UK Men's Basketball

Looking ahead: 10 football recruits to keep an eye on for the class of 2017

Kentucky's Mark Stoops already looking ahead after another impressive signing day

UK football coach says 2016 was his best recruiting class yet, but this is no time to relax.
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UK football coach says 2016 was his best recruiting class yet, but this is no time to relax.

It’s never too early to take a look into the future when it comes to recruiting, and the University of Kentucky is off to a great start with what looks to be another solid class in 2017.

The Wildcats already have six commitments for next year, including quarterbacks Mac Jones and Walker Wood, running backs Michael Warren and Bryant Koback, four-star defensive end James Hudson and highly touted athlete Russ Yeast, the son of former UK great Craig Yeast.

UK’s six-player class so far is ranked 10th nationally and No. 2 in the Southeastern Conference, and the Wildcats coaching staff will be looking to add more talented prospects to that group over the next few months.

Here are 10 recruits from the class of 2017 to keep an eye on during that time:

Jedrick Wills, offensive lineman: The Cats’ biggest target moving forward, Wills plays for Lafayette High School, where he’s been teammates with UK signee Landon Young and UK commitment Walker Wood. He has scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida State, Louisiana State, Notre Dame and Ohio State, among several others, but the Cats have a legitimate shot at his commitment. ranks him as the No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 15 overall prospect nationally in the class of 2017.

Cole Bentley, offensive lineman: Willis is the only Kentuckian with a confirmed offer from UK, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Bentley join him on that list. The Belfry standout had a nice showing at the U.S. Army Combine in Texas last month.

Adarius Lemons, running back: UK already has two running backs for 2017, but the Cats would likely have room if Lemons wanted to join. It’s still early, but he’s recently said that UK is his favorite despite an offer from Ohio State. Rivals ranks the Clearwater, Fla., native as the No. 11 running back nationally.

Thayer Munford, offensive lineman: A Cincinnati native, Munford has already visited Lexington, and the Wildcats look to be among his early favorites. He’s widely considered one of the top 20 prospects from Ohio, and Rivals ranks him as one of the top 50 offensive tackles in the class.

Joshua Paschal, defensive end: Landing Paschal might be a long shot, but he’s interested in UK and knows the program well due to his older brother TraVaughn Paschal’s time as a Wildcat. The younger Paschal — from Olney, Md. — is ranked by Rivals as the No. 10 strong-side defensive end in the country.

Charles Reeves, tight end: The highly athletic prospect from Steubenville, Ohio committed to UK without visiting the campus last year, then backed off of that pledge last month. Other big schools will come after him, but UK will still be recruiting Reeves. “Re-commitments” aren’t common, but they do happen.

Javonte Richardson, athlete: This would be a major coup for Kentucky, which will likely have to compete with the likes of Ohio State and Michigan State to secure a commitment from the Maple Heights, Ohio, native. Richardson, who projects as either a wide receiver or defensive back, is ranked by Rivals as the No. 80 overall player in the class.

Amir Riep, cornerback: Riep — a four-star prospect from Cincinnati — would be another major pickup for the Wildcats, who have been recruiting him for a while. Ohio State is the most recent big-time program to extend a scholarship offer. Rivals ranks him as the No. 22 cornerback in the class, and he’s expected to visit Lexington this weekend.

Caleb Rozar, defensive back: The Tennessee native attended several UK home games last season, and he has tremendous size for a DB at 6-foot-3 (though he also has potential as a wide receiver). The Wildcats were the first program to extend a scholarship offer, and that could pay off down the road.

J’Marick Woods, safety: UK assistant coach Derrick Ansley seriously targeted Woods before other SEC schools such as Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi State extended scholarship offers. That early contact should keep the Cats in the mix for the Florence, Ala., standout. Rivals ranks him as the nation’s No. 27 safety.

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @NextCats

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