UK Football

UK expected to host several highly touted football recruits this weekend

UK Coach Mark Stoops, right, recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow and the rest of the Wildcats’ coaching staff will host several talented high school prospects on campus this weekend.
UK Coach Mark Stoops, right, recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow and the rest of the Wildcats’ coaching staff will host several talented high school prospects on campus this weekend. palcala@herald-leader.com

The University of Kentucky football program wraps up its series of on-campus summer recruiting events this weekend, and the latest group of high school camps is expected to bring in one of the team’s most talented collections of visitors in recent years.

Several of the Wildcats’ commitments for the class of 2017 — they have 10 pledges so far — are scheduled to be in Lexington on Saturday and Sunday. That list includes nationally ranked Ohio standouts Tyrell Ajian and Javonte Richardson.

UK’s lone commitment from the class of 2018 — promising Georgia quarterback Jarren Williams — is also expected to visit for the first time since he announced his pledge to the Cats last month. Williams will be one of several highly touted players from the 2018 class on campus this weekend, but the more immediate interest is on the many uncommitted prospects from the class of 2017 who are planning to attend.

UK is expecting to host several four-star recruits for the camp weekend, which will include a 7-on-7 team passing competition and a “big man camp” for offensive and defensive linemen on Saturday, followed by the Sunday Night Lights Camp on Sunday.

Guest lists for major football recruiting events are always subject to change. That said, here’s a quick look at 10 of the top class of 2017 prospects who have been confirmed by the Herald-Leader as planning to visit UK this weekend (it’s likely that additional targets will also show up on campus Saturday and/or Sunday):

Lynn Bowden: A consensus four-star recruit, Bowden is ranked by 247Sports as one of the top 100 prospects nationally and the No. 3 player in the class at the “athlete” position. Hailing from the Youngstown, Ohio, area — the hometown of UK Coach Mark Stoops and top recruiter Vince Marrow — Bowden has reported scholarship offers from Michigan, Penn State and Tennessee.

Danny Davis: One of the top prospects from the state of Ohio, Davis is a longtime UK recruiting target. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 15 wide receiver in the 2017 class, and the Cats would love to pair the 6-foot-2 recruit with fellow Ohioan and four-star receiver Javonte Richardson. Other leading contenders for Davis include Michigan State, Penn State and West Virginia.

Morgan Ellison: UK already has a commitment from running back Bryant Koback, but the Cats could add another player at that position, and Ellison is on this weekend’s guest list after missing a scheduled visit to Lexington earlier this summer. 247Sports ranks the Ohio native as the No. 28 running back in the class.

Justin Marshall: The 6-2 wide receiver from Georgia recently called Louisville the top school in his recruitment, but he’s still expected to visit UK this weekend (along with a trip to U of L while he’s in the area). Marshall is considered a four-star recruit, and ESPN ranks him as the No. 32 receiver in the class.

Emmanuel McNeil: A high school teammate of UK quarterback commitment Jarren Williams, McNeil is a big-time defensive tackle recruit with reported scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Louisiana State, Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Rivals.com ranks the 6-5, 280-pounder as the No. 20 DT in the class.

Thayer Munford: A Cincinnati native, Munford was on UK’s radar early in the recruiting process and will return to Lexington for the first time since last fall. The 6-6, 325-pound offensive tackle will play his senior season in Massillon, Ohio, and picked up a scholarship offer from Alabama last month.

Ahman Ross: The high school teammate and close friend of four-star quarterback Mac Jones is still being recruited by the Wildcats despite Jones’ decommitment. Ross — a 5-11 defensive back from Jacksonville, Fla. — was previously committed to Miami, and Louisville will be among UK’s top competition in his recruitment. ESPN ranks Ross as the No. 28 safety in the class.

Joshua Samuel: Another running back on the Cats’ radar, Samuel does not yet have a scholarship offer from Kentucky. Scout.com ranks the 6-foot prospect as the No. 65 running back in the class, and he’s a high school teammate of UK commitment Jarren Williams and fellow weekend visitor Emmanuel McNeil.

B.J. Sharpe: A three-star defensive end from Macon, Ga., Sharpe has reported scholarship offers from Alabama and Mississippi State (UK offered in May). 247Sports ranks the 6-3, 260-pound prospect as the No. 38 strongside DE in the class.

MJ Webb: One of the highest-rated players on UK’s visitor list, Webb has reported scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisiana State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and the list goes on. The 6-3, 275-pound defensive lineman visited Lexington earlier this year, and the Cats are thought to have a legitimate shot in his recruitment. Rivals.com ranks Webb as the No. 10 defensive tackle and No. 196 overall prospect in the class.

Local quarterback commitment Walker Wood will be with his Lafayette High School teammates at the Powerade 7-on-7 competition in Charlotte this weekend, and he won’t be able to attend UK’s camps. Lafayette teammate and five-star offensive tackle Jedrick Wills — the Cats’ top remaining target in the 2017 class — also is not expected at this weekend’s camps.

The University of Louisville will host its biggest recruiting event of the summer this weekend. The Cardinals’ guest list is expected to include former UK commitments James Hudson, Michael Warren and Russ Yeast, as well as a handful of players who will also be participating in the Wildcats’ camps.

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @NextCats

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