The University of Kentucky started officially announcing its signing class of 2018 on Wednesday, the first day of college football’s new early signing period.
Here’s a quick look at each player UK signed Wednesday:
One of UK’s first commitments for the 2018 class — he picked the Cats back in February — Alexander has good size (6-foot-3) for the wide receiver position. One of three UK signees from Chaminade-Madonna Prep (Fla.). Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 88 receiver in the 2018 class.
One of two UK signees at tight end, Bates is a more traditional player at that position and has drawn some comparisons to C.J. Conrad. Bates is a solid pass-catcher with good athleticism, but he’s also a willing blocker who relishes contact. The Cincinnati native is the No. 20 TE in the Rivals rankings.
Listed at 6-3, Brown is projected as a cornerback and will be another tall, long commitment at that position. Rivals.com analyst Rob Cassidy told the Herald-Leader this fall that Brown “plays mean” (that’s a good thing), and he’s the No. 69 CB in the class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Duffy was a late addition to UK’s class, but he’s likely to have an immediate impact on the Cats’ punting game. The former Aussie Rules Football player is making the transition to football and ProKicker.com ranks him as the No. 1 punter nationally for the class of 2018.
Rivals.com ranks Garner — a Florida native — as a four-star recruit and the No. 35 cornerback nationally for the 2018 class. At 6-3, he’s another player with great size for the position. He picked UK over Alabama, Clemson, Louisville and Michigan, and he had reported scholarship offers from all of those schools.
Hawkins is the No. 35 strong-side defensive end (per the 247 composite rankings) but he could end up anywhere on the defensive line. Miami, Oklahoma, Louisville and Wisconsin all extended scholarship offers to the Florida native. Locking up his signature early — and holding off Miami — is a big victory for UK.
Hayes — a wide receiver from Florida — was committed to Louisville before switching his pledge to UK over the summer. He projects as a slot receiver in college and should help the Cats’ short passing game, although he has the speed and quickness to deliver some home-run plays.
One of the most recent additions to UK’s class, Horsey took his official visit to Lexington earlier this month and committed shortly thereafter. 247Sports ranks the Florida native as the No. 50 guard in the 2018 class, and that’s the position he’s expected to play for the Cats.
One of the highest-upside players in UK’s class, Kinnard is a massive offensive tackle from Cleveland who should emerge as a major factor on the Wildcats’ offensive line down the road. There was buzz late in the process that some traditional college football powers would try to flip Kinnard from UK, so his early signing was big for the Cats.
None of the major recruiting services even had a star ranking for Mahone at the time of his commitment last week, but UK’s coaches are big on the Georgia native. He was credited with 13 sacks and 30 tackles for loss as a senior, and Tennessee also offered this month.
Kentucky’s highest-ranked commitment for 2018 — he’s the No. 156 player nationally in the 247 composite rankings — McCall could end up as a lineman on either side of the ball, though most project him as an offensive lineman. He had offers from local powers Michigan and Michigan State, as well as Penn State, Wisconsin and many others.
Florida wide receiver was part of UK’s big recruiting event over the weekend and committed to the Cats a few days later. He’s the No. 158 wide receiver nationally, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and should play the outside in college. One of his teammates is fellow UK signee Stanley Garner.
Three-star athlete from Florida projects as a linebacker at UK and committed to the Cats earlier this month. Utah appeared to be the Wildcats’ top competition late in Pierre’s recruitment. He’s the No. 99 athlete in the class, according to the 247 composite rankings.
One of the top kicking prospects in the country, Poore is likely to emerge as UK’s starting kicker next season, replacing the program’s all-time points leader Austin MacGinnis. Poore — from South Carolina — was also an accomplished punter in high school.
UK’s only running back signee for the 2018 class, Rodriguez ran for 1,669 yards and 25 touchdowns in 10 games as a senior this past fall, going for 7.2 yards per carry in the process. His running style compares somewhat to current UK star Benny Snell, a blend of power and speed that should translate well to the next level.
Michigan native is one of the Cats’ most coveted recruits in this class, and Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 33 outside linebacker nationally for 2018. Square is a high three-star player and could be a difference-maker at Kentucky early in his college career.
A basketball prospect early in his high school career, Upshaw has blossomed into a talented football player with lots of upside at the college level. The 6-7 tight end is more of a hybrid at the position and could be a major factor in UK’s passing game in the future. Rivals ranks the Ohio native as the No. 26 TE in the class.
Junior-college defensive back has the ability to compete for playing time right away at Kentucky, and he’s expected to enroll early and get started on his career with the Wildcats this spring. Williams actually committed to UK assistant Dean Hood out of high school — when Hood was at EKU — and the two rekindled that recruiting relationship.
Cincinnati native is regarded as a three-star prospect and could end up playing anywhere in the interior of the offensive line. He’s projected as a center by the major recruiting services. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 14 player at that position nationally.
UK’s lone QB signee for the 2018 class will enroll early and start competing for the starting job this spring. The junior-college transfer signed with Oregon out of high school and spent one redshirt year with the Ducks. ESPN ranks him as the No. 1 juco QB in the country. He’ll have three seasons of eligibility at Kentucky.