UK recruiting: Hidden lineman gem sticking to his choice

broberts@herald-leader.comJuly 13, 2014 

Larry Wells said he felt a bond with the UK coaches from his first day on campus.

Many of the top high school football recruiting services didn't even have Larry Wells ranked when he committed to Kentucky back in April.

The offensive lineman from Kenton, Ohio didn't have a long list of scholarship offers at the time, but he had quite a few fans in Lexington. The UK coaches had several linemen on their radar, and many of those players were widely considered four-star recruits.

Wells was the under-the-radar prospect they wanted to lock up early, before word of his potential spread.

"They were very excited," said Wells, recalling his commitment day. "They said I was the top lineman on their board."

Other programs have taken notice in the months since he pledged to the Wildcats.

Michigan State assistant coach Mike Tressel stopped by Wells' high school a few weeks ago. Late last week, Tressel called Wells with a scholarship offer.

The UK commitment's response to the reigning Rose Bowl champions?

"Pretty much, 'Thanks, but no thanks,'" Wells said. "I mean, it's awesome to get an offer from them. It's a Big Ten program, but I'm happy with where I'm at."

Ohio State has also been staying in regular contact. Surely an offer from the Buckeyes — the Big Ten powerhouse that plays just an hour from Wells' hometown — would cause him to think twice about UK.

"I don't care about them at all," he said.

Wells felt a draw to the UK program and a bond with the Wildcats coaches from his first day on campus. His commitment came during his first visit, and he returned later that month to catch the Blue-White Spring Game.

He said he "loved everything about" his first two trips to Lexington.

"It was awesome," he said. "The fans are amazing. I probably gained 1,000 followers on Twitter the day I committed. And then I went back there and everybody knew me. It was awesome."

The 6-foot-7, 295-pound offensive tackle is now ranked as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com, ESPN and 247Sports. He said he's been working on getting his body in better shape for the college game.

Wells has lost about 15 pounds over the past three months. He'd like to show up at UK around 300-310 pounds, and he's been working on his conditioning all summer. "I don't want it to be a fat weight. I want it to be muscle weight," he said.

On the field, Wells acknowledges that he needs to improve his run blocking before he can have an impact for the Wildcats. His pass-blocking skills have been honed while playing for a high school team that ran a five-wide offense that depended heavily on putting the ball in the air.

UK's lead Ohio recruiter, Vince Marrow, and offensive line coach John Schlarman have been the point men in Wells' recruitment, and the UK commitment says he has already built a great relationship with his future position coach.

He's also keeping close tabs on UK's recruiting efforts for the class of 2015, and he said many of his future teammates have been staying in touch through Twitter and a group text message.

Wells is one of six offensive linemen committed to the Wildcats — half of the class so far.

"It's awesome," he said. "I love it. I think we're going to have one of the best offensive line classes in the nation." He then paused for a second before adding: "It would be cool to get George Brown too."

Brown, another offensive lineman from Ohio, is set to announce his college decision July 25. The rest of his final five consists of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana State, but many are predicting that he'll choose the Wildcats.

If that happens, he'll be the highest-ranked offensive lineman in the class.

The added competition doesn't scare Wells, who will be eagerly following Brown's announcement on Twitter.

"The more the merrier," he said.

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

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