Continuing to look ahead, several redshirt freshmen and transfers will play prominent roles in 2016. With graduation influencing personnel decisions at linebacker and defensive line, other spots will be up for grabs by enhanced competition. As UK enters an encouraging recruiting weekend, let’s take a look the newcomers that are already on campus:
Greg Hart, Tight End — 6’5 240 Nebraska transfer. Originally from Dayton’s Archbishop Alter High School. Hart recorded nine special team tackles for the Cornhuskers.
Hart will add quality depth to the already talented TE position. Will contribute on special teams. Excellent blocker with exceptional work ethic.
Courtney Love, Linebacker — 6’1 240 Nebraska transfer. Attended Youngstown’s Cardinal Mooney High School.
Love is a dynamic player and a mature addition to the locker room. Proven at the collegiate level, he will most likely become Kentucky’s defensive leader. Talk of his work ethic is refreshing and will be called upon to lead a young linebacker corps and defense. Excelled on scout team while sitting out 2015. His scout team work indicates maturity and a team-first mentality. Could be latest in line of UK to NFL linebackers.
De’Niro Laster, Linebacker— 6’4 230 Minnesota transfer. Played at Cleveland Heights High School before signing with Minnesota. Was Academic All Big 10.
Another proven defender, Laster will immediately contribute at a position of need. As 2015 illustrated, SEC teams can never have enough athletic linebackers on the roster. A potential starter.
Kei Beckham, Cornerback — 5’11 180, first team all-state (Ohio) from talent rich Trotwood-Madison High School.
Beckham will be a special teams contributor. Kei will contend to be in the deep and talented cornerback rotation. Could also play nickel. Brings swagger and instinct to the secondary.
Alvonte Bell, Outside Linebacker/Defensive End — 6’5 260, spent two years at Pearl River Community College.
Much needed pass rush specialist. At which position is the question. Is he an OLB or DE? Will join fellow junior college teammate Courtney Miggins. Bell, Kengera Daniel, and Courtney Miggins must improve production from the defensive line pass rush.
Eli Brown, Linebacker — 6’2 210 four-star prospect from Warren East High School in Bowling Green. Was listed as the 15th best OLB in the nation.
Chose UK over Ohio State, Penn State, Ole Miss, and many others. Was able to redshirt to rehabilitate injured knee, add strength, and put on good weight. Will contribute at linebacker and on special teams. Highly athletic football player with the ability to comfortably play in space.
Jabari Greenwood, Wide Receiver — 6’3 200, was rated as the top receiver in the Washington DC area. Played at traditional power, Gonzaga High School.
Signed with Kentucky over Iowa, Michigan State, and others. Could have contributed as true freshman. Will play in 2016 and brings an athletic upgrade at receiver. Extremely competitive, high ceiling.
Will Jackson, Cornerback — 6’3 200, played at St. Johns College High School in Washington DC. Jackson was a late rising prospect.
Jackson was the hidden gem of the Class of 2015. Adds height and athletic ability to the secondary. Will be special teams player and factor in cornerback rotation. Can also play nickel or hybrid linebacker/defensive back role.
Tavin Richardson, Wide Receiver — 6’3 218, was rated as the 12th best player in South Carolina. Played at traditionally strong Byrnes High School.
Tavin picked UK over Florida, Miami and several other national powers. Could have played as true freshman. His toughness and aggressive nature over the middle of the field will open up outside passing lanes. Upgrade at the receiver position. High ceiling.
Logan Stenberg, Offensive Tackle — 6’6 330, rated as second best offensive tackle in the state of Alabama.
Stenberg flourished in last year’s Mississippi-Alabama all-star week. Stenberg will compete at offensive tackle, a position that was limited due to lack of depth and competition.
Calvin Taylor Jr, Offensive Tackle — 6’9 295, recorded 46 tackles and two QB sacks as a senior at Augusta Christian.
Needs more time to develop as well as add weight/strength. Excellent height and wing span.
Marcus Walker, Defensive Back : 6’1 185, from Lake Wales High School, Walker was rated as a four start prospect by ESPN. Weekly played against elite competition in Polk County, Florida.
Chose UK over UCLA, Notre Dame, Florida, Michigan State and others. Was ready to play as true freshman. Will be a key contributor on special teams. Walker will compete to factor in a talented and deep safety rotation. Very good football player. Physical tackler with a high ceiling.
Mason Wolfe, Offensive Line — 6’6 325, the Henderson County native was rated as number one offensive tackle in the state of Kentucky.
Mason will add much needed OL depth. Capable to play both tackle and guard.
Above listed redshirts and transfers will be significant contributors for Mark Stoops and the 2016 Wildcats. Their influence will be noticeable at certain positions. One commonality is that many will add an energetic influx on special teams. Also noteworthy are the teams that these players passed on to sign with UK.
Overall, the redshirts and transfers will athletically upgrade the roster. Where depth limited in 2015, 2016 will finally mark the light at the end of the tunnel in personnel deficiencies. Stay tuned for National Signing Day.