The University of Kentucky football program landed two big recruits and sent one clear message Saturday: The Cats are now a major player when it comes to recruiting the nation's capital.
Defensive end Darius Fullwood and wide receiver Jabari Greenwood — two of UK's most important recruiting targets for the class of 2015 — announced their commitments during a ceremony with family and friends.
Fullwood and Greenwood are considered two of the best prospects in the Washington, D.C., area, which is known for turning out highly touted players.
They join D.C. lineman Levon Livingston in UK's class of 2015.
Along with Maryland linebacker Kobie Walker — a UK freshman and former teammate of Fullwood — the Cats are tapping into the talent-rich area in a big way.
"It's huge," Rivals.com analyst Adam Friedman told the Herald-Leader. "It's something that Florida State did — building a pipeline to the D.C. area. They were able to build a strong pipeline and choose the top-level guys that they wanted. And that's the track that (Mark) Stoops has Kentucky on right now.
"They're building a strong base. Fullwood, Greenwood, Livingston and Walker all are very popular players in the area with a lot of connections."
Fullwood — a 6-foot-3, 240-pound prospect who picked UK over Virginia Tech, Maryland and Duke — is ranked by Rivals as a four-star player and the No. 18 strongside defensive end in the class.
He is the 17th four-star recruit in the Rivals rankings to commit to UK since Mark Stoops was hired in late 2012. Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips combined for 12 such commitments from 2004 to 2012.
Friedman called Fullwood a smart player, a hard worker and a prospect that "will have that overwhelming strength" that teams look for in an SEC-caliber defensive end.
"Darius is a true technician," he said. "He knows exactly what he's doing and he has really good technique. He plays low, he's very aggressive with his hands. He has everything that's very difficult to teach."
Friedman said Fullwood will need to add some weight before he gets to college, but he doesn't see that as a problem. The analyst described the new Wildcat as an "intense" and "driven" player who will benefit greatly from UK's much-praised high-performance program.
Greenwood — a 6-4, 190-pound receiver who was also considering Michigan State, N.C. State, Illinois and Rutgers — has the size that UK's coaches have been looking for in their pass catchers.
Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 42 wide receiver in the class. UK already had commitments from 6-3 Alex Stump — the No. 40 receiver in the class — and 6-5 C.J. Conrad — the No. 7 tight end in 2015.
Friedman called Greenwood a "deceptively fast" player for his size and someone who will require a lot of safety help in college.
"He's a big wide receiver, so he's going to be a big target, especially downfield and over the middle for the quarterback," he said. "Kentucky is stockpiling talent on the outside, and Jabari is just going to add another element to that group."
UK wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord is the primary recruiter for both new commitments, the 11th and 12th in the Wildcats' class of 2015.
Mainord was also the point man in the recruitments of Livingston and Walker, and he's already targeting several others in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia region.
Saturday's additions will only help UK's efforts.
"The more guys like that they can get on their campus, the better," Friedman said. "It's only going to improve Kentucky's reputation in the area."