UK Football

As football’s national signing day nears, a shuffle in UK’s remaining targets

Coach Mark Stoops and Kentucky already have one of the nation’s top 20 recruiting classes for 2017, according to the Rivals.com rankings.
Coach Mark Stoops and Kentucky already have one of the nation’s top 20 recruiting classes for 2017, according to the Rivals.com rankings. cbertram@herald-leader.com

College football’s national signing day is now less than two weeks away, and it’s been a busy past few days for UK recruiting developments as the Wildcats look to close out their 2017 class.

With 23 players already committed, the UK coaching staff can afford to be picky down the stretch with what likely will be two remaining spots for this year’s class.

A couple of the Cats’ biggest targets coming into the week now seem almost certain to end up elsewhere, while a couple of other talented prospects have popped up on Kentucky’s radar. National signing day is Feb. 1.

Important visit

Four-star offensive lineman Thayer Munford still doesn’t have a scholarship offer from Ohio State, but he will take an official visit to Columbus this weekend.

This trip is the latest indication that Buckeyes Coach Urban Meyer could be close to extending an offer to Munford, who entered the week as arguably UK’s top remaining recruiting target for the 2017 class. 247Sports ranks the 6-foot-6, 325-pounder as the No. 28 offensive tackle in the country.

For the past few weeks, it’s seemed likely that Munford would commit to either OSU or UK, depending on whether or not the Buckeyes offered a scholarship. It wouldn’t be surprising if he joins Ohio State’s commitment list by the end of the weekend.

New possibilities

A couple of new names popped up on UK’s radar this week as possible late additions to the 2017 recruiting class.

Inside linebackers coach Matt House was in Alabama on Monday to meet with Sterling Jones, who is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 22 inside linebacker in the 2017 class. The 6-1 prospect from Montgomery, Ala., took an official visit to Central Florida last weekend and is expected to be on Purdue’s campus this weekend. Jones will then take an official visit to UK next weekend.

Wide receivers coach Lamar Thomas was in his recruiting territory of Florida on Monday night to see Naytron Culpepper, who is ranked by 247Sports as a four-star player and the No. 24 cornerback in the 2017 class. Culpepper — a 6-foot prospect from Miami — is expected to visit South Florida this weekend and UK next weekend.

Interesting tweet

Former UK commitment Russ Yeast tweeted Thursday night that he had in-home visits the previous day with assistant coaches from Louisville and Notre Dame, as well as … Wildcats Coach Mark Stoops.

That last visitor was a surprise. Yeast — the son of former UK star Craig Yeast — backed out of his commitment to the Cats in June and then committed to rival Louisville in October. At the time, it was understood that UK would no longer be pursuing the 5-foot-11 athlete, projected as a defensive back in college.

Yeast did have a stellar senior season and is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, Scout.com and ESPN. Though he’s still committed to Louisville, he will take an official visit to Notre Dame this weekend and then have one official visit remaining with one weekend left before national signing day.

Craig Yeast told the Herald-Leader in August that he wished his son had stuck with UK, but he would support whatever decision Russ ultimately makes.

His recruitment will be worth monitoring in the final stretch before signing day.

Off the list

Three-star defensive lineman Jon Ford and four-star athlete Bruce Judson Jr. will not be part of UK’s 2017 recruiting class.

Ford, who was supposed to visit Lexington this weekend, announced Wednesday night that he is shutting down his recruitment and sticking with his commitment to Miami. He entered the week as one of the Wildcats’ top recruiting targets.

Judson was scheduled to visit UK next weekend, but he will take a trip to South Florida instead, calling off the UK visit due to what he called a “lack of communication” with the Wildcats’ coaching staff.

Kentucky landed a commitment from four-star athlete Lynn Bowden, a similarly skilled offensive player, last weekend, and that addition lessened the need for a recruit like Judson.

Latest on Davis

The Herald-Leader took a closer look at the curious case of four-star wide receiver Danny Davis earlier this week, and the outcome of his recruitment is still anybody’s guess.

Davis told Rivals.com that he will take an official visit to Wisconsin this weekend. The Badgers appeared to be finished with 2017 recruiting due to a lack of available scholarships, but early entries to the NFL Draft led to a couple of openings on the roster, and Davis is a possibility to fill one of those spots. Wisconsin’s coaches met with him for an in-home visit Thursday night.

Davis — a 6-2, 180-pound prospect from Springfield, Ohio — is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 98 overall player in the 2017 class, and he’s already taken official visits to UK and West Virginia. Cincinnati is also trying to get him on campus for an official visit.

UK is also getting low on scholarships, but it seems unlikely the Cats would turn away a player of Davis’ caliber if he did want to commit. It’s looking like Davis will wait until signing day before making a college announcement.

▪  Alabama Coach Nick Saban visited with local offensive lineman Jedrick Wills at Lafayette High School on Thursday. Wills, a five-star recruit, remains solid in his commitment to the Crimson Tide despite a continued recruiting push from UK, and there’s no reason to think he won’t sign with Bama on Feb. 1.

▪  UK commitment Joshua Paschal — one of the Wildcats’ top pledges for 2017 — will take an official visit to Penn State this weekend, but UK is confident that he will stick with his commitment. Vince Marrow has visited with him multiple times over the past few weeks.

▪  This week’s departure of UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot is not expected to affect the recruitments of any of the Wildcats’ 2017 commitments.

▪  UK quarterback commitment Jarren Williams received a scholarship offer from Mississippi State on Wednesday. Williams, the Cats’ only commitment for 2018, has repeatedly said that he’s solid in his pledge to the Wildcats.

UK’s football commitments for the class of 2017

Player

Pos

Ht

Wt

Hometown

Rivals

Scout

ESPN

247

Tyrell Ajian

DB

6-1

185

Mansfield, Ohio

****

***

****

****

Josh Ali

WR

6-0

175

Hollywood, Fla.

***

***

***

***

Quinton Bohanna

DT

6-4

300

Cordova, Tenn.

***

***

***

***

Lynn Bowden

ATH

6-1

190

Youngstown, Ohio

****

****

***

****

Danny Clark

QB

6-2

230

Columbus, Ohio

***

****

****

***

Yusuf Corker

CB

6-0

185

Stockbridge, Ga,

***

****

****

***

Jamin Davis

LB

6-4

210

Ludwici, Ga.

***

***

***

***

Sebastien Dolcine

OL

6-4

285

Hollywood, Fla.

**

**

***

**

Cedrick Dort

CB

5-11

170

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

**

***

***

***

Austin Dotson

OL

6-6

290

Belfry, Ky.

**

**

***

***

Isaiah Epps

WR

6-3

185

Jenks, Okla.

***

**

***

***

Phil Hoskins

DL

6-5

275

Toldeo, Ohio

***

***

***

***

Alex King

LB

6-3

225

Mason, Ohio

***

***

***

***

Lonnie Johnson

DB

6-3

215

Gary, Ind.

***

***

***

***

Bryant Koback

RB

6-0

200

Holland, Ohio

***

***

***

***

Michael Nesbitt

DB

6-0

175

Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.

***

***

***

***

Joshua Paschal

DE

6-4

255

Olney, Md.

****

****

****

****

Javonte Richardson

WR

6-4

210

Maple Heights, Ohio

****

****

****

****

Clevan Thomas

WR

5-11

190

Miami, Fla.

***

***

***

***

Naasir Watkins

OL

6-5

300

Olney, Md.

***

**

***

***

Chris Whittaker

DE

6-4

250

Hollywood, Fla.

***

***

***

***

Walker Wood

QB

6-0

190

Lexington, Ky.

***

***

***

***

Jordan Wright

DE

6-5

230

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

***

***

***

***

  Comments