UK football gets commitments from 4-star safety Walker and 3-star cornerback Beckham

broberts@herald-leader.comJuly 18, 2014 

University of Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops picked up his first class of 2015 commitment from a defensive back on Friday night. A little while later, he got a second.

Florida safety Marcus Walker and Ohio cornerback Kei Beckham were both on campus for the Friday Night Blue Lights Camp when they announced their commitments to the Wildcats.

Walker went first, giving UK's class a 6-foot prospect in the defensive backfield that is ranked by Rivals.com and ESPN as the No. 16 safety in the class of 2015. ESPN considers him a four-star recruit.

He first committed to Kentucky in January, but then backed out of his pledge in April. Walker said he rushed his original decision and wanted to hear from other college programs before he made a final call on his recruitment.

More than 30 schools ended up offering him a scholarship, including late ones from Notre Dame and UCLA. In the end, Walker narrowed his list to UK, Arkansas and Michigan State before finally deciding on the Wildcats.

Running backs coach Chad Scott was Walker's primary recruiter, and he never let up.

"I just wanted to explore my options and see what schools would come at me," Walker recently told the Herald-Leader. "(UK's coaches) were sad that I did it, but they understood that I committed too early.

They just kept talking to me and staying on me, like they really wanted me. They've treated me like family."

Walker had visited Lexington before for an AAU basketball tournament, but this weekend was the first time he had come to town as a football recruit. He went into the trip knowing that he wanted to be a Wildcat, and it took only a few hours on campus before he was ready to make that decision public.

Beckham's commitment adds even more size to UK's secondary.

The 5-11 prospect from Trotwood, Ohio — just outside of Dayton — is big for a cornerback and has enough speed to be an effective player at that position.

"Coaches love length at the cornerback position, and Kei brings that," Rivals.com analyst Josh Helmholdt told the Herald-Leader last month.

"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."

Rivals ranks Beckham as the No. 42 cornerback in the class and the No. 20 overall prospect from Ohio, which now accounts for six UK commitments in 2015.

Kentucky has a total of 14 commitments for next year, and seven of those players are considered four-star prospects by at least one of the major recruiting services.

Friday's additions moved UK to No. 16 in the Rivals.com team rankings, one spot ahead of Ohio State.

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

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