Two weeks out from national signing day, UK has almost wrapped up its football recruiting class of 2018.
Thanks to 20 signees during last month’s early signing period and a couple of more commitments this week — three-star offensive lineman Nick Lewis and three-star wide receiver LiAllen Dailey — the Wildcats’ coaching staff will enjoy a (relatively) stress-free final stretch to this recruiting cycle.
There are still some questions to be answered, however, with UK looking to add two or three more prospects to its 2018 class.
Here’s the latest:
Never miss a local story.
What’s up with Xavier Peters?
That’s been the biggest question among UK fans in recent weeks, and not much has changed on that front in the past few days. No movement is good news for the Cats at this stage.
Peters, who committed to Kentucky in July but did not sign with the program last month, did not take any official visits last weekend — and still has not taken any serious recruiting trips to anywhere other than Lexington — and there’s been no confirmation of his immediate future plans.
At last check, Florida and Florida State were both expecting him to be in town for official visits this weekend. Miami has also been mentioned as a possibility for an official visit before signing day hits on Feb. 7.
Until he actually shows up on another school’s campus, UK remains the leader.
Lakota West (Ohio) Coach Larry Cox accompanied Peters on a recent trip to Florida to play in the Under Armour All-America Game, and he acknowledged that the four-star linebacker fell in love with the weather there.
Cox also said Peters quickly realized what playing his college ball in Florida would mean, noting that UK is an hour and a half away from Peters’ home, and playing in a place that allows his family to attend games regularly is a big deal to the recruit.
“You can’t do that the farther away from home you get, and he appreciates that,” Cox told the Herald-Leader. “I know that’s important to him.”
The Herald-Leader was also told recently that Peters remains on track academically to enroll in college in June, which is when most of UK’s 2018 signees would arrive on campus.
UK vs. Ohio State
As has been the case for the past few weeks, it appears to be a UK-Ohio State battle for Christopher Oats, another four-star linebacker from the Buckeye State.
The biggest question coming into January was whether Ohio State would have a spot for Oats in its class. It now appears that it will, but don’t count the Cats out just yet.
Lead recruiter Vince Marrow has developed a strong bond with the 6-foot-4 prospect, and the Cats have been pursuing him as a priority for much longer than the Buckeyes.
Oats is expected to take an official visit to Columbus this week or next and announce his decision on signing day. It’s worth noting that OSU has made a major move on Oats’ 247Sports Crystal Ball page, including a pro-Buckeyes prediction from Ohio recruiting guru Bill Greene, who has followed this one closely.
How about a running back?
The unexpected departure of freshman running back Bryant Koback this month left UK with just four scholarship players at that position for next season: senior Sihiem King, junior Benny Snell, sophomore AJ Rose and incoming freshman Chris Rodriguez.
Mark Stoops said flat out that UK would add another running back in this 2018 class.
So, who will it be?
The Herald-Leader was told this week that Alabama native Kavosiey Smoke remains the Cats’ clear No. 1 target at the position, and he will be in Lexington this weekend for his official visit. Smoke is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 29 running back nationally in the 2018 class and would be a terrific late addition for the Wildcats.
Smoke — a 5-11 prospect — took an official visit to North Carolina two weekends ago, and that trip, by all accounts, went well. He didn’t commit to the Tar Heels on the spot, however, and that’s good news for UK.
More good news for the Cats: Smoke was expected to take an official visit to Auburn, which had not yet extended a scholarship offer, before national signing day, but that trip is now off.
It’s shaping up as a UK-UNC battle for the Cats’ top running back target.
Position of need
Wide receiver was another spot where Stoops wanted to add at least one more player, and he did so with the commitment of Alabama native LiAllen Dailey, who caught 23 touchdown passes as a senior and was called a “potential steal” for the Cats by 247Sports.
The 6-3 Dailey is the fourth wide receiver commitment for UK, joining Marvin Alexander (6-2), Akeem Hayes (5-10) and Bryce Oliver (6-3) — who all signed with the Wildcats last month.
UK’s other top wide receiver target coming out of the early signing period was Dominick Watt, who, somewhat surprisingly, committed to Nebraska last week.
Dailey’s addition gives UK a total of 10 scholarship wide receivers for next season.
▪ The commitment of 6-9, 350-pound Nick Lewis on Monday night gave the Cats another high-upside prospect for the offensive line. UK now has five 2018 commitments for that unit, and no more are expected.
▪ UK baseball signee Trevon Flowers visited Lexington over the weekend and remains on the Wildcats’ football radar as a defensive back target. He’s also expected to visit Tennessee before national signing day.
▪ Under-the-radar Louisiana linebacker Amauchechukwu Nnaji-Collins received a preferred walk-on offer from UK over the weekend, and that remains a possibility with signing day approaching.
▪ Two-star cornerback Messiah Turner, who took an official visit to UK last month, told 247Sports that UConn is now the leader in his recruitment. It appears that Kentucky is no longer in the picture as a viable landing spot.
▪ Former Arkansas commitment John Mincey — a three-star defensive end from Georgia — is still listing Florida State, South Carolina and Tennessee as his top three. UK has often been mentioned in his recruitment, but there’s no reason to think the Cats will be able to crack that top tier.