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Recruiting Roundup: Targeting Speed at Corner and National QB Recruiting

(Photo: @MHairston22)

(Photo: @MHairston22)

Crootin’ season never stops in the college football world and here at KSR we are going to keep you updated on all of the ins and outs with Kentucky’s class of 2021 in addition to what you need to know nationally. COVID-19 has slowed down everything, but somehow it has helped speed up recruiting.

KSR’s Recruiting Roundup is where you will find everything important that happened on the trail. We finally got our hands on a schedule this week while UK picked up their second corner for 2021.

Cornerback Profile Changing

It wasn’t very long ago after Mark Stoops’ first team was torched by Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham and L’Damian Washington when UK decided they needed to target a certain skill set at corner. Not long after that, we would see the staff value height and length as they felt it was important that they not get bullied outside the numbers by opposing passing games. What followed was some success.

Derrick Baity, Lonnie Johnson and Chris Westry all turned into hits for the program and they each played a lot of football during their tenures in Lexington. They provided some crazy length on the outside and numerous times we heard opposing coaches talk about how difficult it was to game plan for Kentucky because of all that size they had on the backend of their defense.

However, things are beginning to change.

With the evolution of the RPO and every offense adopting Air Raid concepts that take advantage of individual matchups, there are two very important attributes merging. On offense, you need to have a quarterback who can deliver the ball accurately to take advantage of isolations and on defense you have to be able to cover in space. To cover in space, you need speed. Kentucky is recruiting speed at the corner position.

The Wildcats have scored corner commitments from both Adrian Huey and Maxwell Hariston in recent weeks. While neither scares you from a physical standpoint, they can both really run with laser forty-yard dash times coming in at the 4.4-4.5 range. That’s really good. This also matches the profile of true freshman Carrington Valentine who is drawing some buzz at training camp.

UK is putting an emphasis on speed and we’re seeing that play out at corner.

Missing on JUCOs

Despite having a head coach that is considered one of the best secondary coaches in the country, Kentucky has never really had a lot of top-end recruiting success when it comes to finding corners. UK has only landed two blue-chip corners and one of those (Yusuf Corker) has been moved to safety. Therefore, UK has had to lean in on junior college recruiting.

Lonnie Johnson and Brandin Echols are arguably the two best corners Stoops has had in Lexington and each was a mid three-star recruit that came from the junior college ranks. The Wildcats have had some success finding talent this way and this year they seemed to want to go that route again.

UK targeted both Khyree Jackson at East Mississippi and Kamal Hadden at Independence also known as the first two programs featured on Last Chance U. However, both of those players announced commitments this week and neither was for Kentucky. Jackson is headed to Alabama while Hadden is going to Auburn.

The Wildcats gave each a good run and seemed like a contender in both of the recruitments for awhile before losing out in the end. It’s probably no surprise that commitments were secured for Hairston and Huey in recent weeks to go ahead and wrap up the need for corners.

Red River’s Bright Future

The biggest recruiting news of the week happened down in the Lonestar State with Tom Herman pulling a monster win over Lincoln Riley. Quinn Ewers, who is rated as the top quarterback in the class of 2022 and the No. 2 overall prospect in the crop, pledged to the Longhorns. He’s got some beautiful locks on him.

Last year starting for Texas high school power Southlake Carroll in the suburbs of Dallas, Ewers completed over 72 percent of his throws while tossing 45 touchdowns with three interceptions as a sophomore playing against the best competition in the state. A bunch of schools called for his services, but in the end it was Herman winning out over Riley.

This all comes on the heels of Riley landing the top quarterback in the class of 2021 by going into the DMV and securing a commitment from Caleb Williams who is listed as this year’s top senior quarterback. This comes just two seasons after landing top-ranked QB Spencer Rattler out of Phoenix who is expected to start for the Sooners this fall. The two programs are cashing in on quarterback talent and that means some fun times ahead for the Big XII.

Get ready to see some very fun games at the Cotton Bowl when the two teams meet in the future.

Another Manning

Yes, you read that right. There is another Manning in the pipeline and he attends the same school that Uncle Peyton and Uncle Eli tore it up at in New Orleans back in their heyday. Arch Manning is the son of Cooper who is the big brother to both Petyon and Eli. Of course, he is named after his grandfather Archie and there will be a lot of pressure on him to follow the family’s Ole Miss footsteps.

247 Sports released their class of 2023 rankings this past week and the sophomore made his debut as a top-five player. His early tape certainly passes the eye test and this could end up turning into one of the most followed college football recruitments in the history of the sport. Lane Kiffin is chomping at the bit to get a Manning into his offense, but expect all of the other big dogs to get involved.

The Manning family just keeps on giving.

Article written by Adam Luckett

Twitter: @AdamLuckettKSR