Less than two weeks away from the beginning of the early signing period, Mark Stoops’ staff is putting on the finishing touches on a 2020 recruiting class that will ultimately finish as the highest-ranked recruiting class in school history.
Currently sitting at No. 24 in 247 and No. 23 in the Rivals rankings, the Wildcats currently have 16 commitments. Technically, UK will count 17 with the addition of Joey Gatewood, but recruiting rankings don’t account for transfers. As for numbers, they still have room to add up to six or seven more players, all of which would be four-star recruits.
Entering the 2019 season, many feared UK would not be able to capitalize on the Citrus Bowl recruiting momentum with only 11 departing seniors. That’s not the case. There will be enough attrition to make way for about a 24-player class. Here are the top candidates to complete the class, many of which will not decide until the Early Signing Period begins Dec. 18.
A four-star defensive back from Baton Rouge, Williams was previously committed to Florida. Ranked by Rivals as the No. 26 safety, he could follow Kelvin Joseph, a.k.a BossManFat, to create a pipeline of defensive backs to UK. Michael Smith has already made the next step to continue that into the 2021 class, offering Williams’ Madison Prep teammate, cornerback Tyrell Raby, last week.
Williams backed off his commitment to Florida shortly after Alabama got in the mix and offered him a scholarship at their camp in Tuscaloosa. He officially visited Alabama for the LSU game a few weeks after officially visiting UK. Despite the Crimson Tide’s interest, the tide began to turn toward UK in Williams’ recruitment about two weeks ago. Kentucky is the team to beat when Williams chooses between the Cats, Alabama, LSU, Florida, Auburn and Georgia on Dec. 17.
Ronald Williams II
Kentucky is recruiting two Williamses from Louisiana. This one is currently attending Hutch C..C in Kansas. When UK invited him to Lexington for an official visit, he had just picked up a couple of SEC offers. When he left Lexington after the Missouri game he had offers from Alabama, Oklahoma, Auburn and Tennessee. He’s since hosted Vince Marrow for a visit and taken official visits to A&M, Miss. State and Alabama, the team to beat in this recruitment.
Just so we’re clear, UK has reached a point where the Cats are taking Alabama to a draw when competing for Louisiana cornerbacks.
****Of course, don’t let me get any further without saying that things can dramatically change between now and the Early Signing Period. That’s why the ESP has helped UK; there’s less time for recruits to change their minds before NSD.
If I talked to you a couple weeks ago, I’d feel pretty great about Kentucky’s chances to land the four-star offensive guard. Now… let’s just say I don’t like to see other schools get one last shot to make a great impression.
The No. 12 offensive guard in America according to Rivals, Brad White is the primary recruiter for the DMV product. Adams was committed to Penn State when he officially visited Lexington for the Florida game. He de-committed three days later. Since that fateful trip, he’s returned once for an unofficial to see the Cats roll UT Martin in the rain. The following week he was in Raleigh to visit another finalist, N.C. State. It’s the only other school that’s officially hosted Adams.
Adams will announce his decision Dec. 18. The eight finalists are UK, N.C. State, Penn State, Alabama, Tennessee, LSU, Florida State and Miami. The Wolf Pack will use the next week to make a final push to convince Adams to turn down Kentucky.
— Rj Adams ?? (@exclusivejaayy) November 24, 2019
Ranked as a four-star recruit by Rivals, this JUCO offensive tackle is originally from Detroit. Flax recently visited Arizona and Auburn. Texas Tech is also in the mix. Flax tentatively plans on officially visiting UK this weekend, yet I cannot currently confirm that it’s happening. You’ll have to stay tuned. As of right now, Flax feels like a “break glass in case of emergency” recruit if Adams ends up not picking UK.
This Alabama defensive tackle camped with UK over the summer. Kentucky is one of his four finalists, but it’s just to put a hat on the table. The three-star prospect will end up at Tennessee. This defensive linemen isn’t one of the big ones up for grabs.
ILL BE COMMITTING ON DECEMBER18 STAY TUNED??
TOP 4 (NOT IN ORDER) pic.twitter.com/5CG23A71kV
— Reginald Perry?? (@GOATKIID5) December 9, 2019
The former Ole Miss commit was in Lexington over the weekend for an official visit. Recruited by Jon Sumrall, Hayes is the No. 160 prospect in America according to Rivals. As expected, the early whispers from Lexington are that the visit “went well.” How well? Maybe well enough to win over the recruit, maybe not. Lane Kiffin will likely get a chance to make a pitch before Hayes makes a decision Dec. 18. Memphis, Miss. State and Auburn are also finalists.
This will go down as one of the most suspenseful recruitments of the Stoops era. There are so many moving parts to the four-star defensive end’s recruitment. Ranked as the No. 6 DE in the country and No. 108 player overall by Rivals, it’s all coming down to Kentucky and Tennessee.
Tennessee has an advantage that is a wild card. Baron’s father works on Jeremy Pruitt’s staff in an administrative position. It’s one thing to play high school football with a couple of future Vols — two of his Knoxville Catholic teammates are staying in Knoxville — but it’s another thing when your dad is on the school’s payroll.
Baron has become well-accustomed to making the trip up I-75 over the last six months. He officially visited Kentucky for the Florida game, then returned to Lexington for an unofficial when Tennessee came to town. The day after that visit, he Tweeted this:
I think I’ve made my decision ?
— Tyler Baron (@Tylerbaron23) November 10, 2019
Everyone I spoke to around the program felt confident about Baron after that visit… but there’s that one big “But” on Pruitt’s staff. This could be a case where the player wants to go to Kentucky, but the family wants him to stay in Knoxville. Tennessee message boarders believe Baron has been locked in to Tennessee for months and is just stringing along Kentucky just to jab a knife into the Wildcats. We will not know the truth until Baron signs on the dotted line Dec. 18.
Tennessee is also Kentucky’s top competition for an in-state recruit, four-star North Hardin defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine. The No. 24 interior defensive lineman best known simply as ‘Ox’ kept his recruitment quiet, until about a month ago when I started hearing good things for the Wildcats. Over the last week we’ve heard more and more UK buzz. Not long after his coach Tweeted, “I know the school, great choice,” Dave Lackford and a bunch of others in the know predicted Ox to UK. He’ll reveal his final decision Dec. 18 at 3:45 in a ceremony at North Hardin.
This weekend Ox was spotted in Lexington at Kroger Field hanging out with John Schlarman at the state championship games. He was not the only big-time player in the stands. Beau Allen was also there, taking in the action next to Mark Stoops during the 6A championship between Trinity and Male that featured another future Cat, Izayah Cummings.
Let me use this time to talk about how much I enjoy watching Izayah Cummings knock the hell out of opponents. You won’t find many outside receivers more physical than that dude. I’m excited to see what he’ll do at UK.
Like Ox, this in-state recruit has kept things quiet. Almost nothing has come directly from the camp of the four-star Bowling Green defensive back. Like Ox, it’s not necessarily bad news for Kentucky. The early visits appear to have worked wonders. I’d be shocked if he does not pick up a Kentucky hat when he makes his decision on national television at the All-American Bowl on Jan. 4.
It’s hard for me to get a read on this four-star wide receiver from Georgia. A talented athlete with incredible tape, Calloway has been committed to Tennessee for months but has never been ‘all in’ with the Vols. Recruited by Tee Martin, last weekend he was in Lexington for an official visit. He celebrated the occasion by picking up an offer from Florida Monday afternoon. Where Calloway ends up will likely depend on which direction the wind is blowing Dec. 18.
Mike Drennen II
The plug-and-play future superstar might be UK’s most important prospect left on the board. After whiffing on Wan’Dale Robinson, there’s no heir apparent Lynn Bowden in 2020. A man that goes by Donut could fill that roll (That’s not a typo, that’s a pun).
A four-star all-purpose back from Dublin, Oh., he’s another recruit that has kept things quiet throughout the process. Kentucky was one of the first in his ear and they’ve been a mainstay the entire time. That bodes well for the Cats, even though he spent last weekend at USC and is visiting Florida this upcoming weekend. Most believe he’ll wait until NSD to make an announcement, but I’ve been told to expect a decision during the Early Signing Period.
I have never made a recruiting prediction on Kentucky Sports Radio dot com, however, I’m willing to try something new for the people. As of today, here’s who I believe will commit to UK:
— Vito Tisdale
— Octavious Oxendine
— R.J. Adams
— Joel Williams
— Michael Drennen II
Hayes and Baron could easily join that crew. Plenty can happen over the next ten days to give me more confidence that UK can land two more four-star wild cards, ultimately pushing UK’s 2020 class up to more than ten four-star commitments.