Ninety-one days away from the start of Kentucky football season, Mark Stoops is currently focused on bringing in the best and brightest in the 2020 recruiting class. His 2019 crew will be tasked to fill a few holes left by the talented departing seniors. Here’s who could seamlessly step in right away.
The former high school All-American was almost a part of UK’s 2018 recruiting class. A four-star recruit, Peters was committed to Kentucky for quite some time, until Florida State threw the book at him, enlisting Deion Sanders to recruit the Cincinnati kid.
After a year in Tallahassee, Peters is transferring to Kentucky to be closer to his son. If granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA, Peters is built to be a Jack linebacker (Josh Allen’s former position) in UK’s 3-4 defense. Even though he does not have the experience in Brad White’s system, Peters’ athleticism alone is enough to provide meaningful contributions this fall.
Kentucky NEEDS cornerbacks. After leaning on Chris Westry, Derrick Baity and Lonnie Johnson for years, Stoops went to junior college to find formidable replacements. This spring Echols was the most consistent cornerback. Standing six-feet tall, he does not have the same size as his predecessors, but he makes up for that with natural instincts.
Opponents will attack UK’s edges all season long. Echols’ hard-nosed mentality can make a significant difference, especially if that mentality becomes infectious.
Unlike Peters, this four-star outside linebacker has a session of spring practice under his belt in Brad White’s system. J.J. Weaver does not have that experience, nor does Marquez Bembry, the talented junior college edge who was sidelined by a knee injury this spring. Jordan Wright made a statement in the spring game, but if he doesn’t bring it consistently, there are plenty of players prepared to fill his position.
There were a handful of cornerbacks who showed flashes throughout spring practice. They could be the “other guys” to Echols, but I have a feeling it’s going to be Devonshire. Not only does he have the speed to keep up in the SEC, he’s physical at the point of attack. One of only two players UK signed in February, Devonshire was one of Vince Marrow’s primary targets for a reason.
Eddie Gran has three excellent running backs in his arsenal — A.J. Rose, Kavosiey Smoke and Chris Rodriguez — but he’ll make room for Travis Tisdale. As the son of a military man, Tisdale will bring a Benny Snell-esque hard working mentality on day one. Incredibly fast on the edge, the playmaker can take it to the house anytime he touches the ball. You can’t keep that kind of ability on the sideline for long.