Signing day eve has arrived and we can all hear those fax machines revving up those engines for their Super Bowl. Kentucky is hoping to reel in some late recruiting wins to put a bow on top of this 2020 class, but before that they went into Ohio to find a sure tackling safety. Benny Snell Jr.’s alma mater produced another Wildcat to add to the plethora of talent UK currently has in the secondary.
Rickey Hyatt Jr. is a three-star prospect out of Westerville Central High School in the Columbus, Ohio area and is a defensive back courted by a ton of midwest programs. Iowa State was the first program to offer the safety, but Kentucky shortly followed in April of 2019. Purdue, West Virginia, Michigan State, Rutgers, Indiana, Louisville, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and North Carolina followed suit.
In the end, Hyatt visited Kentucky, Michigan State, and North Carolina with the Wildcats and recruiting ace Vince Marrow beating out Mack Brown’s Tar Heels. After taking some time following the summer recruiting circuit, Hyatt pledged to the Wildcats back in September and things have been pretty quiet on the recruiting front ever since.
The recruiting process appeared to end with Marrow, Mark Stoops, and cornerbacks coach Steve Clinkscale visiting Hyatt and his family in Westerville last week.
I had a great time with the coach’s today on my home visit??? pic.twitter.com/uXkqVwmT7J
— Rickey Hyatt Jr. (@RickeyHyatt) December 12, 2019
The Football Player
At The Opening, Rickey Hyatt Jr. measured in at 6-foot tall and 195 pounds with a sub 4.7 forty yard dash. When you turn on the tape, you see a true free safety who can cover a lot of ground in a hurry. He has very good football instincts to go with the necessary ball skills to make plays in the passing game. He can be a centerfielder, but also has the savvy to go make plays knowing that he is the last line of defense and cannot get beat deep.
When asked to, Hyatt is an effective blitzer who does a good job of timing out the snap count and not arriving too early. Again, it comes back to his instincts as a football player and he knows how to finish when he gets there. He has a lot of skills, but his best attribute is his tackling ability.
Hyatt does a great job recognizing plays from his safety spot and when he sees run he attacks. He does a great job using correct angles to cut off running lanes and delivers blows when he arrives to the ballcarrier. Multiple times on tape, you see Hyatt knocking the ballcarrier backwards and that’s not something you often get from a lot of high school free safeties. He can make tackles at all three levels and that is exactly what Kentucky asks their free safety to do.
One thing we can always depend on with Mark Stoops at the helm is that the state of the Ohio is going to be the backbone of the recruiting class. In this year’s haul, UK currently has five players from the Buckeye State and that should surprise no one. Consistently, this staff recruits the Columbus area very hard and they have two pledges from there and potentially three if Michael Drennen II joins the party.
After a talent exodus following the 2018 season, UK’s secondary responded nicely despite some key injuries to rookies M.J. Devonshire and Taj Dodson this season. Yusuf Corker will enter his redshirt junior season as one of the best free safeties in the SEC, but after that the battle for next in line is wide open.
Moe Douglass was a blue-chip member of last year’s class while Taj Dodson really played well when called upon earlier this year. Rickey Hyatt Jr. will join that group in what should be a really fierce battle in fall camp, but we’ve seen UK not be afraid to move players around in the secondary.
There’s no denying that Hyatt’s best position is free safety, but if he can prove to have the man coverage ability to play nickel it could allow him to see the field much faster. Either way, Stoops is building quite the secondary in Lexington with multiple quality options at each spot.
Kentucky Football 2020 Recruiting Class Player Previews: John Young, D’Eryk Jackson, Deondre Buford, Beau Allen, Andru Phillips, Kalil Branham, Tre’vonn Rybka, JuTahn McClain, Izayah Cummings, Earnest Sanders, Justin Rogers