A day after losing a commitment from one local four-star football recruit, UK’s football program added a pledge from another in-state standout.
Ballard linebacker Jared Casey — a four-star prospect in the class of 2019 — announced his commitment to the Wildcats on Thursday afternoon, a little more than 24 hours after UK lost Western Hills star Wandale Robinson, who flipped his commitment to Nebraska.
Casey has long been one of the Cats’ top targets in the 2019 class, visiting Lexington multiple times throughout the year. He committed to Oregon in October — about two weeks after his official visit to UK — but backed out of that pledge last month. The Cats quickly emerged as the favorite in his recruitment.
Rivals.com ranks Casey as the No. 15 outside linebacker nationally in the 2019 class, and he joins safety Moses Douglass, wide receiver JaVonte Richardson and jack linebacker JJ Weaver as the fourth four-star player in Kentucky’s class, which now features 20 total commitments.
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“He’s a big hitter. He finishes well,” Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell told the Herald-Leader. “He’s not one of those guys who’s just going to dive at you — he’ll wrap you up. He’s a sound, technical kid. He’ll square up. He’s also pretty good in space — an athletic kid — but I think he sets the tone physically on the defensive side of the ball. He’s a kid who’s not only good at moving backwards and covering tight ends and working in the pass game, but coming up and delivering the big hit to get the defense psyched up. He’s going to be a physical leader.”
Casey recorded 70 tackles — with 15 ½ tackles for loss — and three sacks in 11 games during his senior season at Ballard this fall. He also picked up reported scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Louisville and Purdue, among others, over the course of his recruitment.
Despite losing Robinson’s commitment a day earlier, Casey’s pledge is another sign of UK’s increasing success with in-state recruiting targets after not signing a single Kentucky high school player in the 2018 cycle.
Casey is the fifth in-state commitment for UK’s 2019 class, joining Weaver, wide receiver Demontae Crumes, defensive end Shawnkel Knight-Goff and offensive lineman Eli Cox.
Four of those players — Casey, Crumes, Knight-Goff and Weaver — are from Louisville, a city that UK recruiting ace Vince Marrow has hit hard in recent months. Marrow told the Herald-Leader at the beginning of this season that he wanted to sign every top prospect in Louisville moving forward. “Our goal is to get ‘em all,” he said at the time.
Marrow was in Louisville again Tuesday night making the recruiting rounds. With UK coming off a 9-3 regular season and heading into its first Jan. 1 bowl game in 20 years — and Louisville enduring a 2-10 season and a coaching change — the Cats have taken advantage on the local recruiting trail.
“I think it just speaks to the success that they’ve had,” Farrell said. “They wouldn’t be able to do this had they not won nine games and put up a historic season. Winning is the one thing that’ll bring recruits. I’ve always said it. It doesn’t matter about facilities and all that other stuff. If you can win, then kids will want to come to your program.”