After a slight break in the action, Kentucky football recruiting is picking up speed.
Kentucky will host dozens of underclassmen for the annual Junior Day when the basketball team hosts Kansas this Saturday. As the focus shifts toward the 2020 class, Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and Co. are in the process of completing the 2019 class on National Signing Day.
The Early Signing Period has removed some of the sheen from the first Wednesday in February. Last year there were really only two prospects, Chris Oats and Xavier Peters, to watch over the final five weeks of the UK recruiting season. After signing 21 players in December, Kentucky does not have too many vacancies left to fill.
Kentucky Football Class of 2019
|MJ Devonshire||CB||Aliquippa, PA||5-11||170||4-star, ..8816|
|Jared Casey||LB||Louisville, KY||6-3||235||4-star, .8958|
|JJ Weaver||OLB||Louisville, KY||6-6||240||4-star, .8937|
|Moses Douglass||S||Springfield, OH||6-2||200||4-star, .8906|
|Javonte Richardson||WR (JUCO)||Maple Heights, OH||6-4||210||3-star, .8838|
|Shawnkel Knight-Goff||OLB/ATH||Louisville, KY||6-4||215||3-star, .8788|
|KD McDaniel||OLB/DE||Tifton, GA||6-3||250||3-star, .8763|
|Travis Tisdale||RB||Voldosta, GA||5-8||165||3-star, .8762|
|Taj Dodson||CB||Fairburn, GA||6-2||180||3-star, .8739|
|Isaiah Gibson||DT||Springfield, OH||6-4||300||3-star, .8722|
|Demontae "TaeTae" Crumes||WR||Louisville, KY||6-1||165||3-star, .8688|
|Marquez Bembry||OLB||Atlanta, GA||6-3||225||3-star, .8669|
|Nik Ognenovic||TE||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||6-5`||235||3-star, .8668|
|Cavon Butler||DT||Toledo, OH||6-3||290||3-star, .8626|
|Brandin Echols||CB (JUCO)||Southaven, MS||6-0||180||3-star, .8602|
|Tra Wilkins||ILB||Stone Mountain, GA||6-2||210||3-star, .8506|
|Jalen Geiger||CB||Columbia, SC||6-0||185||3-star, .8480|
|Nik Scalzo||QB||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||5-11||185||3-star, .8475|
|Amani Gilmore||QB||Amite, LA||6-2||175||3-star, .8431|
|DeMarcus Harris||WR||Vero Beach, FL||6-2||170||3-star, .8398|
|Jake Pope||OT||Ft. Lauderdale, FL||6-7||275||3-star, .8385|
|Eli Cox||OG||Nicholasville, KY||6-4||295||3-star, .8323|
|Eli James||DT (JUCO)||Oswego, IL||6-4||300||3-star, .8217|
|Quandre Mosely||CB||Brunswick, GA||6-1||195||3-star, .89|
Kentucky can sign up to 25 players in the 2019 class. Two JUCO recruits, wide receiver JaVonte Richardson and defensive tackle Elijah James, committed to UK in December but did not sign. I cannot get confirmation, but it’s safe to assume they are out of the picture. Moving forward, Kentucky has prioritized defensive backs and wide receivers. An “under the radar” prospect could commit just before February 6, but first, let’s turn our attention to the big dogs with big UK targets on their backs.
Cornerback | 6-1 | 175 lbs.
Moultrie, GA | Colquitt County
|ESPN||N/A||Top247||No. 267 | 30 CB|
|Rivals||55 CB | 46 GA||247 Comp.||No. 503 | 52 CB|
The four-star cornerback initially committed to Kentucky in June. Following a visit to LSU he re-opened his recruitment in November. Kentucky has remained in touch throughout the ups and downs and it could pay dividends on National Signing Day. The Cats have one more chance to convince Ward to pick UK over LSU when the Georgia native takes an official visit to Lexington on the final weekend before NSD.
Cornerback | 5-11 | 200 lbs.
Leesburg, GA | Lee County
|ESPN||42 ATH | 55 GA||Top247||No. 453 | 36 S|
|Rivals||24 S | 28 GA||247 Comp.||No. 379 | 30 S|
This four-star corner created headlines when he wore UK gloves in his state championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. There was plenty of UK buzz around Robinson following his official visit, but that has shifted toward Auburn and Tennessee after visits to each respective school. Along with South Carolina, Robinson will choose between the four SEC schools on February 6.
Wide Receiver | 6-2 | 215 lbs.
Amite, LA | Amite
|ESPN||No. 242 | 34 WR||Top247||No. 177 | 7 ATH|
|Rivals||No. 126 | 12 ATH||247 Comp.||No. 163 | 6 ATH|
The most recognizable name remaining on UK’s recruiting big board, not much has come from the Top 200 player’s camp since he participated in the Under Armour All-American Game.
Lee officially visited UK with his high school quarterback, Amani Gilmore, in December. The visit transformed UK from long shot to possibility. Kentucky’s early playing time pitch was powerful. Meanwhile, LSU remains the perceived leader. Being an in-state hero is an appealing pitch, but there’s grumblings that the Tigers want him to play defense instead of offense.
Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama are in the mix, but UK is in a position where anything is possible. Ultimately, Lee’s decision will weigh heavily on his official visit to LSU. If the Cats can lock up Lee, it would be the biggest recruiting win over SEC foes in a long time.
|Marlin “MJ” Devonshire
Cornerback | 5-11 | 170 lbs.
Aliquippa, PA | Aliquippa
|ESPN||72 ATH | 12 KY||Top247||63 CB | 14 PA|
|Rivals||32 CB | 6 PA||247 Comp.||50 CB | 9 PA|
A target that recently entered the mix, UK extended a scholarship offer to Devonshire on January 18. The son of a coach is a four-star recruit according to Rivals. Pitt, West Virginia, Ole Miss and Ohio State are Kentucky’s top competition. He’s expected to officially visit UK prior to National Signing Day.
Offensive Tackle | 6-6 | 315 lbs.
Dayton, OH | Dunbar
|ESPN||93 OT | 36 OH||Top247||89 OT | 49 OH|
|Rivals||–| 41 OH||247 Comp.||60 OT | 38 OH|
Unlike the Alabama Jonathan Allen, this Dayton, Ohio native is a pass protector, not a pass rusher. Another prospect that Kentucky began pursuing late in the game, Cincinnati’s early interest in Allen makes the Bearcats the leader. Ohio State, Penn State and Indiana are also involved. Marrow must convince Allen to make a visit prior to NSD to have a chance to secure a commitment.
No matter how many players sign with UK in February, there’s still a good chance Kentucky pulls a few players from the transfer portal at the end of the spring academic semester. Finding top wide receiver prospects at this point of recruiting season is difficult, but there are a few viable options on the transfer market.
La’Michael Pettway will be eligible to play as a grad transfer immediately this fall. Recruited by UK wide receivers coach Michael Smith at Arkansas, Pettway led the Razorbacks in receiving yards in 2018. Juwan Johnson was on the same field as Kentucky this season. After catching a couple of passes in the Citrus Bowl, Penn State’s No. 3 wide receiver announced his intentions to transfer. The 6’4″ wide out has one season of eligibility remaining and can play right away.
Kentucky has plenty of options to fill its 2019 roster. That picture will become much clearer over the next two weeks.