UK Football

Top recruiting targets expected for UK’s football game against South Carolina

UK Coach Mark Stoops has a big game against South Carolina on Saturday, and some of his top recruits will be in Lexington to see the Cats play the Gamecocks.
UK Coach Mark Stoops has a big game against South Carolina on Saturday, and some of his top recruits will be in Lexington to see the Cats play the Gamecocks. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Two talented defensive linemen will be among several prospects in attendance for Saturday’s game at Commonwealth Stadium between Kentucky and South Carolina, a night that’s expected be the Wildcats’ biggest recruiting event so far this fall.

BJ Sharpe (Macon, Ga.) and Jordan Wright (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) are both three-star players who have been on UK’s recruiting radar for a while.

Wright — a 6-foot-5, 195-pound prospect — will be in town for the first official visit of his recruitment, which will continue with official visits to Florida State and Michigan State over the following two weeks. Both of those schools have extended scholarship offers.

Kentucky has offered a little different situation for Wright, who is also a standout basketball player and led Dillard High School to a Florida state title in that sport last season.

Over the summer, Wright got a phone call from UK Coach John Calipari, who spoke with him about possibly walking on with the basketball team if he were to accept a scholarship offer from Mark Stoops for the class of 2017.

Kentucky has regularly been mentioned among the top schools for Wright, but a scholarship offer from Florida State earlier this month might be bad news for the Wildcats. Rivals.com ranks Wright as the No. 22 weakside defensive end in the country.

Sharpe — a 6-3, 260-pound prospect — is coming to Lexington on an unofficial visit Saturday, telling the Herald-Leader that he will take his official visits at a later date.

UK extended a scholarship offer to Sharpe in May, and he attended a summer camp in Lexington a couple of months later. He remains among the Wildcats’ top targets in the class of 2017, and he told the Herald-Leader this week that UK and Western Kentucky are the two favorites in his recruitment.

Rivals.com ranks Sharpe as the No. 35 strongside defensive end in the class of 2017.

Koback can run

UK fans got a good look at true freshman running back Benny Snell in last week’s 62-42 victory over New Mexico State, and the Wildcats could have another good one at that position in the class of 2017.

Bryant Koback, who committed to Kentucky in January, has already rushed for 1,093 yards on 93 carries and scored 20 touchdowns in just four high school games this season. He scored six touchdowns last week alone, setting a school record with 376 rushing yards in that game.

On one of his TD runs last week, Koback jumped over a defender on his way to the end zone, earning a spot in ESPN’s Top 10 plays of the day feature.

The 6-foot, 205-pound prospect from Holland, Ohio, has track-star speed and is considered the No. 38 running back in the 2017 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Koback told the Herald-Leader that he plans to be in Lexington for Saturday’s game — his first as a UK commitment — and “can’t wait” to make the trip south to see the Wildcats.

He is one of several talented recruits from Ohio that UK’s coaches are expecting to be in attendance Saturday night.

WR to watch

Four-star wide receiver Ryan Jones announced his decommitment from North Carolina on Thursday night, an interesting development that could benefit UK.

Jones — a 6-2, 200-pound prospect from Charlotte, N.C. — said while he was committed to UNC that he still planned to take official visits to other schools. Kentucky was one of the schools he mentioned, along with Florida, Georgia, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

UK already has class of 2017 commitments from wide receivers Josh Ali, Javonte Richardson and Clevan Thomas, but the Cats would gladly welcome a talent like Jones, who is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 32 receiver and No. 202 overall prospect in the class.

Jones has not set any dates for his official visits.

Wills is No. 1

Rivals.com updated its list of the best recruits in the state of Kentucky this week, and Lafayette offensive tackle Jedrick Wills is still tops in the class of 2017.

Wills — a five-star recruit, according to Rivals — was expected to reveal his college decision before the start of the high school season, but there’s been no announcement yet.

Alabama is considered the favorite for Wills, who did attend UK’s home opener against Southern Miss this month.

Rivals.com analyst Woody Wommack predicted in the write-up accompanying the new state rankings that Wills would choose the Crimson Tide

“There were rumors late in the summer that Wills had committed to the Tide and that an announcement was imminent, but here we are a month into the season and there has been little to no news out of Wills’ camp,” Wommack wrote. “I honestly think he wanted to give Kentucky a fair shot, but the Cats’ on-field struggles so far this fall aren’t a good sign for the hometown option.”

The other four players included in Rivals.com’s state rankings for 2017 are all committed to colleges: 2. Belfry offensive guard Cole Bentley (Louisville), 3. Lafayette quarterback Walker Wood (Kentucky), 4. Louisville Christian tight end Jake Paulson (Western Kentucky) and 5. South Warren athlete C.J. Hayes (Purdue).

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @NextCats

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