UK Football

New development gives Kentucky a leg up in football recruiting battle with Ohio State

Kentucky has 22 commitments for the class of 2018.
Kentucky has 22 commitments for the class of 2018.

For the past several weeks, 247Sports football analyst Bill Greene has been saying that the recruitment of four-star linebacker Chris Oats — a major UK target — would primarily come down to one thing: whether or not he visits Ohio State.

Oats — a 6-foot-4 linebacker from Cincinnati — was expected to take his official visit to Columbus this weekend, the final weekend before next week’s national signing day.

Greene, who covers recruiting in the state of Ohio as closely as anyone, told the Herald-Leader on Tuesday that — as long as that visit actually took place — he expected Oats to sign with Ohio State. Greene was among several recruiting analysts who had logged predictions in favor of the Buckeyes on Oats’ Crystal Ball page.

The Ohio analyst also offered a bit of hope for UK fans.

“The best thing (for UK fans) would be if Chris puts on Twitter that he’s changed his mind and he’s not going anywhere this weekend,” Greene said. “I think, at that point, you would see all the Crystal Ball predictions go to Kentucky. I know mine would.”

On Thursday afternoon, Oats told that he would not visit Ohio State this weekend.

Greene had already taken the major step Thursday morning of changing his Crystal Ball pick to Kentucky, and he told the Herald-Leader before Oats’ later confirmation that he did not expect Oats to follow through with his official visit to Columbus.

“I think it’s Kentucky,” Greene said.

Going into this week, Oats’ recruitment had clearly become a two-team battle between Kentucky and Ohio State, and his commitment to the Cats would be a major recruiting coup for Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and the rest of the program in the final days of the 2018 cycle, especially after losing four-star linebacker Xavier Peters to Florida State this week.

Oats took his official visit to UK in December, and he’s been on the Wildcats’ recruiting radar as a major target for well over a year. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 20 outside linebacker nationally for the class of 2018.

“He has a great relationship with Vince Marrow,” Greene told the Herald-Leader this week. “He’s described that to me as like a father-son relationship, and I haven’t heard him say that about anybody at Ohio State. It won’t shock me if he ends up going to Kentucky, and I think Kentucky feels pretty confident that they can get him. This will not be a monumental upset if they land him.”

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