UK Football

Kentucky football recruiting notes: Camp season for Cats starts this weekend

Mark Stoops and the rest of the UK coaching staff will hold several camps on campus over the next few weeks. The camps will attract some of the Wildcats’ top recruiting targets.
Mark Stoops and the rest of the UK coaching staff will hold several camps on campus over the next few weeks. The camps will attract some of the Wildcats’ top recruiting targets. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

The University of Kentucky’s football coaches will be back on the field this weekend, which marks the opening of the Wildcats’ summer camp season for high school players.

UK’s camp schedule begins with the Saturday Night Prime Time Camp and Sunday Showcase camp — both at Commonwealth Stadium — and should bring some of the Wildcats’ top commitments and recruiting targets to town. UK’s coaches will provide on-field instruction, and there will be tours of the school’s facilities and an opportunity for high school players to get more familiar with the program.

Class of 2017 commitments Tyrell Ajian and Bryant Koback told the Herald-Leader they will be in town for part of the camp schedule, which runs through Wednesday.

Another high-profile 2017 commitment, Russ Yeast, said he was looking at a trip to Lexington on either Sunday or Monday, and other UK pledges could also end up attending.

These camps can serve as important evaluation periods for UK’s coaches, who regularly extend scholarship offers to attendees who catch their eye.

A couple players to watch this weekend will be running back Morgan Ellison and defensive back Tycen Anderson, both from the class of 2017.

Ellison — a three-star back from Pickerington, Ohio — is also attending camps at Georgia and Pittsburgh. The Cats recently lost the commitment of three-star running back Michael Warren, and Koback is currently their lone commitment at the position for next year.

Anderson — a 6-2 prospect from Toledo, Ohio — is currently committed to his hometown university but recently picked up a UK scholarship offer and has drawn the attention of other major programs. A solid camp performance this weekend could make the Cats push harder in his recruitment.

UK will host more camps next month, finishing up the summer with the Sunday Night Lights Camp on July 17.

Representing the Cats

One high-profile recruit that won’t be in Lexington this weekend is quarterback Mac Jones, who is competing in the Elite 11 finals in Los Angeles.

Jones, the Wildcats’ first commitment for the class of 2017 last July, was one of 24 quarterbacks invited to the annual showcase, which will determine who advances to Nike’s The Opening event next month in Oregon.

This weekend’s Elite 11 finals — made up entirely of quarterbacks from the class of 2017 — includes players that have already committed to such schools as Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Texas and Texas A&M. Fourteen of the invitees are ranked in the top 10 in the class at either the pro-style QB or dual-threat QB position, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

Jones, who has received scholarship offers from Alabama, California, Louisville, Texas A&M and several other schools since committing to UK, is the No. 15 pro-style quarterback in those rankings.

Trip to South Bend

Lafayette offensive tackle Jedrick Wills remains UK’s highest-ranked recruiting target for the class of 2017, and he’s scheduled for a visit next week to what could be the Cats’ top competition.

Wills — a 6-foot-4, 305-pound prospect — will visit Notre Dame on Wednesday. The trip was first reported by Rivals.com, which ranks Wills as the No. 3 offensive tackle and No. 16 overall player nationally in the 2017 class.

Though Wills released a list of his final 10 schools last month, the hometown Wildcats have long been seen as the likely favorite among many national recruiting analysts. But 247Sports national analyst Steve Wiltfong predicted last month that the Lexington native would ultimately end up with the Fighting Irish.

Wills’ other finalists are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Tennessee, and he has scholarship offers from all of those schools.

The right decision

Reigning Kentucky Mr. Football and Wildcats freshman linebacker Kash Daniel enrolled early at UK in January to get a head start on classes and participate in spring practice.

Daniel posted a letter to UK fans on social media Thursday, and it sounds like he’s happy with his early enrollment.

“I can honestly say it was the best decision of my life,” Daniel wrote. “I have gained more football knowledge in one semester than I have in my whole life. In my practices this spring I made a lot of rookie mistakes, and that hurts because I want to be the best player that I can possibly be. But with the help of my fellow (linebackers) who have taken me under their wing like a little brother, and the best LB coach and defensive coordinator in the game, Coach (D.J.) Eliot, I learned so much.”

Daniel promised UK fans that he would be a “hard worker, hard nosed, tough and coachable player,” and he made it clear that he has high expectations for the program.

“I want to leave the University of Kentucky with a handful of rings and teammates I can call brothers for the rest of my life,” he wrote. “I’m very excited to get back to campus next week and begin the journey to becoming SEC champions.”

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @NextCats

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