UK Recruiting

Big recruiting night gives UK chance to make up ground with in-state stars

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops took the field during team intros before a game against the Murray State Racers.
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops took the field during team intros before a game against the Murray State Racers. aslitz@herald-leader.com

A week after a monumental victory over Mississippi State at an electric Kroger Field, the Kentucky Wildcats will be riding a wave of momentum into another big home game Saturday night.

UK hosts South Carolina in front of a sold-out crowd, and plenty of the Cats’ top recruiting targets will be there to witness what Coach Mark Stoops hopes is another raucous environment.

Though the final guest list will number in the dozens, the Herald-Leader has confirmed that several of UK’s most immediate recruiting priorities are expected to be in Lexington.

It will be a much-needed opportunity for Stoops and his coaching staff — and the UK fans — to make a big impression.

Western Hills star Wandale Robinson, fresh off his official visit to Alabama last weekend, is among the expected visitors. The 5-foot-9 prospect from nearby Frankfort already has 92 carries for 992 yards and 13 touchdowns, 10 catches for 317 yards and six touchdowns, plus two return touchdowns and one passing touchdown in just five games.

His trip to Lexington for Saturday night’s game will be an unofficial visit. Robinson decided this week that he will use his fifth and final official visit for a trip to Ohio State next weekend after already taking official visits to Purdue, Michigan, Nebraska and Bama this year.

Robinson told the Herald-Leader last week that Nebraska was the favorite in his recruitment, though 247Sports national analyst Steve Wiltfong and several others logged Crystal Ball predictions in favor of the Buckeyes this week.

Ohio State hosted Robinson for an unofficial visit this month, He saw the Buckeyes defeat Rutgers, 52-3.

“It was really crazy. It was rainy, but the environment was still really, really, really good,” he told the Herald-Leader. “Those fans are really, really passionate about their football. And obviously that offense looks really, really good right now as well.

“And obviously they win a lot of championships as well. They’re always in contention for a national title. And so that’s what intrigues me with them.”

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UK is still very much in the mix for Robinson, who plans to make a college decision next month.

The Cats will also host Ballard linebacker Jared Casey for an official visit this weekend. Casey — a four-star player in the Rivals.com rankings — took an official visit to Oregon last week, and Wiltfong made a recent prediction in favor of the Ducks.

In-state wide receiver commitment Demontae Crumes and Moore defensive end JJ Weaver — another four-star recruit — are also expected Saturday night. Weaver visited UK last week and is also considering Cincinnati, Louisville, Miami and Purdue.

It’s possible that Louisville Christian wide receiver Milton Wright, the top-ranked uncommitted prospect in the state, could visit this weekend as well. Vince Marrow is the lead recruiter on all of those in-state prospects.

On Friday morning, Wiltfong logged Crystal Ball predictions in UK’s favor for both Wright and Weaver, as well as another pro-Cats prediction for former UK commitment Shawnkel Knight-Goff, a defensive lineman from Doss who is still considering Kentucky.

UK cornerback commitment Jalen Geiger — from Columbia, S.C. — is expected for his official visit Saturday night, and a Wildcats’ victory over Geiger’s hometown school would certainly make a statement.

Other confirmed visitors from out of state include Ohio native Kyle Jornigan and Louisiana native Dylan Rathcke, both offensive linemen in the 2019 class. WIltfong made a Crystal Ball pick in UK’s favor for Jornigan this week.

Western Hills football star Wandale Robinson talks about UK's recruitment of him and how the Wildcats see him fitting in if he were to choose the local program.

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