After losing another blue-chip recruiting battle to Alabama, the Wildcats were able to score their 15th recruiting win of the 2021 cycle to get the party started on Monday. For the second recruitment in a row, Steve Clinkscale ran point on another secondary player and Maxwell Hairston becomes the second corner prospect to join the class. The Detroit metro area native will bring some speed to the position.
Hairston saw his recruitment really take off in July when it appeared he was Lawrence bound to play Les Miles at Kansas. Beginning mid-July, Hairston received an offer from Kentucky and that would be followed by Minnesota, Washington State, Virginia Tech and Purdue. The low three-star all of a sudden had a lot of choices and released a top-seven earlier this month in preparation for his announcement.
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Kentucky won out in the end and now it is time to step into the KSR Film Room to show you what type of player Mark Stoops is adding to his secondary. Hairston brings positional versatility to the corner position with some high-level ball skills.
Let’s face it, when watching an outside corner you want to see two things. You need to see the top-end speed when the corner can run stride-for-stride with a receiver on a vertical route and you want to see ball skills when the ball is in the air and there is a chance to make a play. Doesn’t take long to see both on Hairston’s tape.
Hairston goes step-for-step on the 9-route and does a good job not looking until the receiver turns his head. He does a good job of finding the football and tracking it in the air. He beats the wideout to the spot and the result is an interception. Very, very nice play.
When lined up in press, sometimes you can get out-leveraged but you want it to happen towards the outside so you can used the sideline as a 12th defender. That happens on the fade and Hariston flashes some nice recovery skills.
It can often be best for corners in island coverage to not look and just run stride for stride with the receiver. However, you have to keep distance and used your length to defend. Hairston does that and comes away with a PBU (pass break-up). Nicely done.
Instincts, instincts, instincts. It’s a very important trait for any defensive player to have and can be game-changer for any cornerback. Just having that innate ability to know where the quarterback is going with the football can give you the opportunity to make a lot of plays. Hairston has it.
While in Cover 1 in the red zone, Hairston notices the slot receiver run a corner route and he has leverage on the nickel in addition to the free safety in the middle. It’s a great call by the opposing offense and it’s likely that the outside receiver ran the wrong route on the smash concept. That mistake puts Hairston in the area and his instincts take over. He finds the ball and makes a play.
Maxwell Hairston is currently listed as a low three-star prospect, but UK has proven that developing players like this into players has not been an issue. Both Boogie Watson and Cedrick Dort Jr. were each in the same spot and both are guys who could turn into NFL Draft picks. Hairston’s tape is better than his recruiting ranking and he has some big time corner skills.
The Michigan native could play either field or boundary corner in UK’s scheme and has some elite ball skills that could potentially make him a factor in the defensive depth chart quickly in his career. Weight and strength need to be added and improvement in run support is something that needs to be worked on. However, his ball skills are really strong and the speed is there to succeed and potentially be an impact special teams performer.
Another nice recruiting win for the program in Michigan.