It's not often when a place-kicker is one of the headliners of your recruiting class.
But Joseph Mansour isn't your average kicker.
Mansour was a three-time All-State selection and was named the place-kicker on Georgia's All-Decade Team. He made a 59-yard field goal his senior year, the third-longest in state history. His high school coach, Steve Pardue, said Mansour also is an excellent all-around athlete. Florida, which offered Mansour a scholarship, timed him at 4.47 in the 40-yard dash when he attended camp there, and he's a standout baseball player.
Mansour will become the latest product from the famed LaGrange program in Georgia to sign with Kentucky when the signing period opens on Wednesday, and he's expected to have an immediate impact in Lexington this fall.
"He's special," Pardue said. "I remember my son — I think he was in fourth grade at the time — came up to me and said, 'I know who our next kicker is going to be.' I said, 'Oh, yeah?' So I went over to the middle school game and watched Joe, and he was already kicking the ball in the end zone. His first kick he made for us on the varsity was a 50-yarder as a freshman. We knew then that he was going to be the real deal."
Mansour probably will immediately replace the departed Lones Seiber on field goals and could challenge for the kickoff job. He could eventually be a factor as a punter, too; Scout.com has him listed as the No. 2 punter in the nation.
"I think they have a need on kickoffs and long field goals, but the thing he's improved the most is his punting," Pardue said. "He's really become a great punter. The more things you can do, the more valuable you are."
It's been a frantic last 24 hours on the recruiting trail for Kentucky. The Wildcats reportedly lost one commitment on the eve of signing day and could be on the verge of losing another while potentially adding a four-star tight end.
Rivals.com and SuperPreps.com reported that three-star offensive tackle Kenarious Gates (Greenville, Ga.) received a late offer from Georgia and will sign with the Bulldogs instead of UK on Wednesday. Also, The Birmingham News reported that three-star safety Ryan Smith has called a news conference for Wednesday to announce his signing and that he could possibly make a last-minute switch away from Kentucky.
But Tuesday wasn't all gloom and doom for UK.
Alex Smith, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound tight end from Cincinnati, is expected to sign with UK on Wednesday, according to his coach, Larry West.
Smith is listed as the nation's 11th-best tight end by Rivals.com and had previously committed to North Carolina.
"I think he feels very, very comfortable with Kentucky at this point," West said. "He's very strongly tied to Kentucky. Most of his family is from Kentucky, and I always felt that would be a strong tie, plus he's always gotten along really well with Coach (Joker) Phillips."
Those who judge the Wildcats' class solely on the star system probably will be disappointed. Assuming Smith signs, he and Mansour are the only prospects that were given four stars by either Rivals.com or Scout.com.
Kentucky's class is ranked 55th in the nation by Rivals.com and 54th by Scout.com. Rivals has Kentucky's class 10th in the SEC, and Scout has UK last.
But Kentucky has done well taking lower-ranked prospects and turning them into standout college players. Wesley Woodyard, Keenan Burton, Jacob Tamme, Jeremy Jarmon, Myron Pryor and Steve Johnson are all former Wildcats on NFL rosters, and all of them were three-star recruits or worse.
Some potential sleepers in this class include Stone Mountain, Ga., running back Raymond Sanders; Gadsden, Ala., cornerback Dale Trimble; and Summerville, S.C., defensive tackle Brice Laughlin.
UK could add another player or two late. Simon Kenton running back Miles Simpson; Lincoln, Ala., tailback D.J. Howard; Central linebacker Tim Patterson; and Stone Mountain, Ga., defensive tackle Mike Thornton will announce their decisions Wednesday.
Simpson will choose between Indiana, Illinois and UK; Howard between Clemson and UK; Patterson between Louisville and UK; and Thornton between Georgia, Penn State and UK.
Simon Kenton Coach Jeff Marksberry said Simpson has been "very tight-lipped" about his recruiting and said he wasn't even sure what Simpson was going to do.
Also, Allendale, S.C., athlete and Vanderbilt commitment Jerrell Priester has been weighing options and is considering UK.
Two of Kentucky's signees have already enrolled: junior-college safety Josh Gibbs and South Carolina defensive end Justin Henderson.
McCaden to walk on
Bryan Station running back Tevin McCaden will be attending Kentucky as a preferred walk-on, the high school announced Tuesday.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound McCaden rushed for 2,073 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior and was named to the Herald-Leader's All-City first team.
A preferred walk-on is awarded a spot on the team without having to go through an open tryout. He doesn't receive a scholarship and does not sign a letter of intent.