Several highly rated recruits visit Kentucky for spring game

broberts@herald-leader.comApril 26, 2014 

FBO Matt Elam

Matt Elam, a 6-foot-5, 380-pound defensive lineman from John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, smiled as he answered questions Thursday about his choice to play for Kentucky instead of SEC power Alabama.

TIMOTHY D. EASLEY — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

Once the Cat Walk wound its way into Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, it was time to do a little recruiting.

Mark Stoops and the rest of the Kentucky football coaches spent the last hour or so before the Blue-White Spring Game hobnobbing with visiting recruits and their families out on the field.

Stoops and his assistants posed for photos and talked to parents as they tried to nail down another top-20 recruiting class for 2015.

They had an impressive group in Lexington on Saturday.

Madison Southern's Damien Harris — the No. 1 running back in the country — skipped a high-profile Rivals camp in Ohio to be at UK's spring game.

Ohio offensive lineman Larry Wells — one of the Cats' five commitments for 2015 — was also there.

Others out on the field before the scrimmage were Florida offensive lineman Luke Hiers, Maryland defensive end Darius Fullwood, Ohio linebacker Marquise Copeland, Ohio running back C.J. Amill, Virginia wide receiver Gary Jennings and many more recruits from the class of 2016 and beyond.

Hiers and Fullwood are both considered four-star recruits and have been at the top of UK's 2015 wish list for several months.

Lexington Catholic quarterback Reese Ryan was one of many in-state recruits in attendance, in addition to Harris.

There was also a large contingent of players from the program's signing class of 2014. Those prospects followed behind the UK coaches and players during the Cat Walk and milled around on the field before the scrimmage.

John Hardin defensive tackle Matt Elam — a five-star signee — was wearing a blue UK jumpsuit and posing for pictures with fans outside the stadium before joining his future teammates on the field.

It was a festive pre-game environment for the visiting players who have not yet committed. Those prospects were treated to loud cheers from the UK fans hours before the game began.

The coaching staff had been stressing the importance of a big crowd for recruiting purposes all week long. Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot was pleased with what he called an "awesome" turnout.

"Players want to go somewhere where they're recognized," Eliot said. "And if they feel like you've got a lot of support, then that means a lot to them."

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

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