Stoops still rounding out UK football's 2014 recruiting class

broberts@herald-leader.comJanuary 20, 2014 

National signing day is just a couple of weeks away, and University of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops is still putting the finishing touches on his highly ranked recruiting class of 2014.

Stoops and his coaching staff have already assembled UK's best class of prospects in the age of recruiting rankings. With 24 players committed to the Cats for next season, Rivals.com ranks UK's group as the 14th-best in the country — ahead of such national powers as Oklahoma, Michigan and Southern Cal.

Stoops and company aren't done yet. The UK coach has vowed to sign 28 players to his class, which means adding four more to the current group.

Here's a look at eight recruits who could fill those spots between now and national signing day on Feb. 5.

Matt Elam, defensive tackle: UK's biggest target will make his much-anticipated college announcement on national signing day.

The 6-foot-6, 370-pound prospect is one of the most highly recruited in-state players in years. He took his official visit to Alabama last weekend and will ultimately decide between the Cats and Crimson Tide.

A commitment to UK would give Stoops one more major recruiting victory to wrap up the cycle.

Derrick Kelly, offensive tackle: The one-time UK commitment is still on the program's recruiting board, but he's also wanted by several top schools.

Over the past few weeks, Kelly has picked up offers from Florida State, Florida, Louisiana State and Georgia, among others. Stoops is expected to visit him in Havana, Fla., later this week, and there's still a possibility that Kelly will take an official visit to Lexington before his final decision on Feb. 5.

Josh Krok, offensive tackle: He's currently committed to West Virginia, but that didn't stop Krok from taking an official visit to UK last weekend.

The 6-foot-8 prospect from Niles, Ohio, is considered a three-star player by Rivals.com and UK looks to have a realistic shot at flipping his commitment.

Robert Olson, offensive tackle: A lightly regarded prospect from Eden Prairie, Minn., who has received recent interest from UK as the Cats look to bolster their offensive line.

The 6-foot-5 prospect has no reported offers from BCS programs, but he could be a candidate for a UK offer as signing day approaches.

Randy Ramsey, athlete: The three-star defensive player from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is scheduled to take his official visit to Lexington on Jan. 31.

Ramsey has offers from several BCS-level schools, with N.C. State and Arkansas positioned as possible favorites in his recruitment.

Kendall Randolph, cornerback: A few weeks ago, it looked like the four-star prospect from Tallahassee, Fla., was down to UK and Louisville. Then, Coach Charlie Strong left the Cardinals and Randolph picked up a much-coveted scholarship offer from Oklahoma.

The 5-11 recruit is still scheduled to visit Lexington this weekend, but the Sooners have made a major move in his recruitment. UCLA is also involved, while U of L seems to be out of the picture with Strong's departure.

Jervontius Stallings, center: Stallings is uncommitted and was also on UK's campus for an official visit over the weekend. The 6-4 prospect from Hoover, Ala., is considered a three-star recruit and UK is looking to add at least one offensive lineman to this class.

Stallings is planning to visit Mississippi State — UK's main competition in the recruitment — this weekend.

Lloyd Tubman, defensive end: The other remaining in-state target on UK's wish list looks like more of a long shot to join the Wildcats.

Tubman — a three-star player from Seneca High — decommitted from Vanderbilt after James Franklin left that school for Penn State. A few days later, he committed to the Nittany Lions.

Even so, Tubman took an official visit to UK last weekend and said he won't make a final decision until Feb. 5.

Out of the picture

There are a few other players who looked like possible additions to UK's class in recent weeks but no longer seem to be viable options for the Wildcats.

Ja'Merez Bowen, offensive tackle: The Cleveland native and three-star prospect was seriously considering UK before committing to Cincinnati on Saturday. Bowen seems firm in that commitment.

Kano Dillon, wide receiver/tight end: The 6-5 pass-catcher from Ocala, Fla., has been committed to South Florida but was scheduled to visit UK this weekend. He told USF's 247Sports affiliate Monday that he is now firmly committed to the Bulls and will not take any more visits between now and signing day.

T.J. Harrell, athlete: UK looked like a player for the four-star recruit from Tampa, Fla., following Strong's departure from Louisville. But Harrell hasn't mentioned the Wildcats in recent interviews. U of L remains a top contender, along with a couple of other major schools.

Marcelys Jones, offensive guard: UK's coaches were hoping to flip the four-star prospects's commitment to Ohio State, but the Cleveland native enrolled at OSU as planned earlier this month and is taking classes at the school.

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

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