Warren East's Eli Brown commits to Cats

broberts@herald-leader.comApril 21, 2014 

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops scored one of his biggest recruiting victories yet Monday night.

Warren East linebacker Eli Brown announced his commitment to the Wildcats just five days before he is expected to visit Lexington for the program's Blue-White Game.

Rivals.com ranks Brown as the No. 8 outside linebacker and No. 110 overall prospect in the class of 2015. He is the No. 2 player in the state behind Madison Southern running back Damien Harris, another UK recruiting target.

Rivals analyst Josh Helmholdt told the Herald-Leader that Brown has some things to work on during the summer and his senior season, but that he's already one of the best linebackers in high school football.

"He has great size for that linebacker position — a guy who has good range, so he can play in space. But he can also rush the passer," Helmholdt said. "He's got plenty of things that you can't teach. He has good speed, great size and a good nose for the football."

Helmholdt said that if Brown can add a little more athleticism and improve his change-of-direction defense, his stock will only continue to rise.

That stock is already off the charts by Kentucky's standards.

The class of 2014 was UK's best ever in the era of recruiting rankings. The most highly touted player in that group, according to Rivals, was Georgia running back Stanley "Boom" Williams, who was considered the No. 118 prospect in the class. Brown is ranked eight spots higher than Williams.

Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247Sports all consider him a four-star prospect.

That status attracted some of the top programs in college football.

Brown was previously committed to Vanderbilt when James Franklin was coaching the Commodores, but he backed out of that pledge last fall. Helmholdt said that Brown told him he decided to re-open his recruitment after a visit to Ohio State, which was thought to be UK's top competition for the in-state star.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound prospect also has reported scholarship offers from Southern Cal, Ole Miss and Penn State, the school where Franklin is now head coach.

Helmholdt, who spoke to the Herald-Leader before Brown's announcement Monday, put a possible commitment to UK in perspective.

"If they get him, it's going to be another huge statement," he said.

The recruiting analyst also predicted that Brown's recruitment would probably last until the end of the 2015 cycle. He will not be able to sign with Kentucky until February, giving Ohio State and other schools plenty of time to flip his commitment.

"It'll be a battle," Helmholdt said. "All the way to the end."

Brown is the latest Kentucky high school star whom Stoops and his coaching staff have been able to keep home in a little more than a year on the job. Ryan Timmons, Jason Hatcher, Drew Barker, Matt Elam and Lloyd Tubman all earned four-star status from at least one major recruiting service, and all of them signed with the Wildcats.

Of those players, Brown is ranked the highest by Rivals.com.

Kentucky now has five commitments for the class of 2015. Brown joins Henderson County offensive lineman Mason Wolfe as the second in-state player to commit to the Cats for next year.

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

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