With the 2018 signing class in the rearview mirror, UK’s coaches have turned their attention to the next collection of football talent. Many of the Cats’ biggest targets from that group will be in Lexington this weekend.
Kentucky’s program is expecting dozens of high school juniors for its first major “junior day” recruiting event of the year. The exact guest list will be in flux up until players start arriving in town this weekend, but those expected to attend include several early targets from Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri and Louisiana, among other places. (The last two states on that list are new recruiting areas of interest for this UK staff moving forward).
The big day is Saturday, when visiting recruits will get to spend time with UK’s coaches, meet members of the Wildcats’ support staff, tour the program’s facilities, go through photo shoots in UK game gear (many of those shots will likely end up on social media) and take in the Wildcats’ basketball game against Missouri in Rupp Arena on Saturday night.
This will be an important event as UK’s coaches continue to build relationships with some of their top targets from the 2019 class, many of whom are likely to return to Lexington for spring practices, the program’s Blue/White Game and summer camps before the start of their senior seasons.
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This weekend could also lead to some commitments in the near future. Over the past three recruiting classes, UK has picked up 13 commitments from high school juniors in February or early March, and many of those players attended “junior day” events such as this weekend’s.
Brewster’s pick is notable because it’s the first Crystal Ball prediction in favor of the Wildcats for a quarterback in next year’s class. It’s also the first pick to be logged on Wolff’s Crystal Ball page.
Wolff — a 6-foot-5 prospect from Englewood, Fla. — earned a UK scholarship offer after attending one of the Wildcats’ recruiting camps last summer. In January, he publicly named UK the leader in his recruitment, and he’s expected to be among the program’s guests for this weekend’s junior day event.
According to the 247Sports composite rankings, Wolff is the No. 27 pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class. Other QBs that have been linked to UK at this early stage in the process are Alabama’s Paul Tyson, Ohio’s Connor Bazelak, Florida’s Nik Scalzo and Louisiana’s Lance Legendre.
Of those players, only Tyson has much activity on his Crystal Ball page. All of those predictions are in favor of Alabama. (Tyson is the great-grandson of Bear Bryant).
Rivals.com is turning the page to the recruiting class of 2019, and the website introduced several new sets of player rankings for that group this week.
The new Rivals 250 includes three players from Kentucky high schools: Trinity defensive end Stephen Herron (No. 51 overall), Louisville Christian wide receiver Milton Wright (No. 188) and Scott County offensive lineman Bryan Hudson (No. 242).
Herron is committed to Michigan. Ohio State is the early leader for Wright. Hudson has many major scholarship offers, including an early one from Kentucky.
UK QB targets Paul Tyson and Lance Legendre both earned new four-star rankings, though neither passer broke into the top 250.
UK’s lone commitment for the class of 2019 so far — Florida native Keontra Smith — is the No. 30 cornerback nationally in the new Rivals rankings. Smith has picked up recent offers from Alabama and Miami, so UK will have its work cut out to keep him committed.
Other notable UK targets in the rankings:
▪ Nik Scalzo is the No. 13 pro-style QB; Hayden Wolff is the No. 16 on that list, and Connor Bazelak is No. 18.
▪ Glasgow’s Tanner Bowles is the No. 53 offensive tackle. Alabama offered Bowles on Wednesday. Scott County’s Bryan Hudson is No. 25 on the O-tackle list.
▪ Doss standout Shawnkel Knight-Goff is the No. 33 weakside defensive end in the class. He’s expected to visit UK this weekend.
▪ Western Hills star Wandale Robinson is classified as an “athlete” by Rivals, but he was not listed among the top 70 players at that position. (He’s projected as a slot receiver who can play multiple offensive positions in college). Robinson is one of UK’s top in-state targets and an early favorite for Mr. Football honors next fall. Rivals ranks him as the No. 9 prospect in the state for 2019.
It happens every year: UK looks like it might be in a good spot for a top football talent in the junior class. Then, once signing day has settled and other programs turn their full attention to that next group, the Cats fade from the conversation.
One such player in the 2019 class might end up being Michigan running back Jaren Mangham, a four-star prospect who was seen just a couple of weeks ago as a possible part of UK’s future.
Since signing day, Mangham has received new scholarship offers from Florida State, Texas, Texas A&M, West Virginia and Mississippi, among others. He grew up in the Houston area and just wrapped up a visit tour that included trips to Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor and Texas Christian, and local power Michigan State remains the leader on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page, though one national analyst has logged a recent prediction in favor of Florida. Mangham’s mother is a Texas A&M alum.
UK has not been mentioned in recent updates on Mangham’s recruitment.