Jen Smith on UK Football

Your first look at Kentucky’s 2019 signing class.

A first look at Kentucky’s class of 2019 signees as they roll in ...

Taj Dodson, Defensive Back, 6-2, 190, Fr-HS, Union Grove, Ga. (Creekside) – A consensus three-star recruit by all the major recruiting services … Coached by Region 5-6A Coach of the Year Maurice Dixon … Had 19 returns for 737 yards and two touchdowns, including a 92-yard score … Named first-team All-Region 5-6A after totaling 86 tackles, 12 PBUs, two interceptions, one sack and once forced fumble in 2018 … Also had seven catches for 106 yards … Chose Kentucky over Syracuse, Louisville and Ole Miss .. First name is pronounced the same as Taj Mahal.

K.D. McDaniel, Outside Linebacker, 6-2, 240, Fr-HS, Tifton, Ga. (Tift County) – Consensus pick as one of the nation’s top-40 outside linebackers and one of the top-61 players in Georgia by Rivals, 247sports and ESPN … First-team all-region as a junior and senior, with this year’s all-state teams yet to be selected by signing day … Helped lead Tift County to the state playoff quarterfinals in Class AAAAAAA (largest classification) as both a junior and senior … Coached by Ashley Anders … Chose Kentucky over Ole Miss, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Nik Ognenovic, Tight End, 6-5, 250, Fr-HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons) – Last name pronounced “Oh-GIN-oh-vick” … A three-star prospect by all of the major recruiting experts and considered one of the nation’s top tight ends … Caught 11 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown as a senior in helping Cardinal Gibbons win the program’s first state title in Class 5A … As a junior, caught eight passes for 57 yards and a score … The pair teamed together to win the Adidas 7-on-7 National Championship with South Florida Express in the spring of 2018 … Coached by Matt DuBuc … Also a talented basketball player … Chose Kentucky over Pitt, Boston College and Louisville … High school teammate of fellow signee Nik Scalzo.

Jake Pope, Offensive Line, 6-7, 290, Fr-HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas) – A three-star tackle by all of the major recruiting services … Listed as one of Florida’s top 100 players … Helped lead perennial powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas to a 13-2 overall record, a district championship and the 7A state championship runner-up title in 2018 … Selected to play in the Blue-Grey All American Bowl on Jan. 5, 2019 in Tampa, Florida … Coached by Roger Harriott … Chose Kentucky over Michigan State and N.C. State.

Nik Scalzo, Quarterback, 6-0, 175, Fr-HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons) – A three-star prospect by all of the major recruiting services … Rated one of Florida’s top-10 quarterbacks … A dual-threat passer who led Cardinal Gibbons to a combined 32-6 record in his three seasons as a starter … Completed 59.6 percent of his passes (522 for 876) for 6,471 yards with 74 touchdowns to only 23 interceptions in three seasons … Also rushed for 613 yards on 147 carries with four scores in his career … Helped lead the Chiefs to their first Florida 5A state championship as a senior, completing 173-of-279 passes for 2,185 yards and 24 touchdowns before injury sidelined him in the regional semifinal … Earned first-team All-State and first-team All-County honors by the Sun Sentinel … As a junior, completed 175-of-307 passes for 2,065 yards and 23 touchdowns in leading the Chiefs to an 11-2 overall record and his second straight FHSAA Class 5A playoff appearance … As a sophomore, threw for 2,221 yards and 27 touchdowns in leading the Chiefs’ Air-Raid offense to a 9-2 season and regional semifinal appearance … High school teammate of fellow signee Nik Ognenovic … The pair teamed together to win the Adidas 7-on-7 National Championship with South Florida Express in the spring of 2018 … Coached by Matt DuBuc.

Isaiah Gibson, Defensive Line, 6-4, 300, Fr-HS, Springfield, Ohio (Springfield) – Consensus choice as one of the nation’s top-50 defensive tackles and one of the top 33 players in Ohio by all the major recruiting services … Rated as high as the No. 32 DT by 247sports.com and No. 17 in Ohio by ESPN.com … As a senior, helped lead Springfield HS to a 9-3 record and second round of the state playoffs … First-team All-Ohio in Division I (largest classification) … Coached by Maurice Douglass … Maurice was a defensive back at Kentucky in 1984-85 and went on to an 11-year NFL career with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants … Chose Kentucky over Wisconsin, Purdue, Florida and Louisville … Joins high school teammate and fellow signee Moses Douglas.

Jared Casey, Outside Linebacker, 6-3, 230, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Ballard) – A four-star prospect by all of the major recruiting services … Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 15 outside linebacker nationally ... As a senior, totaled 70 tackles, 15.5 TFLs, three sacks and one forced fumble in 11 games for head coach Adrian Morton … Played two seasons at Trinity before transferring to Ballard … Chose UK over Oregon and Louisville.

Eli Cox, Offensive Line, 6-4, 300, Fr-HS, Nicholasville, Ky. (West Jessamine) – A three-star recruit by 247sports.com and Rivals.com … Ranked as the No. 14 Kentucky prospect in the class of 2019 by 247Sports … Has the versatility to play at either offensive guard or tackle … Has been instrumental in West Jessamine improving its win total each season of his prep career … Named to the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl watch list … Represented West Jessamine at the Louisville vs. Bluegrass Senior All-Star Game … Coached by John Gilliam … Chose UK over Cincinnati, Marshall, Ohio and Toledo.

Tae Tae Crumes, Wide Receiver, 6-2, 180, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Butler) – A quality in-state prospect that is ranked as one of the top 10 players in the Commonwealth of Kentucky by Rivals.com and 247sports.com … An incredible senior season at Butler with 42 receptions for 877 yards … Averaged 73.1 receiving yards per game, which was fourth most among all Class 6A players while his 14 receiving touchdowns were third most in the division … Had 30 receptions for 779 yards and 14 touchdowns his junior season … Finished his high school career with 35 touchdowns and 2,021 receiving yards … Was named to the 2018 Lexington Herald-Leader Class of the Commonwealth and was also tabbed an all-state honoree and all-Louisville metro performer this season … Speedy wide receiver that has been timed at 4.3 in the 40-yard dash … Coached by Gary Wheeler … Chose Kentucky over Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon and Pitt.

DeMarcus Harris, Wide receiver, 6-1, 180, Fr-HS, Vero Beach, Fla. (Vero Beach) – Considered one of the nation’s top 150 receivers … A three-star recruit according to 247sports.com and ESPN.com … Became Treasure Coast’s career record holder with 2,864 receiving yards … Only Treasure Coast player to register back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons … Had 1,582 receiving yards with 73 receptions and 16 touchdowns as a senior … Had eight games with at least 100 receiving yards, including a season-high 238 receiving yards on five catches vs. Treasure Coast High School on Oct. 12 … Averaged 131.8 receiving yards per game for the Indians in 2018, helping them finish 11-1 with the loss coming in the 8-A regional final … Recorded 43 catches for 1,001 yards and 11 scores in 2017 and led Vero Beach to the regional finals … Earn first-team all-area and all-state honors … 2017 Class 8A Player of the Year candidate … Head coach Lenny Jankowski said “He’s the total package when it comes to the wide receiver position. As far as wide receivers go, he has a great combination of size and athleticism. His hands have improved to where he’s capable of catching all kinds of different balls all kinds of different ways. He’s really good when the balls not in his hands, too.” … An all-around athlete who also excels in basketball and track and field … Chose Kentucky over Syracuse, Purdue and UCF.

J.J. Weaver, Outside Linebacker, 6-5, 240, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Moore Traditional) – One of the nation’s best linebacker prospects, ranking as the 213th best player in the nation according to Rivals … The site also has Weaver as the 14th best player in the class at his position and the fourth-best prospect in the state of Kentucky … Rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals and 247sports … Recorded 70 tackles, 10 sacks, three interceptions and a fumble recovery this season … His strong performance helped Moore win 11 games and advance to the quarterfinals of the state championships … Also played tight end in high school and caught six passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns last season … Was named to the 2018 Lexington Herald-Leader Class of the Commonwealth … An all-state honoree … Coached by Carlo Stallings … Chose Kentucky over Louisville, Miami and Purdue.

Amani Gilmore, Quarterback, 6-2, 180, Fr-HS, Amite, La. (Amite) – A three-star dual-threat quarterback … 247Sports.com ranks him as the No. 42 pro-style quarterback nationally in the class of 2019 … Led his team to the 2018 Louisiana 2A State Championship, the Warriors’ first championship in 14 years and just the fifth title in team history … Named the game’s Most Outstanding Player after accounting for a remarkable 366 of the team’s 442 yards total yards and six touchdowns … Completed 11-of-17 passes for 286 yards while rushing 23 times for a team-high 80 yards … Totaled over 2,000 total yards in his senior year, including 1,000 rushing yards, while also averaging 40.0 points per game … Dual-sport athlete as he also excels on the baseball diamond as a left-handed pitcher and outfielder … Amite head coach Zephaniah Powell said “Throws the ball very well, is very accurate. Can stay in the pocket, can beat you with his arm from the pocket and also can beat you with his legs from out of the pocket. Very good high IQ when it comes to football. He is a gym rat, loves to lift, loves to work out.”… Chose UK over Tennessee.

Cavon Butler, Defensive Lineman, 6-3, 300, Fr-HS, Toledo, Ohio (Whitmer) – A three-star recruit, who is considered a top-50 interior defensive lineman by Rivals.com and 247sports.com and No. 29 player in Ohio by Rivals … Named Three Rivers Athletic Conference defensive player of the year and was selected first-team All-Northwest District and second-team All-Ohio in Division I (largest classification) … Helped the Panthers to a 21-4 overall record and two Division I playoff appearances … Had 71 tackles as a senior, including nine for loss, along with 7.5 sacks … Caused four fumbles, recovered five fumbles, and scored two touchdowns in helping Whitmer compile a 9-3 overall record in 2018 … As a junior, had 91 tackles (nine for loss) and 12 sacks … Coached by Ken Winters … Comes from same high school as current Wildcat Phil Hoskins … An all-around athlete who also plays basketball and throws the shot put … Recruiting finalists were Michigan State and Ohio State before tabbing the Wildcats.

Marquez Bembry, Outside Linebacker, 6-3, 240, So-JC, Stone Mountain, Ga. (Mount Vernon Presbyterian/Jones County JC) Played for head coach Steve Buckley at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi … Recorded 36 tackles during his redshirt freshman season in 2018, helping the Bobcats finish 10-2 overall and 6-0 in conference play … Advanced to the MACJC State Championship … Led Jones to a 27-7 win over Eastern Arizona in the Mississippi Bowl on Dec. 2, highlighted by his six tackles, including 4.5 TFLs, one QB sack, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery … Rated a three-star pass-rushing specialist out of high school by each of the major recruiting services … Graduated from Jones in December as a two-time Dean’s List member and will enroll at UK in January … Will have three years of eligibility remaining … Played for head coach Wayne Babbs at Mount Vernon Presbyterian High School … Chose Kentucky over Ole Miss and Tennessee.

Tra Wilkins, Linebacker, 6-0, 215, Fr-HS, Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson) – Highly recruited linebacker who chose Kentucky over Louisville, Arkansas and South Carolina … The nation’s No. 46 inside linebacker by 247sports and No. 69 outside linebacker by ESPN … One of the top-100 players in the talent-rich state of Georgia by both selectors … Helped lead Stephenson HS to a 9-2 record and berth in the Class AAAAAA playoffs as a senior … All-state and all-region teams yet to be announced as this was written … Coached by Ron Gartrell … Comes from an athletic family as his cousins include linebacker Sam Maxwell, who helped take Kentucky to four straight bowl games from 2006-09 and was an All-SEC linebacker as a senior, and current Georgia wide receiver/kick returner Mecole Hardman.

Moses Douglass, Defensive Back, 6-2, 200, Fr-HS, Springfield, Ohio (Springfield) – Four-star recruit and one the nation’s top-30 safety prospects by Rivals.com and 247sports.com … The No. 7 prospect in Ohio and one of the nation’s top 300 players by Rivals … As a senior, helped lead Springfield HS to a 9-3 record and second round of the state playoffs … First-team All-Ohio in Division I (largest classification) … Coached by his father, Maurice, at Springfield … Maurice was a defensive back at Kentucky in 1984-85 and went on to an 11-year NFL career with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants … Chose Kentucky over Georgia Tech, Louisville and Michigan State.

Brandin Echols, Defensive Back, 6-0, 180, Jr-JC, Southaven, Miss. (Southaven/Northwest Mississippi CC) – Went to junior college as a receiver but switched to defense back in his freshman season and found his niche … A three-star recruit who ranks as the fifth-best cornerback among junior college recruits by Rivals.com … Earned NJCAA second- team All-America honors … Named first-team All- MACJC and All-Region 23 NJCAA in 2018 after leading the MACJC and ranking second in the NJCAA with six interceptions … His 12 pass breakups ranked fourth in the country … Added 49 tackles, a forced fumble and blocked kick in helping lead Northwest to an 8-2 record and a No. 8 national ranking in the NJCAA … Coached by Benjy Parker … Played for head coach Ed Rich at Southaven High School ... Totaled 11 total tackles, two sacks and an interception as a senior ... Offensively, caught 29 passes for 406 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 906 yards and eight touchdowns … Added 604 return yards with four touchdowns ... Also played basketball and ran track as a senior, earning a spot on Clarion-Ledger’s All-State boys’ track team after winning the state championship in the long jump … Chose Kentucky over offers from Ole Miss, Houston and Memphis … Will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Travis Tisdale, Running Back, 5-9, 175, Fr-HS, Valdosta, Ga. (Lowndes) – A four-star recruit and one of the nation’s top-300 players by ESPN … The nation’s No. 18 running back by ESPN and the No. 11 all-purpose back nationally by Rivals … Rated as high as the No. 33 prospect in Georgia … Region Player of the Year as a senior as he rushed for 1,903 yards and 21 touchdowns, with all-state teams yet to be announced … Led Lowndes HS to a 10-4 record and a berth in the Class AAAAAAA (largest classification) state playoff semifinals … “Dynamic all-purpose back with difference-maker speed and quickness” according to ESPN … Senior season was highlighted by 413 yards and six touchdowns – both of which are school records – against crosstown rival Valdosta High School … Also a 1,000-yard rusher as a sophomore, he set the LHS career record for touchdowns … Coached by Randy McPherson … Dad serves in United States Air Force … Chose Kentucky over Nebraska, Ole Miss and Penn State.

Jalen Geiger, Defensive Back, 6-1, 190, Fr-HS, Columbia, S.C. (Spring Valley) – Last name is pronounced “GI-ger” … A three-star defensive back by 247Sports.com … Considered the No. 9 overall recruit and No. 2 corner in the state of South Carolina by Rivals.com … Competed in the Annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas and finished with four tackles, including two solo … Recorded 71 tackles, three interceptions, four PBUs … Helped the Vikings finish 11-2 with a playoff berth as a junior in 2017 … Coached by Robin Bacon … Transferred to Spring Valley after playing two seasons at Cardinal Newman … Also a basketball player … Chose Kentucky over South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina.

Shawn’Kel Knight-Goff, Linebacker, 6-2, 220, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Doss Magnet Career Academy) – Ranks as one of the top 10 players in the state of Kentucky … A three-star prospect by both Rivals.com and 247Sports.com … 247Sports.com ranks him as one of the 50 best weakside defensive ends in the nation … Had 66 tackles, nine sacks, three fumbles forced and one fumble recovered as a senior … Also was a led the team in receiving with 16 catches for 180 yards as a senior … Posted 50 tackles as a junior with a fumble recovery and interception as a junior … Was named an all-state performer as a senior and tabbed to the Louisville all-metro first team … Coached by Phillip Hawkins … Chose Kentucky over Louisville and Purdue.

Quandre Mosely, Defensive Back, 6-2, 180, Jr-JC, Brunswick, Ga. (Glynn Academy/Eastern Arizona CC) - Signed with Eastern Arizona Community College out of high school in 2016 … As a sophomore in 2018, totaled 50 tackles, a league-high six interceptions, one for a touchdown, and a fumble recovery as a safety for the Monsters ... Earned 2018 All-WSFL All-League honors … Helped Eastern Arizona win the Salt City Bowl game … Former wide receiver in high school … Helped Glynn Academy go 11-2 as a senior in 2016, including undefeated in region play … Named GHSA Region 2-6A All-State Honorable Mention as a wide receiver … Played for head coach Rocky Hidalgo … Chose Kentucky over Utah and Oregon … First name pronounced “QUAN-dray.”

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