the Signing Day Show, here’s a brief summary of his first segment.
“It’s wrapping up early today. Let’s keep those fax machines going. Everything’s going good, it’s been smooth going,” Stoops said, mentioning once again how important it was to keep Jordan Griffin on board. That is clearly the staff’s biggest win so far considering SEC schools were calling Griffin up until he sent in his NLI to try and sway him.
“He stayed strong and it was a big get. Started the morning off right,” Stoops said.
Knock on wood, but Stoops said today has potential to be a “perfect day” with no bad surprises, not always the case on Signing Day.
“Certain years, things fall into place perfectly. At the end of the day, I think you get the ones you’re meant to get. I personally believe this is the strongest class since I’ve been here without question. I know what type of football players they are, and top to bottom, it’s by far the strongest class we’ve had since I’ve been here”
“I feel like we hit all of our needs,” Stoops said. mentioning the addition of punter Gran McKinniss. “We have the opportunity to have a perfect day here. That’s special.”
Stoops’ quotes about new WR coach Lamar Thomas coming up…
Nick (9:26)- Cross comes in shortly after Ross to tighten up the 2016 Class.
Position: Defensive Tackle
Hometown (High School): New Market, Al. (Buckhorn)
Recruited by: Jimmy Brumbaugh, Derrick Ansley
Chose UK over: Navy, Army, Southern Miss and Minnesota.
Notable accomplishments: Cross finished his three-year career with 84 total tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and eight sacks, adding 14 QB hurries and causing a fumble. Tabbed as the 37th best prospect in Alabama and the 77th best defensive tackle, the second-best defensive tackle in Alabama and the 79th best defensive tackle in the nation by Scout.
Projected impact: Preferably a redshirt to add size and improve on fundamentals.
-Intelligent football tendencies
-Quick burst from stance to engagement
-Effective use of hands
-Powerful lower body
Stoops Says: “Ja’Quize came to our camp last summer and impressed us with his ability and technique. He has the size and work ethic we need and is a great addition to our team.”
Summary: A late-rising prospect, after his Senior season Cross was listed as 2nd rated defensive tackle in Alabama. Cross can build on that momentum to help add depth at the critical position of 3-technique defensive end.
Nick (9:22)- We’re starting off Part II of today’s LIVE Diary with a JuCo wide receiver that committed to UK over a year ago. After his plans to enroll early fell through, it’s reassuring to see that he’s made it official.
Position: Outside Wide Receiver
Hometown (School): Westchester, Oh. (Phoenix College)
Recruited by: Vince Marrow
Chose UK over: Arizona State, Akron, Bowling Green and Ohio.
Notable accomplishments: Was a star for Ohio-power Lakota West before attending Junior College.
Projected impact: Ross can immediately compete for playing time at X, a.k.a outside receiver position. Will add toughness and experience to receiving corps.
-Long, rangy receiver
-Locates and competes for football
-Excels in 50/50 plays
Stoops Says: “Kayaune is another big wide receiver target. He’s 6-foot-6 and has the ability to go up and catch the ball at its high point. He will have three years of eligibility to play and we look forward to him having a big impact on our team.”
Summary: Ross will reunite with fellow West Chester, Ohio natives George Asafo-Adjei, Kyle Meadows, and Mikel Horton.