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Where UK Football Stands with Kentucky’s Top In-State Football Prospects


Marrow with Frankfort’s Wandale Robinson (@Robinson_era)

The state of Kentucky is not well-known for producing top high school football talent, but the class of 2019 features five consensus Top 300 players.  It’s not a top-heavy class either.  Two of the next six players in the 247 Composite Rankings are considered four-star prospects by at least one recruiting service.

Over the last two months, Mark Stoops reassigned Vince Marrow to recruit the state of Kentucky.  Marrow’s addition gave Kentucky quite a bit of momentum entering the summer.  Here’s where UK currently stands for the state’s top ten eleven football prospects according to the 247 Composite Rankings.

Stephen Herron  
Defensive End | 6-4 | 235 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Trinity
Committed to: Michigan 
ESPN No. 137| 14 DE Top 247 No. 140 | 9 DE
Rivals No. 51| 4 DE 247 Comp. No. 83 WR | 6 DE

The top-ranked player in the state visited Kentucky multiple times before committing to Michigan 11 months ago.

Jacob Lacey
Defensive Tackle | 6-2 | 300 lbs.
Bowling Green, Ky. | South Warren
Committed to: Notre Dame
ESPN No. 116| 14 DT Top 247 No. 119 | 7 DT
Rivals 18 DT| 2 KY 247 Comp. No. 142 | 9 DT

Lacey had a scholarship offer from Kentucky, but the Cats were never really in the picture.  He committed to Notre Dame on the same day Herron committed to Michigan, July 29, 2017.

Milton Wright  
Athlete | 6-3 | 190 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Christian Academy of Louisville
Committed to: Undecided
ESPN No. 274 | 44 WR Top 247 No. 54 | 3 ATH
Rivals No. 188 | 33 WR 247 Comp. No. 149 | 12 ATH

The No. 3 player in the state has kept his recruitment close to the vest.  We know his top five — Ohio State, Alabama, Purdue, Kentucky and Louisville — but everything else remains a mystery.  A receiver at the next level, Wright could pick any of the five schools and it would not be a surprise.

Bryan Hudson  
Offensive Lineman | 6-4 | 295 lbs.
Georgetown, Ky. | Scott County
Committed to: Virginia Tech
ESPN No. 250 | 13 OG Top 247 No. 184 | 8 OG
Rivals No. 242 | 25 OT 247 Comp. No. 214 | 10 OG

Kentucky extended the three-sport star a scholarship offer during his freshman season, but Hudson was set on attending college outside of the Commonwealth, ultimately choosing Virginia Tech in April.

Tanner Bowles 
Offensive Tackle | 6-5 | 280 lbs.
Glasgow, Ky. | Glasgow
Committed to: Alabama
ESPN No. 217 | 23 OT Top 247 No. 146 | 19 OT
Rivals 53 OT| 6 KY 247 Comp. No. 250 | 27 OT

Kentucky was Bowles’ first offer, but that didn’t matter after he attended Alabama’s Spring Game.  Bowles committed the day after unofficially visiting Tuscaloosa for A-Day.

Jared  Casey 
Inside Linebacker | 6-3 | 220 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Ballard
Committed to: Undecided
ESPN — | — Top 247 20 ILB | 8 KY
Rivals — | — 247 Comp. 18 ILB | 6 KY

After an injury forced him to miss his junior season, Casey surged onto the recruiting season at Rivals’ Nashville Three Stripes Camp.  After earning MVP honors, he picked up scholarship offers from anybody and everybody.  He’s visited Kentucky twice since Vince Marrow extended a scholarship offer, but Louisville, his favorite team as a child, appears to be in the lead.

JJ Weaver 
Defensive End | 6-6 | 235 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Moore Traditional
Committed to: Undecided
ESPN 52 DE| 7 KY Top 247 21 DE | 6 KY
Rivals — | 8 KY 247 Comp. 35 DE | 7 KY

Weaver gave rave reviews after he visited Kentucky for the first time last month, but he’s since visited Louisville and taken an official visit to Purdue.  Those trips have put Kentucky back behind the 8-ball for the Louisville athlete that grew up in Florida.

Shawnkel Knight-Goff 
Outside Linebacker | 6-4 | 215 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Doss
Committed to: Undecided
ESPN 54 DE| 11 KY Top 247 47 DE | 9 KY
Rivals 33 DE | 5 KY 247 Comp. 44 DE | 8 KY

Knight-Goff committed to Kentucky on May 18, only to reopen his recruitment less than two weeks later on May 31.  Kentucky is still an option as Louisville tries to steal the Cats’ former commit.

Demontae “TaeTae” Crumes  
Wide Receiver | 6-1 | 165 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Butler Traditional
Committed to: Undecided
ESPN –| — Top 247 93 WR | 11 KY
Rivals –| — 247 Comp. 79 WR | 9 KY

Crumes pulled a reverse-Knight-Goff.  After committing to UofL in February, he de-committed in April.  Crumes made the move after UK, Oregon, Michigan State and Michigan extended scholarship offers.

Wandale Robinson  
All-Purpose Back | 5-9 | 180 lbs.
Frankfort, Ky. | Western Hills
Committed to: Undecided
ESPN 35 ATH| 6 KY Top 247 5 APB | 7 KY
Rivals — | 9 KY 247 Comp. 5 APB | 10 KY

Robinson is at the top of UK’s recruiting board for in-state prospects.  After an unofficial visit last month, it appeared that UK made a move to the top as Robinson neared a decision.  Then Ohio State offered.  The Buckeyes’ move, and an official visit to Purdue, completely opened up Robinson’s recruitment and pushed Kentucky back with the rest of the pack.

Aidan Robbins 
Running Back/Linebacker | 6-3 | 225 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | DuPont Manual
Committed to: Undecided
ESPN 40 ATH| 8 KY Top 247 47 RB | 10 KY
Rivals — | 10 KY 247 Comp. 51 RB | 11 KY

Once considered a lock at Vanderbilt, Vince Marrow changed the game by pitching Robbins the opportunity to play either running back or linebacker.  He scheduled an official visit to Kentucky for June 22, after official visits to Purdue and Missouri.  A day after returning from Mizzou, Robbins announced he will commit Wednesday afternoon.  That’s not a good omen for Kentucky.

Kentucky stuck with the early offer strategy that’s worked before for in-state recruits.  When that did not work, Vince Marrow entered the picture and moved the needle in recruiting battles with Louisville.  After temporary gains, Purdue and Ohio State have emerged as the most-credible foreign threats to Kentucky’s in-state recruiting success.


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

18 Comments for Where UK Football Stands with Kentucky’s Top In-State Football Prospects

  1. ClutchCargo
    10:14 am June 12, 2018 Permalink

    Well, that was depressing.

  2. Wade
    10:20 am June 12, 2018 Permalink

    Kinda was huh, nobody seems to love the cats in the bluegrass state… crazy to think that but I think we land some of those guys and maybe we can find some gems out there at dt bc that is where we need to improve at. All the guys left on the list are receivers and lb I think one possible de. We need dt. Find some monsters, stock up, rotate them them in and out and get after the qb.

    • Rembrandt
      11:16 am June 12, 2018 Permalink

      Roush did not mention Eli Cox, who is committed to UK but apparently not worthy of discussion here. We have known for some time what Herron, Lacey, Hudson, and Bowles are going to do, so this isn’t news. Of those, Bowles was the only surprise and he picked the national champions. As far as the other players are concerned, where UK stands with all of them is presented here in terms of Roush’s opinion. Maybe he is right, maybe not. But it’s likely that some of them will sign with UK. In the final analysis, the quality of this class has less to do with where the various players grew up, and much more to do with how well they play football as collegians. I have some potential concerns about this class, but they have nothing to do with what is discussed here. Just sign a bunch more athletic linemen and receivers and my concerns will disappear. I don’t care where they are from, as long as our coaches want them and they want to work their butts off to be good SEC football players.

    • Wade
      11:41 am June 12, 2018 Permalink

      M just sayin it doesn’t seem Kentucky kids grow up bleeding football blue .we need to turn that around and it starts with the parents starting handing your kids basketballs and footballs as baby’s lets make uk football great again….

    • Nick Roush
      2:24 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

      I was asked to write about the Top Ten prospects in the state. I threw in Robbins because of his timely decision. Eli Cox is ranked 17th.

    • Rembrandt
      5:51 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

      And like I said. Robbins is worthy of discussion here but Cox isn’t. Seven of the eleven players discussed in this article haven’t made a decision. None of us knows what those seven players will decide.

      This might be a strong class. Or not. But I don’t care where the members of UK’s class grew up. I care how well they play college football.

  3. Rembrandt
    10:51 am June 12, 2018 Permalink

    With Marrow recruiting Kentucky, who is recruiting Ohio for us now? Seems like momentum up there stopped after Douglass committed.

    • Brutal Hustler
      11:28 am June 12, 2018 Permalink

      He’s probably still recruiting Ohio as well. He’s the TE Coach, all of our TE’s are currently hurt, he’s got plenty of time to recruit up and down I-75

  4. kybigblue
    11:32 am June 12, 2018 Permalink

    Stoops is a better recruiter than Joker but he doesn’t compare well with most of the SEC schools. If we don’t break the 7-5 mark this year our future recruiting will most likely struggle. He may have his best talent this year so I’m hoping we can do more than just make it to a bowl game. About 60% of the Div. 1 schools go bowling. I see where the PAC woulldn’t allow schools with a losing record to go bowling.. Hope all of the power 5 conferences will do the same. Sad there aren’t even enough teams 6-6 or better to fill all of the bowl slots.

  5. kjd
    12:39 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

    Recruiting will continue to be a struggle as long as UK produces 6-7 win seasons.
    We have not been really good on either side of the ball.
    Stoops has been here long enough now that the be a part of something special doesn’t work. Special should be happening now, and it’s not.
    It is imperative that significant improvement is seen this season. We need to see some home field dominance of lesser teams on our schedule. We have to be competitive with the better opponents.
    This will advance recruiting.

    • Wade
      1:36 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

      We’re right where we need to be. For now we have a shot to trend up so let’s think positive . I know all the negatives,so let’s save it. This is the sec and uk is the hardest turnaround of all and we’re doing it if you ask me .it’s a 10 yr thing not 5 and whoever said 5 yrs is stupid this is our normal ceiling and we’re not gonna crash through it but just getting in the attic is ok with me. For now. 7 wins regularly go cats!!!!

    • cats646
      2:56 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

      I’m right there with you wade. Except I say 7-9 wins regularly. Hopefully this will be a big year.

    • Rembrandt
      5:57 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

      I think Wade is right. But I also think Stoops has spent five years building the opportunity he will have in 2018, and he must take advantage now. My best guess would be that UK football breaks out this year. I expect it, so I am optimistic. But if it doesn’t happen now, then the narrative turns around. The time is now.

    • UoKFB PHAN
      9:34 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

      I’m with KJD, the Cats will struggle to climb the SEC recruiting ladder with continual 7 win seasons. I don’t think anyone – players, the coaching staff, or fans – should settle for 7 win seasons going forward. Last year I really, really thought before the start of the season we would go 8 – 4 in the regular season so I’m going to take a a wait-and-see approach this year. I think Rembrandt is correct…the time is now. If Stoops and company don’t breakout (to me that is 9 wins) then the narrative, and more importantly, recruiting will start turning in the wrong direction.

  6. Catcasey1
    1:30 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

    Y play for stoops??????

    • cats646
      3:04 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

      Because he has successfully put this program on the rise, so far. He has taken this program, which we can all agree was garbage 6-8 years ago, and made us into a team that can compete against any football team. And we’re in the SEC!!!! He has already had two seven win seasons. Rich Brookes had 1 and we act like he is a legend. Yes Stoops has made a few mistakes that costed us some big games. But what coach hasn’t?? Everyone seems to forget that we were 45 point underdogs to our rivals and beat them with there precious hiesman winner. Nick Saban probably wouldn’t even have done this good so far at Kentucky. You can’t turn a crap program into a championship caliber team in 5 years. The time will come if we keep Stoops. I guarantee it. Go big blue!!!!!! # 9 win season

    • Rembrandt
      6:01 pm June 12, 2018 Permalink

      The question “why play for ____” can be asked about any college football program. Every year, Stoops signs a full class, so a bunch of UK players know the answer to the question. For those fans who haven’t figured out the answer, I don’t understand why they are commenting.