The University of Kentucky football program did not sign an in-state player as part of its 2018 class, thought to be the first time that's happened. It will not go back-to-back.
Eli Cox, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound offensive lineman out of West Jessamine High School in Nicholasville, committed to the Wildcats on Monday. He's the first in-state recruit to accept a scholarship offer from UK since Austin Dotson (Belfry) and Walker Wood (Lafayette) signed as part of the 2017 recruiting class. Dotson was the program's last in-state commit, pledging on March 5, 2016.
"It means a lot being an in-state guy," Cox wrote in a text message to the Herald-Leader. "(I'd have) a real sense of pride wearing my home across my chest."
UK offered Cox last Tuesday. Cincinnati, Marshall, Ohio and Toledo were among the other schools that had offered him.
Cox is rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports. He said UK sees him as an interior player that could play center or either of the offensive guard positions.
"UK is my home team and I love seeing the program building more excitement these past couple years. I loved my visit there," Cox said. "UK's facilities are top in the country. The coaches are great people invested in the program."
The Cats last month struck out with Bryan Hudson, a four-star offensive tackle from Scott County who committed to Virginia Tech, but have had success recruiting in-state lineman under Mark Stoops. Five in-state lineman will be on scholarship at UK next season: Dotson, Drake Jackson (Woodford County) Adrian Middleton (South Warren), Mason Wolfe (Henderson County) and Landon Young (Lafayette).
West Jessamine's record has improved each season that Cox has been in the program. The Colts last year went 6-5 under first-year coach John Gilliam, who previously coached at Morehead State and Boyd County. It was the program's first winning season since 2010.
"We are trying to build a culture of winning at West Jessamine," Cox said.