Mark Stoops and the UK football program have picked up five new commitments in the past week, bringing the total number of pledges for the 2019 recruiting cycle to 12 as the summer camp season keeps moving along.
The Wildcats’ class is not yet particularly well regarded nationally — tied for No. 35 in the Rivals.com rankings, No. 46 in the 247Sports rankings, and No. 11 in the Southeastern Conference, according to both websites — but Kentucky has filled some positions of need and will surely pick up another dozen or so commitments over the next few months.
Like last year, all of UK’s commitment will be able to sign with the Cats in December.
Here’s a rundown of what the UK’s class looks like so far:
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Originally committed to Tennessee coming out of high school in the 2017 class, Bembry ended up at Jones County Junior College, where he didn’t play last season and will be listed as a freshman this fall.
Bembry, projected as a linebacker at UK, suffered a season-ending knee injury early in his senior year of high school. He went the junior-college route due to academic issues, but he made the Dean’s List in each of his first two semesters at Jones County.
He is expected to have three years to play three seasons at Kentucky, and Rivals.com ranks the Atlanta native as a three-star player.
After failing to sign an in-state player in the 2018 cycle for the first time in program history, UK snapped up Cox — a standout offensive lineman at nearby West Jessamine High School — early in the 2019 process.
Cox is the No. 51 offensive guard nationally in the 247Sports rankings is ranked a two-star prospect by Rivals.com — lowest of UK’s nine high school commitments so far — but UK’s coaches are obviously much higher on his future prospects.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound lineman did have scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Marshall, Ohio and Toledo at the time of his commitment.
A 6-1, 165-pound recruit from Louisville, he was actually committed to U of L for a couple of months before backing out of that pledge earlier this spring. He also had recent scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Oregon, but the Cats landed his commitment after putting recruiting guru Vince Marrow on the case.
Rivals.com ranks Crumes as the No. 62 wide receiver nationally in the 2019 class and the No. 9 rising senior, regardless of position, in the state of Kentucky.
He had 30 catches for 770 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior at Butler this past season.
The son of former UK standout Maurice Douglass is also the only four-star recruit in UK’s 2019 class so far.
Moses Douglass — a 6-2, 190-pound defensive back from Springfield, Ohio — is considered to be the No. 19 safety nationally by Rivals.com; he’s listed at No. 20 at that position by 247Sports, and both have him as a four-star player.
Douglass is also the only Top 500 high school prospect nationally in UK’s class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He had reported offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Louisville, West Virginia and several other schools at the time of his UK commitment, and he was getting a long look from local power Ohio State.
It’s not reflected in the recruiting rankings, but Geiger was high on UK’s priority list at cornerback when he committed to the Wildcats last month.
The 6-1, 190-pound native of Columbia, S.C., is regarded as a three-star recruit and 247Sports lists him as the No. 154 cornerback nationally in the 2019 class.
Geiger had reported offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Rutgers and Virginia, among others, at the time of his commitment, and he announced his pledge to UK on the same day that nationally ranked defensive back Keontra Smith flipped his commitment from the Cats to Miami.
The earliest commitment in UK’s class, McDaniel is also the second-highest-ranked pledge for the Wildcats so far.
The 6-2, 225-pound linebacker from Tifton, Ga., has earned Rivals.com’s highest designation for a three-star recruit and is ranked on that website as the No. 19 outside linebacker in the class. He’s the No. 515 overall prospect nationally, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Attention from other schools has not waned since McDaniel’s commitment to UK in February — Ole Miss and Indiana have both extended scholarships recently — and the Cats might ultimately have to fight off some major programs to keep his commitment as the early signing period approaches in December.
One of two players to commit to UK on Friday night, Payne didn’t begin playing football until late in his high school career, and that belated start led him to go the junior-college route.
Payne — a 6-4, 260-pound defensive end from Hoover, Ala. — had 33 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 11 games last season at Northwest Mississippi Community College. He projects as a high-upside college player with positional versatility on the defensive line and is expected to have two years to play two seasons in Lexington.
Neither 247Sports nor Rivals.com has given Payne a star ranking.
Listed at 6-7 and 275 pounds, Pope had a nice offer sheet — Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh, among many others — when he committed to UK last month.
Pope — from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 122 offensive tackle in the class, and 247 and Rivals both peg him as a low three-star prospect.
Earlier this year, it looked fairly certain that Kentucky would be taking two scholarship quarterbacks in the 2019 class.
That could still happen, but, for now, Scalzo is the Cats’ QB commitment and he could very well end the cycle as the only UK signee at that position. (Kentucky currently has four scholarship players on the roster — Gunnar Hoak, Terry Wilson, Danny Clark and Walker Wood — and all four will be underclassmen this season).
Scalzo — a 5-11, 185-pound prospect from Fort Lauderdale — had been widely considered a dual-star quarterback, though he is now ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 20 pro-style QB in the class.
He completed 175 of 307 passes for 2,065 yards and 23 touchdowns with six interceptions as a junior and should also be a vocal recruiter on UK’s behalf.
UK's most recent commitment, Tisdale announced his pledge to the Wildcats on Monday evening.
The 5-9, 180-pound prospect from Valdosta, Ga., is the No. 37 running back nationally for the class of 2019, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. His recruitment started to pick up earlier this year with reported scholarship offers from Southern Cal, Penn State and Texas Christian, among others, and he’s yet another important addition from the state of Georgia.
Tisdale is UK's first commitment at the running back position.
Ward committed to UK on Friday night while on a visit to Lexington, and he’s ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 79 prospect from the talent-rich state of Georgia.
The 6-1, 175-pound cornerback had recent scholarship offers from Indiana, Western Kentucky and Marshall when he committed to UK last week. He does not yet have a positional ranking from Rivals.com or 247Sports, though Rivals does peg him as a mid-level three-star prospect.
Another recent UK commitment, Wilkins announced his pledge to the Cats last Monday and is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 73 outside linebacker in the 2019 class, though he should have some versatility within the linebacker corps.
The 6-2, 210-pound prospect has already taken official visits to UK and Louisville and has an impressive list of reported scholarship offers, although he did try to commit to South Carolina earlier this spring, a pledge that was not accepted and later resulted in the Gamecocks not being allowed to recruit Wilkins’ Atlanta-area high school.
That kerfuffle aside, Wilkins was definitely a take for UK, which sees him as another talented addition to its linebackers’ group for the future.
247Sports rankings for SEC football classes in 2019