Riding a wave of recruiting momentum, Kentucky is trying to capitalize with one of the Commonwealth’s top-ranked athletes.
In 2018 wide receiver Izayah Cummings earned all-state honors after helping Louisville Male High School win the 6A State Championship. Even though he missed five games with a knee injury, Cummings finished the season with 41 receptions for 597 yards and 11 touchdowns, including three catches in the 37-20 victory over Scott County at Kroger Field.
“It was unbelievable. It was crazy. There was nothing like it. I loved the experience. I can’t wait to do it again,” Cummings described the state championship victory to KSR. “It was awesome playing on that turf on the Kentucky field.”
Cummings plans on playing at Kroger Field in this year’s state final. If Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and Beau Allen have their way, it will not be Cummings’ last appearance on the stadium’s turf.
Considered the No. 6 player in the state of Kentucky by the 247 Composite Rankings, the lengthy 6’3″200-pound three-star wide receiver has narrowed his list to six: Louisville, Virginia, Wake Forest, Purdue West Virginia and Kentucky. Who’s recruiting him the hardest?
“I would say Kentucky is coming the hardest. Coach Marrow and them are just trying to make the 2020 class big,” he said.
Kentucky’s recruiting efforts have intensified following a rash of commitments in the month of April. Most of the heat is coming from his peers.
“It’s crazy because those people I actually know. They’ll contact me like, ‘Hey, you trying to come over and join the Kentucky class and make it great?’ Beau Allen texts me like everyday trying to see when I’m coming up [for a visit].”
A pair of Louisville natives, offensive tackle John Young and defensive back Andru Phillips, are also in constant contact with Cummings. Before his family moved to South Carolina, Phillips and Cummings used to compete against each other quite a bit in middle school. As for Allen, Cummings has caught a few passes from the future UK quarterback.
“I camped with him, he threw me a couple balls,” Cummings said. “He’s good, he’s really good.”
Unfortunately, a hamstring injury will prevent Cummings from catching more passes from Allen at this weekend’s Kentucky football camps. He has not yet given Allen or the coaching staff a specific date for an official visit, but that will happen later this summer. Once Cummings is healthy enough to play, he’s not shy about his ability.
“When I’m healthy, I’m unstoppable. No one can guard me at all. I’m just a big threat, whether it’s route-running, deep balls — when the ball goes up there, I come down with it.”
Year 4 Coming Soon….? pic.twitter.com/NLCg1ddEM1
— IC8? (@IzayahCummings) June 1, 2019
The receiver’s mentality is not so different from the Big Dog’s “boss-man” mentality. Cummings could not quite put a finger on specifically what makes him such a good recruiter, but he did have a decent impression of Marrow.
“He’s like, ‘Come down here man, I’m telling you,'” Cummings said with a deep, gruff voice and a smile. “I know coach. I’m just trying to process everything to make sure it’s the best decision for me and my family.”
What will make Marrow’s job slightly more difficult is the school in Cummings’ backyard. His parents both attended the University of Louisville and Izayah grew up cheering for the Cards when the Bush-Brohm show was steamrolling through the Big East. Fast forward a decade, and things are completely different around the Commonwealth. Kentucky’s success last fall opened Cummings’ eyes.
“I don’t think anyone thought it would happen like that. People always expect UK to be a basketball school, not like a football school. Watching what happened this year, man, it could be something special.”
Kentucky’s ten wins were won on the shoulders of an excellent defense and a powerful rushing attack. Jeff Brohm and Neal Brown’s offenses typically provide more aerial firepower, but that will not remove UK from contention as long as Beau Allen is in Kentucky blue and white.
“It can worry you a little bit because I might not get the ball as much as I want, but if you have great quarterbacks for the class…I might take a shot for it. You never know, I might be able to make some plays for the team.”
If Cummings takes a shot and picks Kentucky, it will not likely happen in the immediate future. The talented wide receiver is eyeing a decision later this summer just ahead of his senior season. Until then, the Big Dog and Beau will continually remind Cummings that he can be a part of something special in Lexington.