UK Football

Meet UK’s football signees for the recruiting class of 2017

What Austin Dotson's grandmother told Mark Stoops

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops told a funny anecdote about his home visit with Belfrey offensive lineman Austin Dotson.
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Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops told a funny anecdote about his home visit with Belfrey offensive lineman Austin Dotson.

The University of Kentucky officially announced its signing class of 2017 on Wednesday, and the group includes 24 players who will join the program for next season.

Here’s a quick look at each of UK’s signees:

Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald

Native of Nigeria came to the United States as a middle-schooler and is still new to the game of football, but he has tremendous size and athleticism and brings great upside to UK’s defensive line. Cats and Florida both offered scholarships last week.

Tyrell Ajian

Versatile defensive back had reported offers from Notre Dame, Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and several others before picking UK in April. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 168 recruit nationally. Scout.com’s Bill Greene told the Herald-Leader: “He is really a high-football IQ guy. … There’s no risk. There’s no bust potential at all.”

Josh Ali

Solid route-runner who is shifty in space and hard to bring down once he gets the ball in his hands. Ali should be a good fit for Eddie Gran’s offense, and the UK offensive coordinator was his primary recruiter. He could also factor into the Wildcats’ return game, if needed.

Quinton Bohanna

Several SEC schools were interested in Bohanna when he made an early commitment to UK, and Mississippi tried to flip him with an offer Tuesday, but the big D-tackle from Tennessee stuck with the Cats. Strong player who should be able to add more weight to his 6-4 frame.

Lynn Bowden

One of the most dynamic offensive players in the country, Bowden has already been compared to ex-Cat Randall Cobb and likely will play slot receiver, wildcat QB and run the ball out of the backfield. Scout.com ranks him as the No. 60 overall player in the class, and he was under consideration for five-star status.

Danny Clark

Longtime Ohio State commitment flipped his pledge to UK last fall and is already on campus as an early enrollee. Four-star QB has one of the biggest arms in the country. He needs to improve footwork and continue working on accuracy, but Clark could be a big-time quarterback at the college level.

Yusuf Corker

ESPN ranks Corker as one of the top-25 cornerbacks nationally, and it was a bit of a surprise when he chose UK over Tennessee, Michigan State and South Carolina in December. He has all the tools that college coaches look for in a defensive back.

Jamin Davis

Stoops called Davis a “prototype” weakside linebacker, and he’s already on campus as one of the Cats’ early enrollees. A high-energy player with an impressive frame for his position, Davis should become a factor as he continues to work on his skill set.

Sebastien Dolcine

The rankings don’t reflect it, but Dolcine is a high-upside offensive lineman who could be a difference-maker at UK. He’s a powerful, aggressive blocker who will benefit from a redshirt year as he continues to reshape his body and add strength. It might take time, but Dolcine has high upside.

Cedrick Dort

Another player who UK’s coaches feel is much better than his ranking. Stoops and company worked hard to keep Dort’s commitment, and he’s already on campus for spring classes. Lots of depth in the secondary should give him plenty of time to get SEC-ready.

Austin Dotson

Dotson was a four-year starter for four-time state champ Belfry, and UK passed on several higher-ranked offensive linemen to lock up his commitment early in the process. Dotson still needs to learn to pass block at a high level, but he has the reputation as a mauler at the line of scrimmage.

Isaiah Epps

Spent much of his high school career on the basketball court, but he’s proven to be a quick learner on the football field and could end up as one of the real gems in this class. Wide receiver has good size and a natural feel for the game.

Phil Hoskins

He’s expected to have three seasons of eligibility at UK after playing one year of junior college. He’s a versatile defensive lineman who should be able to help the Cats right away next season. Baylor and Mississippi State were among his other offers.

Lonnie Johnson

Junior-college defensive back took a long road to major-college football, but he’s finally made it and could end up as one of the Wildcats’ best 2017 signees. He can play any position in the secondary, though he’ll likely start out as a cornerback. Johnson will have two seasons of eligibility.

Alex King

Early commitment out of Ohio and a candidate to play the hybrid D-line/linebacker position for the Wildcats. “He can put his hand in the dirt and go,” said Scout.com’s Bill Greene, who added that he’s great at rushing the QB off the edge.

Bryant Koback

On pace for a ridiculous senior season until he suffered a broken leg in September. Koback is UK’s lone running back commitment in this class, and he has the right mixture of speed and power that should suit him well in multiple roles. Assuming he’s healthy, Koback could earn immediate touches in the backfield.

Michael Nesbitt

Intriguing talent with great length for a cornerback (though he can play safety, too), Nesbitt looks like he could be one of UK’s top commitments out of Florida in this class. ESPN ranks him as one of the top 50 cornerbacks in the country.

Joshua Paschal

One of the most athletic prospects in the country and one of the top-rated players in UK’s signing class. Paschal is a high-motor, versatile defensive end who can also play inside and should be a major contributor — and possible star — down the road. The Cats, who are listing him as a linebacker, beat out Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Penn State for his commitment.

Javonte Richardson

Rivals.com ranks Richardson as the No. 114 overall prospect nationally and No. 1 signee in UK’s recruiting class. The 6-4 athlete could play multiple positions, but Kentucky’s coaches like him as a wide receiver and he could be a monster pass-catcher for the Cats. He has all the physical tools to be a star.

Clevan Thomas

One of the most likely 2017 signees to make an immediate impact for the Cats this fall, Thomas is a steady slot receiver who is already on campus. He can extend plays in the short-passing game and could be a valuable weapon right away for UK’s quarterbacks.

Naasir Watkins

He’s already a gifted run-blocker, and Watkins should have plenty of time to work on his pass-blocking before he’s asked to make an impact at UK. Rivals.com’s Adam Friedman sees him as a right tackle who should be a “very good” offensive lineman in 2-3 years.

Chris Whittaker

He’s a physical, high-energy prospect at the line of scrimmage and has enormous long-term potential as a defensive end. Whittaker needs to add strength, and he still has a ways to go to be a consistent player, but the tools are there.

Walker Wood

Lafayette quarterback was often listed as an “athlete” but will be given an opportunity to compete at QB once he recovers from a knee injury. Wood lacks size, but he’s a true gamer who never shied away from contact and made big plays as a passer and rusher in high school.

Jordan Wright

Another super-athletic prospect at defensive end, Wright is also a standout basketball player and should benefit once he switches his full focus to football. All of the big Florida powers recruited him to stay home. Great length for a D-end and projects as a major presence in pass-rushing situations. UK listing him as a linebacker for now.

UK football signings for the class of 2017

Player

Pos

Ht

Wt

Hometown

Rivals

Scout

ESPN

247

Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald

DE

6-6

260

Lakeland, Fla.

Tyrell Ajian

DB

6-0

190

Mansfield, Ohio

Josh Ali

WR

6-0

180

Hollywood, Fla.

Quinton Bohanna

DT

6-4

320

Cordova, Tenn.

Lynn Bowden

ATH

6-1

190

Youngstown, Ohio

Danny Clark

QB

6-2

230

Columbus, Ohio

Yusuf Corker

CB

6-0

190

McDonough, Ga.

Jamin Davis

LB

6-4

210

Ludwici, Ga.

Sebastien Dolcine

OL

6-4

300

Hollywood, Fla.

Cedrick Dort

CB

5-11

170

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

Austin Dotson

OL

6-6

310

Belfry, Ky.

Isaiah Epps

WR

6-2

185

Jenks, Okla.

Phil Hoskins

DL

6-5

280

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

185

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Joshua Paschal

LB

6-3

270

Olney, Md.

Javonte Richardson

WR

6-4

230

Maple Heights, Ohio

Clevan Thomas

WR

5-11

190

Miami, Fla.

Naasir Watkins

OL

6-5

300

Laurel, Md.

Chris Whittaker

DE

6-3

260

Hollywood, Fla.

Walker Wood

QB

6-0

190

Lexington, Ky.

Jordan Wright

LB

6-5

250

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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