UK Football

Lafayette football star Jedrick Wills commits to Alabama over Kentucky

Jedrick Wills was presented his Under Armour All American Jersey in Lafayette’s cafeteria on Monday, November 7, 2016.
Jedrick Wills was presented his Under Armour All American Jersey in Lafayette’s cafeteria on Monday, November 7, 2016. Herald-Leader

Lafayette offensive lineman Jedrick Wills — one of the highest-ranked players in the state’s recent history — announced Tuesday that he has committed to Alabama.

Wills revealed his college decision with a video posted to his Twitter account that showed him trying on suits in colors corresponding to the five finalists in his recruitment — Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Notre Dame and Tennessee — to mixed reactions from his friends and family.

They all cheered when he revealed the Bama-themed outfit.

Wills — listed at 6-4 and 316 pounds — has been one of Kentucky’s most high-profile recruits for years and is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 4 offensive tackle and No. 16 overall prospect nationally in the class of 2017.

He turned away scholarship offers from Florida State, Georgia, Louisiana State, Ohio State and several other major programs before settling on a list of finalists.

Many recruiting analysts expected him to announce his commitment to the Crimson Tide before the start of his senior season in August. When that didn’t happen, and weeks continued to pass without a public pledge, UK backers grew more hopeful that the local star might stay home and play for the Wildcats.

“They’ve told me that I’ve been their main priority since eighth grade, when I went over there for the first time,” Wills said of UK in late September. “They were my first offer. They’re still on me heavy, telling me that they want me to keep them in mind, be a hometown hero, those type of things. They’ve told us to give them a chance and that they’re going to recruit me to the last day.

“All the way up until signing day, no matter what happens.”

National signing day doesn’t come around until Feb. 1, but Wills seems to be solid in his decision to play for Alabama.

If he does indeed sign with the Crimson Tide, he’ll be a rare “miss” for Mark Stoops and his coaching staff on the in-state recruiting trail.

In nearly four years under Stoops, the Wildcats have landed commitments from 16 in-state prospects, including nationally recruited players such as Landon Young, Matt Elam, Drew Barker, Drake Jackson, Davonte Robinson, Kash Daniel, Eli Brown and Ryan Timmons.

Wills would be only the third major Stoops target from the state to sign with another school. The first was Caldwell County quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who signed with Purdue. The other was five-star running back Damien Harris, who picked Alabama over UK and is the only in-state player ever ranked higher than Wills by Rivals.com.

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