UK Football

Who will Kentucky sign to fill out the 2018 football recruiting class?

Xavier Peters is committed to UK, but he hasn’t signed with the Wildcats yet.
Xavier Peters is committed to UK, but he hasn’t signed with the Wildcats yet. AP

With about three weeks to go until national signing day (Feb. 7), here’s a look at the latest on 10 football recruits who have been on Kentucky’s radar in recent weeks, keeping in mind that the Cats are expected to add four or five more players to the list of 20 prospect they signed last month:

LiAllen Dailey

One of the newest players on UK’s radar for the 2018 class, Dailey — a 6-foot-3 wide receiver from Pinson, Ala. — is expected to take an official visit to Lexington this weekend. He’s one of two receivers on this list, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Cats add two players at that position of need to close out the class. Dailey caught 80 passes for 1,441 yards and 23 touchdowns and won a state title in his senior season. He’s the No. 178 wide receiver nationally in the 247Sports rankings. If he has a committable offer from UK, it appears likely that he will end up in Lexington.

Nick Lewis

Though he’s been committed to Washington State for more than three months, Lewis did not sign with the Cougars during the early period and remains on UK’s recruiting list. The 6-9, 350-pound (and that’s not a typo) lineman from Jacksonville, Fla., had UK among his favorites before his commitment to Washington State, and he visited Lexington last summer. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 37 offensive tackle in the class. He appears to be UK’s top remaining target at that position.

John Mincey

Last week, Mincey — a 6-4 defensive lineman from Georgia — announced that he was no longer committed to Arkansas. Even when he was committed to the Razorbacks, UK was often mentioned as a potential destination. Reports in recent days, however, have indicated that Florida State, South Carolina and Tennessee are Mincey’s top three schools. It doesn’t seem like UK will be his landing spot.

Amauchechukwu Nnaji-Collins

Nnaji-Collins — a 6-1 linebacker from Louisiana — took an official visit to UK last month but has not received a scholarship offer from the Wildcats. He’s an under-the-radar prospect who UK’s coaches like, but he appears to be a backup plan in case one or both of the next two players on this list end up elsewhere. 247Sports has not given Nnaji-Collins a star ranking.

Chris Oats

Oats — a 6-4 linebacker from Cincinnati — hasn’t said much about his recruitment or tried to build much hype around it, so his tweet over the weekend — showing himself in a Wildcats uniform — can probably be read as a good sign for UK. Even before that, the Cats appeared to be in good shape. 247Sports ranks Oats as a four-star recruit and the No. 20 outside linebacker in the 2018 class. He would be an outstanding late addition for UK, and — unless Ohio State makes a very late run at him — the Cats should be considered the favorites.

Xavier Peters

The only UK commitment who didn’t sign during the early period, Peters is a four-star linebacker and a top 200 prospect nationally. His high school coach talked to the Herald-Leader last week and said he still expects Peters to ultimately sign with the Wildcats on Feb. 7. Florida and Florida State have been mentioned as late suitors in his recruitment — and official visits to those schools have been rumored, but those visits have not yet been confirmed. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 13 outside linebacker in the class, and he’s on track academically to land on a college campus in June. Until Peters actually visits other schools, UK will remain the favorite.

Kavosiey Smoke

Following the announcement earlier this month that freshman running back Bryant Koback intends to transfer, UK Coach Mark Stoops made it clear that the Cats will add a player at that position on signing day. So far, Smoke — a 6-foot prospect from Wetumpka, Ala. — is the primary name that has popped up on UK’s radar. He took an official visit to North Carolina this past weekend and is expected to take official visits to UK and Auburn (which has not offered yet) between now and signing day. Rivals.com ranks Smoke as the No. 29 running back in the 2018 class.

Leonard Taylor

As recently as a couple of weeks ago, it looked like UK might be the favorite for Taylor, a four-star tight end from Ohio. Now, it appears that U of L is in the driver’s seat. Kentucky already has two talented tight ends — Brenden Bates and Keaton Upshaw — signed for next season, and the Cats had been recruiting Taylor as a defensive end, which is not his preferred position. As UK targets other positions of need to fill out the 2018 class, it appears Taylor won’t be a major part of the plan.

Messiah Turner

Like Nnaji-Collins, Turner took an official visit to UK last month but has not received a scholarship offer from Kentucky. There hasn’t been much UK-related buzz surrounding Turner — a two-star, 6-1 cornerback from Tampa, Fla. — in recent weeks, and the Cats are projected to go into the 2018 season with 17 defensive backs on the roster. Kentucky seems set at that position group.

Dominick Watt

Watt — a 6-1 receiver from Hollywood, Fla. — has been on UK’s radar for more than a year, and his name has popped up more prominently in recent weeks as perhaps the Wildcats’ top remaining target at the position. He’s the No. 67 wide receiver nationally, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and he’s planning to take official visits to Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Nebraska on the final three weekends before national signing day, when he’ll announce his college decision. Adding him to early signees Marvin Alexander, Akeem Hayes and Bryce Oliver — all three also Florida natives — would be a great late pickup for the Cats.

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