Mark Stoops reiterated three months ago that UK is focused on keeping the best in-state football prospects close to home for their college careers.
That statement came on national signing day, when the Wildcats put the finishing touches on a 2018 recruiting class that — for the first time in program history — featured no prospects from Kentucky.
That won’t be a problem in 2019.
Doss defensive lineman Shawnkel Knight-Goff committed to the Cats on Friday, giving UK its second in-state commitment for the class of 2019 in a span of less than two weeks.
Eleven days earlier, it was West Jessamine offensive lineman Eli Cox who announced his commitment to Kentucky.
Knight-Goff — a 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect from Louisville — is the No. 7 player in Kentucky for the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. U of L and Purdue had also been seen as possible favorites, but ace recruiter Vince Marrow recently took over Knight-Goff’s recruitment and has helped deliver him to the Cats.
The 247Sports composite rankings also place Knight-Goff as the No. 43 weakside defensive end and No. 588 overall prospect nationally for the 2019 class.
“I was disappointed. I’m not going to lie,” Stoops said of the lack of in-state signees on national signing day in February. “I want in-state guys, and we’re recruiting hard on the (2019 class) right now. We’re out there beating the pavement and making sure we’re evaluating the right guys and getting them.”
Five other uncommitted recruits remain in the top 10 rankings for Kentucky for the class of 2019, and all five of those players have UK scholarship offers. Four are from Louisville — wide receiver Milton Wright, defensive end JJ Weaver, wide receiver Demontae Crumes and running back Aidan Robbins — and the other, Western Hills athlete Wandale Robinson, is from nearby Frankfort.
There’s a growing sense of optimism around UK’s program that the Cats will be able to land at least a couple more players from that group, and Kentucky is especially optimistic about its chances with Robinson, a do-everything offensive player and one of the early frontrunners for Mr. Football honors heading into next season.
Knight-Goff is the seventh UK commitment for the class of 2019 and the fourth this week, joining quarterback Nik Scalzo, defensive back Jalen Geiger and offensive tackle Jake Pope, who have all announced commitments to the Cats since Sunday.