Kentucky recruiting class sizing up nicely with addition of four-star receiver

broberts@herald-leader.comAugust 27, 2013 

  • Four-star players at Kentucky from 2002-13

    2013 (Mark Stoops)

    Player, position Home state

    Jason Hatcher, DE Kentucky

    Marcus McWilson, DB Ohio

    Za'Darius Smith, DE Alabama

    2012 (Joker Phillips)

    Patrick Towles, QB Kentucky

    2011 (Joker Phillips)

    Glenn Faulkner, DB Illinois

    2010 (Joker Phillips)

    Alex Smith, TE Ohio

    2009 (Rich Brooks)

    DeQuin Evans, DE California

    Chris Matthews. WR California

    Ryan Mossakowski, QBTexas

    2008 (Rich Brooks)

    Aaron Boyd, WR Kentucky

    2007 (Rich Brooks)

    D.J. Stafford, DE Georgia

    2006 (Rich Brooks)

    Demetrius Goode, RB Georgia

    Micah Johnson, DE Kentucky

    Corey Peters, DT Kentucky

    2005 (Rich Brooks)

    None

    2004 (Rich Brooks)

    Micah Jones, OL Kentucky

    2003 (Guy Morriss)

    Andre Woodson, QB Kentucky

    2003 (Guy Morriss)

    Yancey Reynolds, OL Georgia

Kentucky's Air Raid 2.0 offense will need some wide receivers to get off the ground.

It doesn't look like that's going to be a problem.

Four-star prospect Blake Bone became the latest high-profile wide receiver to commit to the Wildcats on Tuesday morning, choosing UK over South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisville.

Bone — a 6-foot-5 recruit — is considered by Rivals.com to be the No. 47 wide receiver in the Class of 2014.

More important than his ranking is his size.

Though UK's new coaching staff has successfully brought in talent at the receiver position, the tallest of the 2013 signees was Alex Montgomery, who is listed at 6-2. Thaddeus Snodgrass, at 6-1, was their tallest 2014 commitment. No other 2013 signee or 2014 commitment is taller than 6-0.

Rivals analyst Woody Wommack said Bone will give the Cats a unique threat.

"He's got the one thing that a lot of wide receivers don't have, which is that size," Wommack told the Herald-Leader. "When you have a guy like that, obviously that's what the quarterbacks want. To be able to have a weapon where they can just throw it up and hope that he goes up and gets it.

"He's not a burner in terms of his speed. He's a possession-type receiver and a guy you can look for on big third-down plays. Or in the red zone, especially, where he can just go up and get it."

Bone joins Snodgrass as the second four-star wide receiver commitment so far in UK's Class of 2014. The Wildcats also have pledges from three-star prospects T.V. Williams and Garrett Johnson.

Kentucky probably will add at least one more receiver to that group, which will join a talented quartet of current newcomers for what Mark Stoops and company hope will be a formidable young receiving corps for the future.

Wommack said a player with Bone's attributes is essential for a team with aspirations of winning in the Southeastern Conference.

"We've seen in the SEC with the programs that have had success like Georgia and Alabama, they seem to always have a guy out there on the outside who's 6-4, 6-5," he said. "They can turn to them in the red zone, or when guys are cheating up against the run. They can find a way to get them the ball. I think (UK) did need someone like that in this class. And I think it will help them a lot."

According to Rivals.com, Kentucky now has five four-star commitments at the offensive skill positions — and eight four-stars overall — for the 2014 class. The school has never had more than three four-star signees in the Rivals ratings, which date to 2002. Only once in that span has UK had more than one four-star signee at quarterback, running back or receiver.

Offensive coordinator Neal Brown's Air Raid revival is one reason for the number of talented offensive players flocking to Lexington.

A bigger reason might be the early commitment of Conner quarterback Drew Barker, who is one of those four-star recruits.

"What happens now is schools want to get the quarterback in early," Wommack said. "You get him on board, point to him and tell the receivers, 'Look, this is the guy you're going to be playing with.' And a guy like Barker, a lot of the other recruits like him. He's a nice kid. He can connect well with anyone.

"He's relevant nationally. The guys see him and say, 'Hey, I want to play with him at the next level.' He can reach out to them at camps. He's at every camp, every event trying to get guys on board."

Rivals.com considers Barker the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2014. Scouts and analysts rave about his talent, but it's his personality that's paying off for the Cats right now.

"He's the quarterback. He's the leader," Wommack said. "Guys naturally look to the quarterback. And they look to guys like him that are personable. He's not some quiet, shy guy. Some quarterbacks have to kind of grow into that leadership role. He's already there. He's an alpha-male type guy. Other guys listen when he talks."

Wommack acknowledged that the challenge for the UK coaches — recruiting-wise — over the next few months will be to keep this class together during an SEC schedule that's as challenging as any in the country.

UK has beaten out some blue-blood programs for its top recruits, and those schools won't stop pursuing players just because they're committed to the Cats.

Wommack pointed out that having a player like Barker, who seems as solid a commitment as possible, will be key to keeping the class whole.

As of Tuesday, that class was ranked No. 7 in the country by Rivals. Bone's commitment is just the latest step in the right direction.

"For Kentucky to land a guy like him, it's big. It just shows how much things have changed with the new staff on board," Wommack said. "At this point when I see a kid commit to Kentucky, I'm not surprised."

UK has eight commitments from four-star recruits in the Class of 2014, according to the Rivals.com rankings. The Cats have never had more than three of those in any class dating to 2002:

Drew Barker, QB, Burlington, Ky.: UK's top in-state commitment is considered the No. 6 pro-style quarterback in the class.

Blake Bone, WR, Woodruff, S.C.: 6-foot-5 prospect is the No. 47 receiver in the class; He caught 14 TDs as a junior.

Mikel Horton, RB, West Chester, Ohio: The bruising 230-pounder is considered the No. 12 running back in the class.

Cory Johnson, DT, Chambersburg, Pa.: 247Sports considers him to be the No. 22 overall juco prospect in the nation.

Nick Richardson, OT, Westerville, Ohio: 6-foot-4 prospect is considered a top-25 offensive tackle and No. 8 overall recruit in Ohio.

Thaddeus Snodgrass, WR, Springfield, Ohio: UK's highest-rated wideout — 36th — should make an immediate impact.

Darius West, S, Lima, Ohio: The No. 15 safety in the class and the No. 4 overall prospect from the state of Ohio.

Stanley "Boom" Williams, RB, Bethlehem, Ga.: UK's highest-rated commitment in the Class of 2014 is the No. 2 all-purpose RB in the country.

Ben Roberts


Four-star players at Kentucky from 2002-13

2013 (Mark Stoops)

Player, position Home state

Jason Hatcher, DE Kentucky

Marcus McWilson, DB Ohio

Za'Darius Smith, DE Alabama

2012 (Joker Phillips)

Patrick Towles, QB Kentucky

2011 (Joker Phillips)

Glenn Faulkner, DB Illinois

2010 (Joker Phillips)

Alex Smith, TE Ohio

2009 (Rich Brooks)

DeQuin Evans, DE California

Chris Matthews. WR California

Ryan Mossakowski, QBTexas

2008 (Rich Brooks)

Aaron Boyd, WR Kentucky

2007 (Rich Brooks)

D.J. Stafford, DE Georgia

2006 (Rich Brooks)

Demetrius Goode, RB Georgia

Micah Johnson, DE Kentucky

Corey Peters, DT Kentucky

2005 (Rich Brooks)

None

2004 (Rich Brooks)

Micah Jones, OL Kentucky

2003 (Guy Morriss)

Andre Woodson, QB Kentucky

2003 (Guy Morriss)

Yancey Reynolds, OL Georgia

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats.Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

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