UK Football

Elite linebacker Xavier Peters is committed to UK, but will he sign with the Cats?

Team Highlight outside linebacker Xavier Peters during player introductions before the 2018 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game on Jan. 4, 2018, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
Team Highlight outside linebacker Xavier Peters during player introductions before the 2018 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game on Jan. 4, 2018, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. AP

The biggest name on UK’s football recruiting board with national signing day four weeks away is actually a player who’s been committed to the Cats since last summer.

Four-star linebacker Xavier Peters, who announced his pledge to Kentucky in July, was the only member of the Cats’ 2018 recruiting class who did not officially sign with the program during the early signing period last month.

Peters is a hot commodity — especially after his showing at the Under Armour All-America Game in Florida last week — but, according to his high school coach, he hasn’t shown much sign of wavering in his commitment to the Cats.

Lakota West (Ohio) Coach Larry Cox told the Herald-Leader on Tuesday that he expects Peters to sign with Kentucky next month. He just wasn’t quite ready to do it in December.

Cox says he uses a marriage analogy when talking about recruiting with his players.

“When you make a commitment, you’re committed. You don’t flirt and all that stuff. But once you sign that paper, that’s taking that vow, and then you’re married,” he tells them.

Cox, who has sent several of his players to UK in recent years, joked that Peters “used my words against me” in this case.

“I’m solid,” Peters told his coach last month. “But before I walk down that aisle, I want to make sure it’s the right one.”

UK football commitment Xavier Peters tweeted a photo of himself with assistant coaches Matt House, left, and Vince Marrow, right, during a recruiting visit last month.

As of now, he doesn’t appear to be taking any other suitors very seriously.

Multiple reports out of the Under Armour game last week indicated that Peters had scheduled an official visit to Florida for later this month.

“I don’t see that happening,” Cox said. “I haven’t talked to Florida about it. And if I haven’t talked to them about it, normally it’s not going to happen.”

Cox said inquiries into Peters’ recruitment have typically been going through him, and even Peters has acknowledged that he hasn’t had any contact with Florida since the new coaching staff got there.

Other schools have been calling, but Peters has not yet set any official visits — other than his one to Kentucky last month — and Cox wasn’t sure that he’d take any more trips. He did say another visit to Lexington for a weekend basketball game later this month was a possibility for Peters, who 247Sports ranks as the No. 13 outside linebacker in the class of 2018.

“My phone’s heated up because of his performance (at the Under Armour game),” Cox said. “It is what it is. He’s committed to UK.”

Peters is on track academically and would enroll in classes at UK and join the team in June, if he does indeed sign with the Wildcats next month. The first day of the regular signing period is Feb. 7.

He would be the second-highest rated member of UK’s 2018 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, behind only Michigan lineman Marquan McCall.

Peters had three tackles, one tackle for loss, one quarterback hurry and one pass breakup in last week’s Under Armour game, which featured many of the best high school football prospects in the country. He also had a kick return that ended with him hurdling another player, showing off tremendous athleticism for a 6-foot-4 linebacker. national analyst Mike Farrell mentioned Peters as one of the “biggest hitters” among the prospects at the showcase.

“It was fun for him,” said Cox, who was an assistant coach at the game. “He played well. He impressed people. I thought he had a really good game. All in all, I was just really impressed with how he handled himself down there. Sometimes, you don’t know how kids are going to turn out when they’re matched up with the elite kids. There are some kids that shrink to that. But I think Xavier showed himself well as being able to play against that type of competition. I think that’s what impressed everybody.”

UK’s coaches have been impressed with him since the early stages of his recruitment. They remain 100 percent committed to him, and Cox said Peters appreciates the bond he’s formed with the Wildcats’ coaching staff.

It also doesn’t hurt that three players on UK’s roster this past season — George Asafo-Adjei, Kyle Meadows and Kayaune Ross — once played for Cox at Lakota West.

“The biggest thing is that there’s a level of trust there,” he said. “And I think that’s the most important thing. … I’m beholden to my players, and I’m always going to look out for their best interests. And, in this case, what makes it easy for me is the fact that I have a level of trust there.”