A few days removed from four-star quarterback Mac Jones’ highly successful recruiting visit to Lexington, the University of Alabama has given UK’s coaching staff something new to worry about.
Jones announced Sunday morning that he has received a scholarship offer from the Crimson Tide, the latest accolade in a busy few months in his recruitment.
Since becoming UK’s first commitment for the class of 2017 back in July, Jones has racked up several scholarship offers, taken visits to other college campuses, and earned top honors at some of the biggest camps in the Southeast.
Shortly after concluding his latest recruiting visit to UK last week, Jones told the Herald-Leader that he “enjoyed literally every second” of the trip and implied that he would not be taking any other recruiting visits.
Never miss a local story.
“Thinking about it, I’ve seen everywhere I wanted to see, and Kentucky is the best fit,” Jones said Tuesday night. “I’m not going to go out of my way to visit any more (schools).”
Until this weekend, Arizona State appeared to be the Cats’ top competition for Jones, who visited that school’s campus the previous week and apparently decided to stick with UK.
But it was clear that Jones — a Jacksonville, Fla., native — would be picking up more scholarship offers in the lead up to national signing day, which is still more than nine months away. Rivals.com recently bumped him up to four-star status, ranked him as the No. 15 pro-style quarterback in the class and honored him with the QB MVP trophies at high-profile camps in Atlanta and Orlando.
A scholarship offer from Alabama is about as big as it gets in college football recruiting, and it won’t be a surprise if Jones decides to visit Tuscaloosa and keep his options open moving forward.
Big recruits on campus
There weren’t a large number of recruits on UK’s campus this weekend, but the Wildcats’ coaching staff did host two of its biggest targets for the class of 2017.
That meant a lot of one-on-one time with the coaches for visiting linebackers Jacob Phillips and Chase Monroe.
Phillips — a four-star prospect from Nashville, Tenn. — visited UK on Friday on his way to Columbus for the Rivals regional camp there. Rivals ranks him as the No. 9 inside linebacker and No. 190 overall recruit in the class of 2017.
Mississippi, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Tennessee are among the other schools heavily recruiting Phillips, and he has scholarship offers from all of those programs.
Monroe — a three-star linebacker from North Carolina — was on campus for the second time in recent weeks. The 6-foot-2 prospect has emerged as arguably UK’s top inside linebacker target in the class of 2017, and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot has been recruiting him hard since Monroe’s first visit to Lexington last month.
Eliot posed for a picture with Monroe during his visit Saturday, and the recruit tweeted that photo out with the message: “Always a great time in Lexington!”
Mississippi State is among the other schools that have offered Monroe, who visited Starkville the previous weekend.
Latest on Wills
Lafayette offensive tackle Jedrick Wills took part at the Rivals camp in Columbus over the weekend and lived up to his expectations as a five-star player in the class of 2017, according to recruiting analysts in attendance.
Wills, who Rivals.com ranks as the No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 16 overall player in the class of 2017, mentioned UK, Alabama, Georgia, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Tennessee as the schools recruiting him the hardest at the moment. All of those programs have extended scholarship offers.
The 6-foot-4, 315-pound prospect said he has great relationships with UK Coach Mark Stoops, offensive line coach John Schlarman and new quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw. He’s a former teammate of five-star UK signee Landon Young and a current teammate of class of 2017 commitment Walker Wood.
“I like what they’re doing, but I’m still open to all of the other schools that are recruiting me. I’m just enjoying the process,” Wills told Rivals.com at the camp.
Wills said he has no timetable for his college decision.
Cats make top six
Another one of the Cats’ top recruiting targets for 2017, four-star defensive back Tyrell Ajian, announced his top six schools Friday. They are UK, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and West Virginia.
UK hosted Ajian — a Mansfield, Ohio native — for a visit a couple of weeks ago on the same weekend that fellow Ohio standouts JaVonte Richardson and Alex King were in Lexington. Richardson and King have since commited to the Wildcats, and UK has also emerged as the favorite in Ajian’s recruitment.