Kentucky remains red-hot on the recruiting trail after landing the commitments of three 4-star prospects over the weekend. Keaten and Destin Wade pledged to the Cats on Friday. Saturday was another momentous occasion after generational left tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin announced his intentions to become a Wildcat. Two days, three big-time commitments. What a weekend for the Cats.
What Does All This Mean?
Mark Stoops is on pace to land his best recruiting class yet. The Cats are also on a run for in-state talent following the commitments of Treyveon Longmire, Grant Bingham, Jackson Smith, and Goodwin. There are two remaining targets that would give the Wildcats an impressive in-state haul. Frederick Douglass’ Dane Key and Ty Bryant remain to be the UK staff’s focus in their objective to keep the commonwealth’s best players at home.
Destin Wade is a 6’4, 205-pound versatile prospect that’s listed as an Athlete but plays quarterback for Summitt High School in Tennessee. Wade led the Spartans to a state championship a year ago. His film is telling and paints the picture of a natural-born leader who possesses multiple traits that project to the collegiate ranks regardless of position. Will he play quarterback in college? We’ll see. Offensive coordinator and QB coach Liam Coen was listed along with Steve Clinkscale as Wade’s primary recruiters. So yes, he certainly will get a shot at the quarterback position. Wade has a strong arm and is capable of completing vertical shots. But, like most quarterbacks that transition from high school to college, some mechanical development would be necessary. Wade is a long-strider when carrying the football and often out-runs defenders. He is accurate when in the pocket but is best when his launch point goes beyond the tackle box. Wade is a proven winner and will not back down from competition. Both are preferred attributes for a college quarterback.
Destin Wade is a quick processer when diagnosing opposing defenses which indicates a high football IQ. On-field decisions seem natural and easy. Production and winning matter. Wade checks both of those blocks. The quarterback accounted for 37 touchdowns and amassed 2,899 total yards as a junior on a state championship team. His high level of athleticism also projects as a defensive back or pass catcher if QB is not his final destination. Regardless of where, Destin Wade will be on the field for the Wildcats.
Keaten Wade is a long, explosive outside linebacker that often produces immediate and speedy pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Recruited by Steve Clinkscale and Brad White, Wade displays natural athletic attributes that translates to the SEC regardless of assigned role. Listed at 6’4, 225-pounds, Wade has the hip flexibility/bend, speed, and twitchiness that is required to be an influencer at outside linebacker. He only played in three games as a junior so his sample size is small. However, it’s easy to recognize why Wade projects as one of the top defensive players in the country and a perfect prospect to be groomed by Brad White. Upper body strength and specific pass rush technique can be developed in college.
UK is a program that has enjoyed tremendous success in developing outside linebackers. Za’Darius Smith, Bud Dupree, and Josh Allen all starred at Kentucky prior to enjoying success at the professional level. Boogie Watson, Jordan Wright, and JJ Weaver followed and flourished under the tutelage of Brad White. Keaten Wade possesses all necessary traits to become a starter at Kentucky. UK led the conference in pass defense in 2020 in spite of registering just 15 QB sacks. Finding a solution in that category remains a priority.
Kiyaunta Goodwin is a name that has been associated with Kentucky for quite some time. His relationship with Vince Marrow strongly factored in his commitment to Kentucky. Goodwin to UK is substantial for many reasons. First, Mark Stoops gets a Top-50 player at a premium position. Left tackle is a critical spot along the line-of-scrimmage that requires a special skill set, demeanor, and a particular body type to protect the quarterback’s blind side. At 6’8, 300-pounds with excellent reach and hand size, Goodwin has a strong initial punch to go along with elite feet. He is a prototypical left tackle that could be a plug-and-play starter with the potential to be a three-year player in Lexington. Second, Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow went toe to toe with traditional college football heavyweights Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State to secure Goodwin’s commitment. UK and the other programs were all-in and the Cats won. Noteworthy.
Combining Grant Bingham with Kiyaunta Goodwin to go along with Jager Burton and John Young provides UK with an excellent offensive line foundation. Stoops is stacking OL talent at a level that has not been seen in Lexington. Kentucky is considered as an upper echelon offensive line developmental program. It’s also landing elite talent. The Big Blue Wall is here to stay and is gaining strength and momentum. Goodwin is a massive piece of the Wildcat’s future.
What do the Wade twins and Kiyaunta Goodwin have in common other than being 4-star future Wildcats? Kentucky was the first program to offer each a scholarship. The first offer matters. A lot. Mark Stoops and staff live off the “Recruit and Develop” mantra and it is paying dividends. The UK staff evaluates talent in the early stages of the process at an unprecedented level. Kentucky was also the first team to offer current Wildcat Jager Burton. Prospects remember the first offer and UK is reaping the benefits of early prospect projection and evaluation.
Kentucky is now a destination program with the proven ability to develop prospects into Draft choices and win football games. Since 2016, the Wildcats have a 37-26 record and have won three consecutive bowl games. UK has also seen its Draft picks significantly increase during the same time period. High profile ‘Cats have made a splash in the Draft and in the Super Bowl. Mike Edwards played a key role for the World Champion Buccaneers. I can’t help but to think that Pro Day is playing a role in its success on the recruiting trail. The Wildcats could have as many as seven players drafted later this month. December Signing Day can’t come soon enough. Prospects can now take official visits beginning in June which could bring on a flurry of flips across the nation. The Cats have to hang onto its commits. Saban and Dabo won’t give up. The Cats have a fight on their hands.
Who or What’s Next?
We’ll see. Recruiting is a year-round obligation. One thing is certain, the Wildcats got better this weekend. Steve Clinkscale is proving to be an invaluable recruiter in the Nashville area and in Michigan. Vince Marrow is winning the state of Kentucky but has more work to do in securing a lucrative in-state collection of talent. What a weekend.