UK Recruit of the Week: Ohio CB Beckham has size Stoops is seeking

broberts@herald-leader.comJune 22, 2014 

Kei Beckham has the speed to stay with wide receivers, Rivals' Josh Helmholdt says.

It's been more than a year since talented Ohio cornerback Kei Beckham popped up on the Kentucky football program's recruiting radar.

He earned a scholarship offer from the Wildcats last September, and the 5-foot-11 prospect has been seen as one of UK's most realistic additions to the class of 2015 for months.

"I actually thought he probably would have been committed to Kentucky already," said recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt, who covers Ohio for Rivals.com.

The bad news for Kentucky is that other schools have done well to keep Beckham's recruitment going. The good news is that many who have followed it — including Helmholdt — still consider UK his most likely destination.

Beckham — his first name is pronounced like "key" — is the No. 42 cornerback in the country and the No. 20 overall prospect in the state of Ohio, according to Rivals.

He has the size that Mark Stoops and his coaching staff are looking for in the secondary.

"Coaches love length at the cornerback position, and Kei brings that," Helmholdt said. "He's a tall cornerback. He's able to utilize his length. He's fluid enough to stay there, and he's fast enough to play cornerback, which sometimes is the question with taller cornerbacks. But he brings that fluidity, that speed, plus the length. And that's really the appeal of Kei Beckham."

He's not a blazer who's going to run a 4.3 40, but Beckham is fast enough to stay with wide receivers all the way down the field, and he's strong enough to sometimes keep them from getting that far.

Like many big defensive backs, he has the ability to play the free safety position if that's where he's needed. But his best spot is at cornerback, and that's where UK is recruiting him to play.

"He does very well in a one-on-one setting, because he can be physical at the line of scrimmage, but he also has the make-up ability that — if he doesn't get a good jam at the line of scrimmage — he can flip his hips and stick with a guy down the field," Helmholdt said.

The Trotwood, Ohio, standout had a solid showing at the recent Rivals/Under Armour camp in Columbus, and Helmholdt said he was "in the conversation" for most valuable player honors at defensive back.

He finished the weekend as the No. 8 overall defensive player at the camp and drew praise for his ability to break up passes and make it tough for quarterbacks to find enough open space for completions.

Louisville and Wake Forest are among the other schools at the top of his list, and he still plans to camp at Ohio State this summer. The Buckeyes have stayed in contact throughout the spring, and an OSU offer to a home-state kid can always be a game-changer.

Until that happens, UK looks to be in a good spot.

"I would consider Kentucky the team to beat," Helmholdt said.

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

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