The newest addition to Kentucky’s class of 2022 recruiting class has plenty of ties to the program.
Josh Kattus, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound tight end prospect out of Moeller High School in Cincinnati, OH, pledged his commitment to join the Wildcats earlier Tuesday on Kentucky Sports Radio. Rated as a three-star player by both 247 Sports and Rivals, Kattus chose Kentucky over the likes of Cincinnati, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Illinois, and Michigan. He becomes the ninth commitment for UK from the class of 2022 and the fourth since this past Friday.
Before making his decision live on the air, Kattus spoke with KSR prior to his commitment to discuss what went into landing with the ‘Cats. He’s very familiar with former Moeller graduates and current Kentucky players, tight end Brenden Bates and defensive back Carrington Valentine, and those two played a significant role in convincing Kattus to pick UK.
But it wasn’t just the efforts from Bates and Valentine that brought Kattus to Lexington. Kentucky was the school that met his needs more than any other institute.
“That’s one of the schools I’ve always been interested in and always wanted an offer from,” Kattus said of Kentucky on Monday. “It checked off all my boxes. I really like the coaching staff. I got to meet them, the whole offensive side, and [head] coach [Mark] Stoops this past week. I’ve been talking to Coach [Vince] Marrow a lot and that connection is there. I’ve also talked to [graduate assistant] CJ Conrad and he gave me a lot of good advice. I got to see the campus, it’s obviously beautiful. I’m really happy with my decision.”
But what exactly were those boxes for Kattus that needed checking?
“First off, I want to go to a school that I can see myself at and I like the offense,” Kattus said. “I got a chance to go on a Zoom and watch the new offense there and I really liked it. I want to have a good connection with my position coach because that’s someone you’re going to spend a lot of time with. That definitely checked the box there. The campus is really nice and I wanted to get a little bit away from home but I still wanted to be close so my parents could go to the games. I really like the fact that my freshman year, Brenden Bates will be a senior and he’ll be able to take me under his wing, and that means a lot to me too.”
Kattus never actually played alongside Bates in high school, as Kattus was in eighth grade when Bates was a senior, but the older Moeller grad made sure to keep the pipeline to Kentucky alive. Kattus did play with Valentine, however, and those two have kept in contact since the latter left for Lexington.
“When I got that offer a few months ago, [Bates] instantly reached out, retweeted it, and was like ‘if you’re ever down in Lexington let me know’ stuff like that,” Kattus added. “He made me feel really welcome. He’s been keeping in contact with me every day and he’s a really good guy. He’s told me loves it. I also know Carrington Valentine from Moeller High School who had a really good spring and is gonna be really good for them this year.”
But it wasn’t just the current members of the roster who influenced Kattus’ decision. Tight ends coach Vince Marrow obviously played a massive role in bringing him into the fold.
“Coach Marrow and I have talked a lot these past weeks. Me and my parents, we both feel really comfortable with him. What he says is what he’s gonna do. He’s not gonna lie to you. There would be times where we’d be on Zooms and the Zoom would go over 30 minutes because he was talking about how much he wanted me and how much he wants me to be a part of the tight end brotherhood. I know Brenden Bates and he’s talked about the brotherhood there. I feel really wanted and I know he’s been coaching for a long time and has lots of experience. And also CJ has talked about his experience there and he really loved it.”
Kentucky had to beat out the hometown Cincinnati Bearcats along with Kattus’ dad’s former school, the Michigan Wolverines. His father, Eric Kattus, was an All-Big Ten tight end during the mid-80s where he caught passes from Michigan’s current head coach, Jim Harbaugh. The elder Kattus played six years in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets, but the younger Kattus said his dad never tried to push the Wolverines on him.
“They were my first offer and my first unofficial [visit],” Kattus said of Michigan. “Like I tell a lot of coaches that see my dad played there, I tell them that Michigan worked out for my dad but that doesn’t mean it’s gonna work out for me and I wanna build my own legacy somewhere. My dad 100% agrees with that and he didn’t push me in any way toward that direction. He wanted me to go where I wanted to go.”
There was also the benefit of having an experienced and incredibly talented football father who coached Josh growing up.
“I don’t think I’d be where I am today without him,” Kattus explained. “I didn’t have a tight end coach my freshman and sophomore year, but I was as fortunate enough to have one this past year. But he was my tight end coach growing up. He would throw the ball and I would catch probably thousands of balls in my backyard. From that to watching film every Saturday. He’s gonna tell me how a college coach would correct my film. So he’s always been hard on me from a good perspective and it’s really helped me out.”
Ultimately, the race came down to Kentucky and Cincinnati for Kattus. The head coach of the Bearcats, Luke Fickell, has a son, Landon Fickell, who is a three-star offensive guard committed to UC and also attends Moeller High School. Landon did his best to recruit Kattus to stay home, but Kattus said that, in the end, he had to do what he thought was best for himself, which was choosing the Kentucky Wildcats.
But why did he elect to make his decision now? Northwestern recently extended Kattus an offer and secured an official visit this summer, so why not take those extra trips before narrowing it down?
For the first time in his high school career, Kattus has a steady coaching staff at Moeller and a chance to put together a special season. He intends to divert his focus entirely to his senior season this fall, using the offseason to prepare. That meant committing sooner rather than later, and Kattus said he is 100 percent committed to Kentucky.
“I got to go around and see some campuses. It’s not like I was waiting for anything,” Kattus said. “I kinda had it narrowed down of which schools I liked. I talked to my coach whose been a good collegiate coach and he said you gotta start ramping up to make a decision and go around and see places. I feel like I wanted to do it and I didn’t want to wait any longer. I want to focus all summer and this offseason on my senior year. For the first time in like four years where we’ve had a coach stay, so I think we’re going to have a really good year and that’s what I want to focus on.”
Kattus said that while he doesn’t have an official visit set up for Kentucky at this time, that will happen. Step one was committing. Step two will be immersing him in the Wildcat culture.
With a new offensive coordinator, Liam Coen, taking the reigns of the offense moving forward, Kattus is excited with what he’s seen and heard about Kentucky’s offense.
“I met [Coach Coen] on a Zoom and my parents and I really liked him and we got to watch the offense,” Kattus added. “Brenden said the new offense is awesome as well. From what I’ve heard, Kentucky is going to be a really good team next year.”
The tight ends are expected to be more involved in the Kentucky offense than in years past and Kattus will be an important piece in establishing that area as a threat in the future.
“Something I bring to the table is a different level of physicality,” Kattus continued. “Every coach I’ve talked to has pointed out how physical I am and how hard I play from the run blocking standpoint. But not only that, I’ve been working my butt off from my sophomore year to my junior year. I caught like one ball my sophomore year and then into my junior year I caught somewhere around 40 balls. I think they’ll see a tight end with some good hands and a tight end that’s going to keep improving in the passing game. I’ve obviously improved from sophomore year to junior but I think there’s a lot more room for improvement.”