Update: Less than an hour after this story was initially published, Samuel Anaele (No. 5 DE, No. 96 overall) committed to Kentucky, the second four-star commitment of the day. Not too shabby.
The month of June was kind to Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow.
The Cats entered the month with four football commitments. After a week of camps, three weeks of official visitors and the efforts of a talented quarterback and his future teammates, Kentucky has the
No. 25 No. 20 recruiting class in America according to Rivals. Four of the 12 Five of the 13 commitments are ranked as four-star prospects by at least one recruiting service.
Things will begin to slow down on the football recruiting front as we enter the month of July and high school football practices begin across the country. Here’s how Kentucky reached this point and who could be next.
Kentucky began the month of June with a solid foundation to build its class. The Cats had a talented offensive lineman from Louisville, four-star offense tackle John Young, and a four-star quarterback who lived just minutes from campus, Beau Allen. When talented recruits officially visited and camped in Lexington, the commits were there to make the pitch. Jordan Watkins was one of the first high profile recruits to camp at Kentucky. He caught passes from Allen and was guarded by future UK cornerback Andru Phillips.
The team effort made dominos fall. The night Watkins camped in Lexington, running back Torrance Davis committed to UK. Less than 24 hours later, running back JuTahn McClain rolled the dice. Three days later, Georgia linebacker D’Eryk Jackson became Jon Sumrall’s first commitment. Sumrall’s second Yahtzee came two weeks later during the biggest weekend of the summer.
Alabama offensive lineman Joshua Jones started off the Saturday hot. Before the weekend ended, three wide receivers pledged their allegiance to UK — Michigan’s Earnest Sanders, Louisville’s Watkins and Izayah Cummings. The final addition to the wide receivers room in the 2020 class happened Monday evening when Kalil Branham announced his commitment. Recruiting receivers is much easier when they know the quarterback they’ll be catching passes from in the future.
Kentucky Football Class of 2020
|Justin Rogers||DT||Oak Park, MI||6-4||315||5-star, #16 Overall|
|Samuel Anaele||DE/OLB||Miami, FL||6-4||250||4-star, #208 Overall|
|Michael Drennen II||APB||Dublin, OH||5-11||190||4-star, #210 Overall|
|Beau Allen||QB||Lexington, KY||6-2||200||4-star, #13 QB|
|R.J. Adams||OG||Woodbridge, VA||6-3||320||4-star, #16 OG|
|John Young||OT||Louisville, KY||6-6||295||4-star, #36 OT|
|Tre'vonn Rybka||DL||Dickson, TN||6-4`||281||4-star, #26 DT|
|Octavious Oxendine||DT||Radcliff, KY||6-3||300||4-star, #30 DT|
|Josaih Hayes||DT||Horn Lake, MS||6-3||285||4-star, #151 Overall|
|Joey Gatewood||QB (Auburn)||Jacksonville, FL||6-5||230||4-star, #49 Overall|
|Jeremy Flax||OT (JUCO)||Dearborn, MI||6-6||315||4-star, No. 12 JUCO|
|Joel Williams||DB||Baton Rouge, LA||6-1||190||3-star, #34 S|
|Andru Phillips||CB||Mauldin, SC||6-0||180||3-star, #7 CB|
|JuTahn McClain||APB||Fairfield, OH||5-9||176||3-star, #14 APB|
|Vito Tisdale||DB||Bowling Green, KY||6-2||190||3-star, #10 KY|
|Kalil Branham||WR||Columbus, OH||6-1||205||3-star, #93 WR|
|Deondre Buford||OT||Detroit, MI||6-5||270||3-star, #48 OT|
|Izayah Cummings||WR||Louisville, KY||6-3||210||3-star, #9 KY|
|Earnest Sanders||WR||Flint, MI||6-2||190||3-star, #26 MI|
|D'Eryk Jackson||LB||Dexter, GA||6-2||235||3-star, #106 GA|
|Joshua Jones||OT||Phenix City, AL||6-6||300||3-star, #32 AL|
|Carrington Valentine||CB||Cincinnati, OH||6-0||218||3-star, #23 OH|
|Rickey Hyatt Jr.||S||Westerville, OH||6-1||195||3-star, #22 OH|
Off the Board
When Kentucky missed, they missed with the best and brightest.
There were four different four-star prospects who narrowed their choices to Kentucky and one other school. Defensive tackle Dallas Walker (Texas Ranger) chose Texas A&M over UK, cornerback Enzo Jennings picked Penn State over Kentucky, Birmingham linebacker Quandarrius Robinson yelled Roll Tide and offensive lineman Chris Mayo took country roads to West Virginia. Kentucky put themselves in a position to win, but you can’t win them all.
Another four-star recruit, outside linebacker Romello Height, declared Kentucky his favorite after officially visiting UK and Miami. Two weeks later, he changed his mind and committed to The U, with a caveat — Height is still open to visit other schools. Kentucky’s pursuit of Height may not be complete.
The University of Louisville is engaged with a few former UK targets. Josh Minkins, a Ballard defensive back and Louisville legacy recruit, committed shortly after camping with Kentucky. There were no hard feelings after his performance in Lexington. The Cards are now heavily pursuing Jaheim Thomas, a four-star Cincinnati linebacker, who revealed last week the Cats have moved on.
Who’s Up Next?
If you plan on taking a long, four-day weekend to celebrate the Fourth of July, you might also have a UK football commitment to celebrate. Friday evening on July 5th, offensive lineman Richie Leonard will announce his college decision. Leonard was one of UK’s first commitments in the 2020 class, but reopened his recruitment when the major players in his home state of Florida got involved. Florida State, Tennessee, Miami, Florida, UCF and Georgia Tech are also finalists. The chances he rolls the dice are promising.
Leonard isn’t the only Florida native in UK’s crosshairs. Nigerian-born pass rusher Samuel Anaele recently decommitted from his hometown team of Miami. Kentucky is the favorite moving forward, although a timetable on his decision is unclear.
Narrator: “It’s now clear.”
The two biggest uncommitted targets within the Commonwealth — North Hardin four-star defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine and Bowling Green four-star safety Vito Tisdale — are not expected to make a decision anytime soon. Frequent flyers to Lexington, UK is in a good spot for each elite defender.
Kentucky will end up having room for about 20 prospects. The final spots will be set aside for a defensive back or two, then the best players available. JUCO cornerback Marco Domio and defensive back Carrington Valentine have already officially visited. Offensive tackle Deondre Buford has as well; a commitment would give UK three from the state of Michigan in the 2020 class. Potentially the biggest piece left of the puzzle is Michael Drennen. Kentucky has commitments from six WRs/RBs, but they would make room for one of the best overall athletes in America.