Now that the UK football program has officially announced its new signees for the 2018 class — a group of four players to join the 20 who signed with the Cats in December — here’s a closer look at the team’s top 10 additions for next season, according to the 247Sports composite rankings:
The No. 6-ranked offensive guard in the class, McCall is a top-200 prospect nationally and has the ability to play on both sides of the line. He was actually listed as a defensive lineman on UK’s signing day sheet.
Coach Mark Stoops has said this of the 6-foot-3, 350-pounder from Michigan: “The big thing is I wanted him playing at Kentucky, whatever side of the ball was good with me.”
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Another huge addition to UK’s class, Kinnard is a 6-7, 330-pound offensive tackle out of Cleveland who is ranked as a four-star prospect and the No. 22 player nationally at his position. He could emerge as a major force on UK’s offensive line of the future.
One of the final additions to UK’s class, Oats is a 6-4 linebacker from Cincinnati and signed with the Cats despite a real recruiting effort by Ohio State in the final weeks of the 2018 cycle. He’s the No. 22 outside linebacker nationally, and he’s the No. 3-ranked signee in Kentucky’s class.
One of UK’s early enrollees for 2018 — meaning he’s already on campus and working out with the team — Garner is the type of long defensive back that Stoops has coveted in recent recruiting classes. He’s considered the No. 46 cornerback in the class of 2018.
Yet another early enrollee, Square is rated as the No. 37 safety in the 2018 class but projects as a linebacker at UK. The coaching staff has high expectations for him as a key piece to the Wildcats’ defense in future seasons, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he makes an immediate impact this fall (particularly as a special teams player).
No member of UK’s 2018 signing class will come to Lexington with higher expectations that Wilson, a junior-college transfer who is already the favorite to land the starting quarterback gig this fall. Sophomore QB Gunnar Hoak is likely to be Wilson’s top competition for that spot, and that battle will start in spring practice. Wilson, who spent a season with Oregon out of high school, is rated by ESPN as the No. 1 junior-college QB in the 2018 class.
UK made Smoke its No. 1 running back target following last month’s news that freshman Bryant Koback would transfer from the program. Smoke joins three-star prospect Chris Rodriguez as the second running back in UK’s class, and either of those players could make an immediate contribution with just three other scholarship backs on the roster for next season. Smoke ran for 24 touchdowns as a senior in Alabama last fall.
A sure-handed tight end from Ohio who relishes getting physical in the blocking game, Bates has already drawn comparisons to current UK tight end C.J. Conrad, who will be a senior this fall and should be able to mentor the newcomer for future seasons. Bates is the No. 25 tight end nationally.
Listed at 6-3 and 320 pounds, Wilson is ranked as the No. 12 center nationally. The Cincinnati native is yet another high-upside addition to UK’s offensive line, and the talent in front of him should ensure that he’ll be able to redshirt in 2018 and work his way gradually up the depth chart.
The highest-rated wide receiver on UK’s signee list for this class, Alexander is ranked as the No. 111 wide receiver nationally. “He’s very shifty,” Stoops said. “He’s one of those guys, gets the ball in his hand, he’s open. He’s elusive and has some natural instincts with getting open.”
Keaton Upshaw, TE
LiAllen Dailey, WR
Davoan Hawkins, DL
Nick Lewis, OT
Jamari Brown, DB
Akeem Hayes, WR
Bryce Oliver, WR
Chris Rodriguez, RB
Kenneth Horsey, OG
Ashtan Pierre, LB
Chance Poore, K
Max Duffy, P