UK Football

Looking back at UK’s first five recruiting classes under Stoops. Where are they now?

Marcus McWilson, left, and Ryan Timmons joke around with UK head coach Mark Stoops during the team photo before the 2016 season.
Marcus McWilson, left, and Ryan Timmons joke around with UK head coach Mark Stoops during the team photo before the 2016 season.

Mark Stoops is expected to put the finishing touches on his sixth recruiting class as UK’s head coach later this week.

The Cats signed 20 players from the 2018 class back in December, and they’re expected to officially add a few more on national signing day Wednesday.

As UK looks ahead to its sixth season under Stoops, here’s a look back at Kentucky’s first five recruiting classes with him in charge, including a player-by-player glance at where each of the Cats’ recent signees are now, and how they did in their time at UK.

(All rankings are 247Sports composite unless noted):

Class of 2013

Total signees: 23

Class ranking: 34th (13th SEC)

Summary: Mark Stoops’ first class at Kentucky also included several holdover commitments from the Joker Phillips era. Late additions from inside the state such as Ryan Timmons and Jason Hatcher helped the UK staff make an immediate impact on in-state recruiting that would carry over to future classes. This class included several players who played a major role in helping UK achieve its first bowl appearance in five years. Junior-college transfer Za’Darius Smith remains the only Stoops recruit to be selected in the NFL Draft.

Four-star players: Jason Hatcher, Marcus McWilson, Za’Darius Smith.

Numbers game: 18 high school players (only eight completed their eligibility at UK). Five junior-college transfers (all five completed their eligibility at UK).

Jeff Badet: He caught 82 passes for 1,385 yards and seven touchdowns in three seasons as a Wildcat before graduating and transferring to Oklahoma this past season. He had 26 catches for 400 yards and three touchdowns for the Sooners. (Ranking: No. 127 WR)

Alvonte Bell: UK’s third-best high school recruit in 2013, Bell signed with the Cats but ended up going the junior-college route before again signing with UK two years later. Bell redshirted in 2015, made four starts in 2016, then was dismissed from the team last summer with one season of eligibility remaining. He ended up at the University of West Georgia. (Ranking: No. 23 strongside DE)

Javess Blue: A top 50 junior-college recruit, Blue had 72 catches for 1,111 yards and nine touchdowns in his two seasons with the Wildcats. (Ranking: No. 11 juco WR)

Steven Borden: A two-star tight end out of junior college, had seven catches for 96 yards and one touchdown in his two seasons with the Wildcats. (Ranking: No. 16 juco TE)

Justin Day: He signed with the Wildcats but never made it to campus. He went to Georgia Military Academy for junior college and then ended up at Evangel University (Mo.), an NAIA program. (Ranking: No. 131 OT)

Jason Hatcher: The highest-rated player in Mark Stoops’ first class, Hatcher was a former Southern Cal commitment who instead signed with UK. The Trinity football star showed flashes of talent during his career with the Cats, but he was dismissed from the team following the 2015 season after a marijuana trafficking charge. He finished his career at the University of West Georgia. (Ranking: No. 6 weakside DE)

Nick Haynes: He was one of UK’s lowest-ranked signees in 2013, but he developed into a team captain and arguably the Cats’ best offensive lineman, battled diabetes late in his career and ultimately left the team before the Music City Bowl in December. A few weeks before that, he sent a series of tweets criticizing the UK coaching staff on the eve of the rivalry game against Louisville. (Ranking: No. 94 OG)

Jacob Hyde: The Clay County star played sparingly in his four seasons with the Wildcats. He did not record a tackle in college. (Ranking: No. 47 DT)

Jaleel Hytchye: He was seen as a major addition at the time of his commitment but played in just nine games in two seasons at UK (and only one as a sophomore) before leaving in 2015. He transferred to Georgia State but never played for the Panthers. (Ranking: No. 60 CB)

Jojo Kemp: He had at least 70 carries in four of his seasons at Kentucky, finishing off his career with a total of 1,709 yards and 19 touchdowns. He’ll be an assistant coach at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington this season. (Ranking: No. 17 all-purpose back)

Melvin Lewis: A late addition to UK’s 2013 class, Lewis did not have a star ranking coming out of junior college, but he developed into one of the Wildcats’ most important defensive players before suffering a broken leg late in 2015 — his final season of eligibility. (No ranking)

Austin MacGinnis: He wrapped up his UK career a few weeks ago as the program’s all-time leading scorer. He connected several huge field goals in his four seasons with the Cats. Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story suggested last fall that MacGinnis should be the first UK kicker to have his jersey retired. (Ranking: No. 8 kicker)

Za’Darius Smith is the only Mark Stoops recruit to be selected in the NFL Draft. Herald-Leader

Blake McClain: He had 180 tackles and three interceptions in four seasons with Kentucky. (Ranking: No. 79 safety)

Marcus McWilson: The No. 11 athlete in the class, McWilson was the second-highest-ranked member of UK’s 2013 group (behind Hatcher). He had 69 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown as a senior in 2016. McWilson had a total of 173 tackles and four interceptions (and two TDs) over four seasons.

Kyle Meadows: UK’s top-rated O-lineman for 2013 — Meadows played in 44 games as a Wildcat and started games in each of his last three seasons. He was a senior in 2017. (Ranking: No. 45 OT)

Regie Meant: He had 66 tackles over his first two seasons and was expected to be one of the Cats’ top defensive players in 2016 before leaving the team for personal reasons a few weeks before the start of the season. He ended up at Jacksonville State. (Ranking: No. 66 weakside DE)

Ramsey Meyers: He started 28 games at right guard for UK before Buncy Stallings took over that spot midway through the 2016 season. Meyers decided to end his football career later that fall with one season of eligibility remaining. “I think at that point, he’s exhausted,” Stoops said at the time. “Four years and he’s going to graduate in May. I think he’d just as soon let it go at that point.” (Ranking: No. 64 OG)

Alex Montgomery: He also decided to end his football career in 2016 with one season of eligibility remaining. He had two touchdown catches as a true freshman but suffered three serious knee injuries in college. He’ll be an assistant coach at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington this season. (Ranking: No. 114 WR)

Reese Phillips: He played in four games over two seasons as a backup with the Wildcats after redshirting in 2013. He transferred to Montana for the 2016 season and emerged as the starter in 2017 before suffering a devastating leg injury last fall. (Ranking: No. 77 pro-style QB)

Za’Darius Smith: A four-star recruit and top-20 junior-college prospect, Smith was an instant-impact addition at UK and amassed 10.5 sacks over two seasons with the Wildcats before being selected in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He’s played in 42 games over three NFL seasons so far. (Ranking: No. 3 juco weakside DE)

Khalid Thomas: He signed with UK but as dismissed from the team shortly after his arrival in Lexington. He ran for 2,653 yards in four seasons at Alabama State. (Ranking: No. 18 all-purpose back)

Ryan Timmons: Local star from Franklin County was the No. 4-ranked recruit in UK’s 2013 class. He had 112 receptions for 1,254 yards and five touchdowns over four seasons as a wide receiver with the Cats. (No. 29 RB)

Nate Willis: He had 58 tackles and one interception in his two seasons with the Wildcats. (Ranking: No. 3 juco CB)

Class of 2014

Total signees: 28

Class ranking: 22nd (10th SEC)

Summary: Mark Stoops’ first full class at Kentucky was the program’s best ever in the modern era of recruiting rankings. This is the class that featured UK’s extensive push into the state of Ohio, and 10 players from the overall group were ranked as four-star players by (only six were four-star players in the composite rankings). In-state stars Drew Barker and Matt Elam were the highlights of the class, though neither lived up to the recruiting hype that surrounded them in high school. Half the class left UK with eligibility remaining.

Four-star players: Drew Barker, Matt Elam, Darius West, Denzil Ware, Boom Williams, Thaddeus Snodgrass.

Numbers game: 25 high school players (only 11 completed their eligibility at UK; Boom Williams declared early for the NFL Draft but was not selected). Three junior-college transfers (all three completed their eligibility at UK).

Dorian Baker: He caught 88 passes for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns over his first three seasons before suffering a serious ankle injury last fall that sidelined him for the entire 2017 campaign. He’ll return this year for his senior season. (Ranking: No. 96 WR)

Drew Barker: One of the state’s most highly touted football prospects in years, Barker helped get Stoops’ recruiting momentum going with his commitment to the Cats. He won the starting job as a sophomore, but a back injury cut short that season and he returned as the backup last season. Barker announced plans to transfer for his final season a few weeks ago, but he has since decided to end his football career and concentrate on his remaining studies at UK. He threw five touchdown passes in 11 games (six starts) for the Wildcats. (Ranking: No. 5 pro-style QB)

Blake Bone: He caught 52 passes for 720 yards and five touchdowns in four seasons with the Cats. (Ranking: No. 73 WR)

Tymere Dubose: He has recorded at least one tackle in seven games over three seasons after sitting out 2014 as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 73 DT)

Mike Edwards: One of the top players on the current team, Edwards passed up a shot at the NFL Draft this offseason to return to UK for his senior year. He has started 31 games over three seasons and led the Cats in tackles in 2017. (Ranking: No. 24 safety)

Quarterback Drew Barker, left, and defensive lineman Matt Elam were major in-state recruits in the 2014 class. Herald-Leader

Matt Elam: Like Barker, the addition of Elam — a five-star recruit, according to 247Sports — was seen as a major recruiting coup at the time. He had 50 tackles over four season with the Wildcats. (Ranking: No. 15 DT)

Nico Firios: He redshirted in 2014, played sparingly in 2015 and 2016, and was sidelined by multiple injuries before leaving the team early last year. (Ranking: No. 58 OLB)

Ryan Flannigan: A junior-college linebacker, Flannigan had 110 tackles in two seasons with the Wildcats. (Ranking: No. 7 juco OLB)

Dorian Hendrix: He sat out as a redshirt in 2014, then transferred to Bowling Green for the 2015 season without ever playing for the Cats. He’s had 15 tackles in 18 games at Bowling Green. (Ranking: No. 32 ILB)

Mikel Horton: A highly touted running back, Horton ran for 636 yards and five touchdowns in three seasons, getting only three carries in the first four games of his junior year before deciding to leave the team. (Ranking: No. 25 RB)

Cory “C.J.” Johnson: A junior-college defensive lineman, Johnson had 67 tackles and two sacks as a senior for UK in 2015. (Ranking: No. 6 juco DT)

Garrett Johnson: He led UK with 48 catches and 539 receiving yards as a senior last season. In four years at UK, Johnson had 2,089 receiving yards, the fourth-most in program history. His 155 career receptions are good enough for fifth on UK’s all-time list. He also had 11 touchdown catches. (Ranking: No. 99 WR)

Josh Krok: The 6-foot-8 offensive lineman sat out 2014 as a redshirt and then transferred before the 2015 season. He ended up at Akron. (Ranking: No 47 OT)

Jarrett LaRubbio: He played in one game as a redshirt freshman in 2015 before transferring to Miami (Ohio). (Ranking: No. 34 OG)

Darryl Long: He played primarily on special teams in 2015, then transferred to Akron, where he sat out in 2016 and didn’t catch a pass last season (Ranking: No. 25 TE)

Adrian Middleton: The Kentucky native has become a major part of the Cats’ defensive front. He’s had 60 tackles as a starter over the past two seasons. (Ranking: No. 39 DT)

Kendall Randolph: He had a career-high 29 tackles as a senior this past season, finishing his UK career with 71 tackles over four years. (Ranking: No. 31 CB)

Nick Richardson: pegged Richardson as a four-star recruit, but he sat out the 2014 season as a redshirt and left the team before the 2015 season. (Ranking: No. 37 OT)

Thaddeus Snodgrass: The top-ranked wide receiver in UK’s class, Snodgrass never caught a pass for the Wildcats and left midway through the 2015 season. He had five touchdown catches in 2017 for Wittenberg University, a Division III school in Ohio. (Ranking: No. 40 WR)

Bunchy Stallings: An under-the-radar addition to the Wildcats’ class, Stallings has become an important member of the team’s offensive line, taking over as a starter midway through his sophomore season. (Ranking: No. 28 center)

A.J. Stamps: He had 124 tackles and five interceptions — four picks as a junior — in his two seasons of eligibility for the Wildcats, providing an instant impact in the defensive backfield after transferring from East Mississippi Community College. (Ranking: No. 14 juco safety)

Lloyd Tubman: The Louisville high school standout never played for UK and was expelled from campus following rape allegations and a sexual misconduct investigation by the university in late 2014. He transferred to Austin Peay University. (Ranking: No. 26 weakside defensive end)

Jared Tucker: He sat out 2014 as a redshirt, played sparingly as a freshman in 2015, then decided to transfer to Eastern Kentucky before the 2016 season. He had seven tackles in 11 games for the Colonels in 2017. (Ranking: No. 69 safety)

Kobie Walker: He redshirted in 2014, was academically ineligible in 2015, then battled injuries that limited his playing time in 2016. He played in three games in 2016 but was sidelined with a shoulder injury, then decided to leave the team early last year. (Ranking: No. 40 safety)

Denzil Ware: One of UK’s top defensive players, Ware had 47 tackles and was second on the team in sacks and tackles for loss last season. He has 13 sacks and 157 tackles in three seasons as a Wildcat so far. (Ranking: No. 13 weakside defensive end)

Darius West: Much of his early college career was riddled with injuries, but West has emerged as a key figure in UK’s defensive backfield. He was third on the team with 86 tackles this past season, including 11 tackles in the Cats’ bowl loss to Northwestern. (Ranking: No. 17 safety)

Boom Williams: One of the marquee names in UK’s 2014 class, Williams led the Cats in rushing in each of his three seasons at Kentucky before declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft (though he was not selected in that draft). He finished his career seventh on UK’s all-time rushing chart with 2,511 yards on 366 carries (6.9 yards per carry). (Ranking: No. 6 all-purpose back)

T.V. Williams: He had five catches for 59 yards in 10 games for the Wildcats, then decided to transfer after two seasons. He ended up at Texas State. (Ranking: No. 97 WR)

Class of 2015

Total signees: 22

Class ranking: 38th (13th SEC)

Summary: Mark Stoops’ smallest class — in terms of numbers — at Kentucky so far, the 2015 group wasn’t big on star power but included several players who emerged as key contributors in UK’s back-to-back bowl runs. The biggest storyline throughout the 2015 cycle was the recruitment of local running back Damien Harris, a five-star prospect who strongly considered Kentucky before ultimately signing with Alabama.

Four-star players: Eli Brown, C.J. Conrad.

Numbers game: 20 high school players (14 are still at UK, three transferred and three more never joined the team after signing). Two junior-college transfers (one completed his eligibility at UK).

Josh Allen: A late addition to the 2015 class, Allen was an under-the-radar prospect in New Jersey who turned into one of the Wildcats’ biggest recruiting steals, and one of the team’s most important defensive players. He has started 21 of 38 games in three seasons, and he led the Cats with seven sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in 2017. (Ranking: No. 97 weakside DE)

George Asafo-Adjei: The top offensive lineman in UK’s class, Asafo-Adjei broke into the rotation with three starts at right tackle as a true freshman. He has played in 36 games through three seasons as a Wildcat. (Ranking: No. 48 OT)

Derrick Baity: He started the final four games of his true freshman season at cornerback and has started 25 of 26 games over the past two seasons. He had two interceptions and a team-high nine pass breakups in 2017. (Ranking: No. 93 CB)

Kei Beckham: He played in one game as a redshirt freshman in 2016 and hadn’t played at all as a sophomore when he decided to transfer early last season. (Ranking: No. 58 CB)

Alvonte Bell: After ending up back at UK two years after originally signing with the Cats, Bell redshirted in 2015, made four starts in 2016, then was dismissed from the team last summer with one season of eligibility remaining. He ended up at the University of West Georgia. (Ranking: No. 12 juco weakside DE)

Eli Brown: A Kentucky high school star, Brown was the highest-rated signee nationally in UK’s class, coming in as the No. 260 prospect overall. He had 24 tackles in 12 games as a redshirt freshman, then started five games (and played in 12 total) last season as a sophomore. (Ranking: No. 20 OLB)

C.J. Conrad: The Cats’ No. 2 signee behind Brown in the 2015 class, Conrad has 50 catches and nine touchdowns in three seasons as the Wildcats’ starting tight end. He led the team in TD receptions last season. (Ranking: No. 11 TE)

Kengera Daniel: He has 10 tackles and one sack in 23 games as a Wildcat, and he played in 12 games as a junior last season. (Ranking: No. 32 weakside DE)

Therrell Gosier: A three-star wide receiver, Gosier didn’t qualify academically out of high school and ended up at Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he’s a sophomore starter for the basketball team this season. (Ranking: No. 127 WR)

Jabari Greenwood: He sat out 2015 as a redshirt, played in 13 games in 2016 (mostly on special teams) and then transferred to Towson, a Division I FCS school. He led Towson with 53 catches and 616 yards last season. (Ranking: No. 63 WR)

Jordan Jones led Kentucky in tackles as a sophomore in 2016. Michael Reaves

Will Jackson: After sitting out as a redshirt in 2015, Jackson was dismissed from the program for a violation of team rules early the next year. He was a freshman at Mesa Community College (Ariz.) last season. (Ranking: No. 214 ATH)

Jordan Jones: He started all 13 games in his sophomore season — leading the Cats in tackles that year and earning all-SEC second-team honors — before injuries and disciplinary issues limited his time to eight starts in nine games last season. He was still fifth on the team in tackles and third in tackles for loss in 2017. (Ranking: No. 33 OLB)

Sihiem King: He’s played in all 38 of UK’s games over the past three seasons, serving as a primary kickoff returner and a backup running back. King has 101 carries for 572 yards and four touchdowns as a Wildcat. (Ranking: No. 80 running back)

Levon Livingston: He never made it to UK’s campus, ending up at Navarro College in Texas and recently signed with Southern Methodist as a juco prospect. (Ranking: No. 84 OT)

Courtney Miggins: A top-50 junior-college prospect, Miggins started all 13 games his senior season — playing in 24 games over two seasons at UK (Ranking: No. 3 juco DT).

Javon Provitt: He didn’t qualify academically out of high school. (Ranking: No. 77 DT)

Tavin Richardson: In two seasons at UK, he has 36 catches for 531 yards and one touchdown, and was second on the team (behind Garrett Johnson) in receptions and receiving yards last fall as a sophomore. (No. 112 WR)

Logan Stenberg: One of UK’s top offensive linemen, Stenberg started all 13 games at left guard as a sophomore last season and was the only O-lineman on the team to start in every game. (Ranking: No. 75 OT)

Calvin Taylor: A late addition to UK’s class and a zero-star recruit coming out of high school, Taylor has played in 15 games over two seasons (recording 22 tackles and earning one start in 2017). (No ranking)

Marcus Walker: The No. 3-rated high school player in UK’s class, Walker has 17 tackles in 21 games as a Wildcat after sitting out 2015 as a redshirt player. (Ranking: No. 23 safety)

Chris Westry: Though not among the most highly touted of UK’s recruits, Westry started the first 33 games of his career over two and a half seasons until Lonnie Johnson replaced him as a starting cornerback toward the end of the 2017 campaign. He has three interceptions and 113 tackles in three seasons. (Ranking: No. 88 CB)

Mason Wolfe: A Henderson County standout, Wolfe sat out 2015 as a redshirt and has played sparingly in two seasons since. (Ranking: No. 97 OG)

Class of 2016

Total signees: 25

Class ranking: 34th (12th SEC)

Summary: This class was highlighted by five in-state players who decided to stay home and play for UK: Landon Young, Drake Jackson, Davonte Robinson, Zy’Aire Hughes and Mr. Football winner Kash Daniel. The 2016 group also included three-star running back Benny Snell, who is already among the Wildcats’ leading rushers of all time after just two seasons, and quarterback Stephen Johnson, who led UK to two straight bowl appearances. Several members of this signing class have yet to make a noticeable contribution to the program but are still seen as potential stars of the future.

Four-star players: Landon Young, Drake Jackson, Kash Daniel.

Numbers game: 20 high school players (17 are still at UK and three have transferred). Five junior-college transfers (three completed their eligibility at UK, one transferred and one graduated and left the team with one season of eligibility remaining).

Jordan Bonner: A junior-college addition, Bonner had 10 tackles in 11 games in 2016 but was limited to just four games due to injury last season. He decided to forgo his final season of eligibility and go through Senior Day festivities with the team in November. (Ranking: No. 4 juco OLB)

Jaylin Bannerman: The “jack” linebacker recruit sat out in 2016 as a redshirt and didn’t register a defensive statistic last season. He was working out with the tight ends at one point, though he’s still listed as a linebacker. (Ranking: No. 58 weakside DE)

T.J. Carter: He played in 11 games as a true freshman and then started 12 of 13 games last season as a sophomore — placing fourth on the team with three sacks. (Ranking: No. 79 strongside DE)

Ja’Quize Cross: He announced last month that he is transferring from UK. He never recorded a defensive stat for the Wildcats. (Ranking: No. 83 DT)

Kash Daniel: Kentucky’s Mr. Football in 2016, Daniel recorded 19 tackles in 13 games as a true freshman, playing primarily special teams. He had seven tackles in 13 games last season. (Ranking: No. 12 inside linebacker)

Luke Fortner: A redshirt in 2016, Fortner remains a backup offensive lineman. (Ranking: No. 115 OT)

Tobias Gilliam: He recorded three tackles in six games last season after sitting out 2016 as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 66 CB)

Jordan Griffin: The top out-of-state high school recruit in UK’s 2016 class, Griffin played in eight games as a true freshman and recorded 22 tackles in 13 games (with one start) last season. (Ranking: No. 37 CB)

Gunnar Hoak: The only QB recruit in UK’s 2016 class, Hoak has not yet thrown a college pass and has three seasons of eligibility remaining. He’s expected to be junior-college transfer Terry Wilson’s main competition for the starting QB job in 2018. (Ranking: No. 40 pro-style QB)

Dakota Holtzclaw: He left UK last year before ever playing for the team. (Ranking: No. 42 TE)

Benny Snell is already among UK’s all-time leading rushers. Alex Slitz

Zy’Aire Hughes: McCracken County standout had one tackle in seven games as a redshirt freshman last season. (Ranking: No. 51 athlete)

Drake Jackson: Woodford County standout emerged as the team’s starting center midway through last season after sitting out as a redshirt in 2016. (Ranking: No. 2 center)

Stephen Johnson: A late junior-college addition, Johnson took over starting QB duties when Drew Barker was injured early in the 2016 season and led UK to two consecutive bowl appearances. He threw for 4,342 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions (also running for eight TDs) in his two seasons of eligibility. (Ranking: No. 5 juco dual-threat QB)

Tate Leavitt: The Cats’ No. 4-ranked recruit in this class, Leavitt came to UK from the juco ranks and was expected to contend for a starting job on the O-line, but he never broke into the rotation. He announced his transfer last fall and is now at Indiana State. (Ranking: No. 5 juco OT)

Kordell Looney: He had 10 tackles in 11 games as a redshirt freshman last season. (Ranking: No. 57 DT)

Grant McKinniss: He struggled in his true freshman season (39.2 yards per punt with 10 kicks inside the 20) and lost the starting job to grad transfer Matt Panton last season. (Ranking: No. 7 punter)

Naquez Pringle: An under-the-radar addition, Pringle started five games as a junior in 2016 and recorded 16 tackles in seven starts, playing all 13 games of his senior season last fall. (Ranking: No. 27 juco DT)

Justin Rigg: He played in two games as a true freshman before suffering a rib injury. Rigg had three catches for 40 yards last season. (Ranking: No. 67 TE)

Davonte Robinson: A football and track star at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, Robinson sat out 2016 as a redshirt and played all 13 games last season — starting one and recording 19 tackles. (Ranking: No. 89 CB)

A.J. Rose: He had 15 carries for 37 yards as a redshirt freshman last season. (Ranking: No. 85 athlete)

Kayaune Ross: He was third on the team last season with 19 catches for 286 yards. Ross had two catches (one for a TD) in six games as a junior-college transfer in 2016. He is out of eligibility at UK. (Ranking: No. 18 juco WR)

Benny Snell: Snell ran for 1,098 yards and 13 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2016 (both were UK records for a freshman), then ran for 1,333 yards and 19 touchdowns this past season. Snell is already No. 2 on UK’s all-time TDs list (behind Randall Cobb) and eighth on UK’s all-time rushing list with two seasons of eligibility remaining. (Ranking: No. 56 RB)

Roland Walder: He announced last summer that he would transfer from UK before ever playing a game for the team. He’s now at Bowling Green. (Ranking: No. 59 ILB)

Jamar Watson: He had seven tackles and two sacks in 13 games as a redshirt freshman last season. (Ranking: No. 116 OLB)

Landon Young: The highest-rated member of UK’s 2016 class, Young was a multi-sport star at Lafayette High in Lexington and committed to the Cats after his freshman season of high school. He broke into the O-line rotation as a true freshman and started several games at left tackle last season. (Ranking: No. 6 OT)

Class of 2017

Total signees: 24

Class ranking: 30th (11th SEC)

Summary: The players in this class have been at UK for only one season, so there’s obviously ample time left in their college careers to emerge as key members of the program. Nine 2017 signees played for UK last season (the rest sat out as redshirts). Do-it-all Ohio recruit Lynn Bowden was the highest-rated prospect in the class, and he’s expected to be one of the Wildcats’ biggest offensive threats over the next few seasons. Kentucky’s biggest recruiting miss in the class was five-star offensive lineman Jedrick Wills, who played at nearby Lafayette High School but ended up signing with Alabama.

Four-star players: Lynn Bowden, Joshua Paschal, Tyrell Ajian, Javonte Richardson, Yusuf Corker.

Numbers game: 22 high school players (20 are still at UK and two have already transferred). Two junior-college transfers (both are still at UK).

Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 54 strongside DE)

Tyrell Ajian: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 16 athlete)

Josh Ali: He had three catches for 25 yards in nine games last season. (Ranking: No. 54 athlete)

Quinton Bohanna: He emerged as a starter (three games) and a major piece of UK’s defensive line for the future last season, playing in 12 games total and recording 14 tackles. (Ranking: No. 70 DT)

Lynn Bowden was UK’s top-ranked signee last year. Alex Slitz

Lynn Bowden: The highest-rated player in UK’s class, Bowden had 17 catches for 210 yards, ran for 37 yards and completed three of four passes for 92 yards last season. (Ranking: No. 4 athlete)

Danny Clark: Former Ohio State QB commitment sat out last season as a redshirt player. (Ranking: No. 15 pro-style QB)

Yusuf Corker: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 36 CB)

Jamin Davis: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 60 OLB)

Sebastien Dolcine: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 39 OG)

Cedrick Dort: He had six tackles in nine games last season. (Ranking: No. 160 CB)

Austin Dotson: Belfry High standout sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 142 OT)

Isaiah Epps: He had four catches for 55 yards in nine games last season. (Ranking: No. 206 WR)

Phil Hoskins: Junior-college transfer had two tackles in seven games last season and still has two years of eligibility remaining. (Ranking: No. 5 juco DT)

Lonnie Johnson: Junior-college transfer started the last five games of the season and finished with 41 tackles, five pass breakups, three tackles for loss and two blocked kicks. He has one season of eligibility left. (Ranking: No. 5 juco safety)

Alex King: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 38 weakside DE)

Bryant Koback: He announced following the 2017 season that he planned to transfer to be closer to home. Koback never played for UK and is now at Toledo. (Ranking: No. 34 RB)

Michael Nesbitt: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 83 CB)

Josh Paschal: Highly touted recruit had 17 tackles in 13 games (one start) and was third on the team with 3.5 sacks as a true freshman last season. (Ranking: No. 11 strongside DE)

Javonte Richardson: The No. 4 recruit in the class, Richardson did not play for UK in 2017 and announced after the season that he is transferring. He’s now at Iowa Western, a junior-college program. (Ranking: No. 42 WR)

Clevan Thomas: He had one catch for four yards last season. (Ranking: No. 102 WR)

Naasir Watkins: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 103 OT)

Chris Whittaker: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 65 weakside DE)

Walker Wood: Star QB at Lafayette High sat out last season as a redshirt. (No. 20 dual-threat QB)

Jordan Wright: Sat out last season as a redshirt. (Ranking: No. 28 weakside DE)

Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops says one assistant coach was largely responsible for the eight recruits UK signed out of Florida.

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @BenRobertsHL

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader