After a week spent traveling the country and meeting with high school football recruits in the wake of UK’s upset victory over rival Louisville, the Wildcats’ coaching staff will be back home this weekend to host some of its top remaining targets.
At least seven highly touted, uncommitted players from the class of 2017 are expected to be on UK’s campus this weekend — as well as a handful of Wildcats’ commitments — in what should be one of the program’s biggest recruiting weekends of the year.
Three of those visitors — Lynn Bowden, Danny Davis and Thayer Munford — are four-star prospects from Ohio, and UK recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow met with each of them earlier this week.
Davis — a 6-foot-2 prospect from Springfield, Ohio — is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 16 wide receiver nationally for the class of 2017 and the fourth-best recruit in the state. He also visited UK during fall camp, and Marrow met with him Monday.
Oregon, which fired head coach Mark Helfrich earlier this week, is tentatively scheduled to host Davis for an official visit next weekend. He’s also considering Penn State, Michigan State and a few other schools.
Bowden, who got a visit from Marrow on Tuesday, is a dynamic playmaker who could play one of the offensive “skill” positions or defensive back in college. He had 2,277 rushing yards, 1,366 passing yards and was responsible for 57 touchdowns this season.
The Youngstown, Ohio native is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 60 overall recruit and No. 4 athlete in the 2017 class. UK is the heavy favorite on Bowden’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page, and he most recently visited Lexington for the Wildcats’ game against Georgia a few weeks ago.
Munford — a 6-foot-6, 320-pound offensive tackle — is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 28 player at that position. Marrow visited him Wednesday, and Munford’s recruitment could hinge on whether or not he earns a scholarship offer from Ohio State, which would be the heavy favorite with an offer. Pittsburgh and Iowa State are among the other schools on his list.
Two highly touted seniors from Good Counsel (Md.) are also expected in Lexington for official visits this weekend.
The highest-ranked of that duo is defensive lineman Joshua Paschal, the brother of former UK player TraVaughn Paschal. Rivals.com ranks Joshua as the No. 8 weakside defensive end in the 2017 class, and he was at UK for the Georgia game last month. Oklahoma and Notre Dame could be the Cats’ main competition in his recruitment.
Three-star offensive tackle Naasir Watkins — also of Good Counsel — might be the most likely player on this weekend’s guest list to commit to the Wildcats during the trip. Belfry offensive tackle Austin Dotson is UK’s only O-line commitment for 2017, and the Cats are likely to add at least a couple of more players at that position.
Florida wide receiver Leroy Henley and junior-college defensive back Lonnie Johnson are more recent additions to this weekend’s expected official visitor list.
Henley — a 6-1, 185-pound prospect from Deerfield Beach, Fla. — is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 45 receiver in the class of 2017, and a 247Sports national recruiting analyst recently predicted that he will end up committing to Kentucky.
Johnson — a 6-3, 190-pound prospect from Gary, Ind. — is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 1 safety in the junior-college ranks. West Virginia is the current leader in his recruitment, but UK didn’t extend a scholarship offer until a few days ago and could make up some ground this weekend. UK defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale recruited Johnson out of high school, when Clinkscale was an assistant at Cincinnati.
Mark Stoops currently has 14 commitments for the class of 2017, and the Wildcats are expected to add several more players to that group before national signing day on Feb. 1.