UK Recruiting

Who’s in UK’s 2019 recruiting class? A closer look at the newest Wildcats.

Mark Stoops: ‘Next year will be the smallest class I’ve signed’

University of Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops spoke to press about the introduction of M.J. Devonshire from Pennsylvania, and how the next football seasons would be the smallest signing class he's had.
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University of Kentucky football head coach Mark Stoops spoke to press about the introduction of M.J. Devonshire from Pennsylvania, and how the next football seasons would be the smallest signing class he's had.

Here’s a look at UK’s 22 signees for the 2019 recruiting class:

Marquez Bembry

An Atlanta-area native who originally signed with Tennessee out of high school, Bembry has spent the past two years in junior college and had 36 tackles in 11 games as a defensive end this fall. He’s projected as an outside linebacker at UK, and 247Sports ranks him as the No. 41 junior college prospect in the country. Bembry will have three years to play three seasons for the Cats.

Cavon Butler

UK held off a late charge from Ohio State and Michigan State for Butler, a talented defensive tackle who earned an official scholarship offer from Alabama over the summer. He’s ranked as only a three-star recruit, but the attention he received from other big-name schools is a sign of his long-term potential.

Jared Casey

A major in-state addition for UK, which continued to target Casey after the Louisville native committed to Oregon last fall and ultimately landed his signature. One of only three UK signees with a four-star designation from both Rivals and 247 and an expected impact player at linebacker for the Wildcats.

Eli Cox

The West Jessamine standout ended UK’s skid with in-state recruits when he became one of the first players to join the Wildcats’ 2019 class early last year. Cox has the versatility to play all across the O-line at the college level. “It means a lot being an in-state guy,” he said on the day he committed.

Tae Tae Crumes

Yet another Kentucky native, Crumes caught 42 passes for 877 yards and 14 touchdowns in 12 games with Butler High this fall. The Louisville native — a former U of L commitment — is the No. 75 wide receiver nationally in the class of 2019, according to, which ranks him as a high three-star prospect.

MJ Devonshire ranks the Pennsylvania native as the No. 32 cornerback nationally and a four-star recruit. UK landed a late commitment on national signing day, fighting off Pittsburgh and West Virginia to add Devonshire to a talented group of incoming defensive backs for next season.

Taj Dodson

One of the final additions to UK’s class during the December signing window, Dodson fits the mold of bigger cornerbacks that Stoops has had success with in the past. “He’s definitely got some range on him, that’s for sure,” Stoops said. He’s got some good length and he can run … and he can run and change directions. So definitely very excited about him. We needed it. We needed some bigger corners.

Moses Douglass

The son of former UK defensive standout Moe Douglass is one of the highest-rated players in Kentucky’s class and should prove to be a difference-maker in the Wildcats’ defensive backfield early in his college career. Douglass is the No. 19 safety nationally and UK’s only signee in the Rivals 250 rankings (at No. 231 overall).

Brandin Echols

The Mississippi native had a UK scholarship offer out of high school but ended up going to junior college, and he’ll come to Lexington with three years to play two seasons for the Cats. A promising defensive back, he had 45 tackles, six interceptions and 12 pass breakups this fall. Rivals ranks him as the No. 7 juco cornerback in the country.

Jalen Geiger

His national ranking doesn’t reflect it, but Geiger was one of Kentucky’s top priorities at cornerback, and the Cats landed a relatively early commitment from the South Carolina native. He’s a physical defender, and he could end up being one of the gems of this UK recruiting class.

Isaiah Gibson

The Cats beat out Purdue and Wisconsin for Gibson — another Vince Marrow recruit out of Ohio — and he projects as a defensive tackle at the college level. ranks Gibson as the No. 54 overall player at that position. (He was also a terrific center at the high school level).

Amani Gilmore

One of UK’s two quarterback signees in the early period, Gilmore accounted for six touchdowns and led his team to a Louisiana state title this past fall. 247Sports ranks him as a top 50 pro-style quarterback in the 2019 class, and Tennessee was among the other schools to offer. He hopes to also play baseball at UK, something Stoops has encouraged him to do.

DeMarcus Harris

The only UK signee to have a two-star designation on — a bit of a head-scratcher considering the numbers Harris put up in his final season of high school: 73 receptions, 1,582 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns, to go along with several area records in Florida.

Shawn’Kel Knight-Goff

The rare recruit who commits to the same school twice. Knight-Goff re-joined UK’s class after opening up his recruitment last year and is another sign of the Cats’ redoubled efforts within the state. He had nine sacks for Doss this past season, and 247Sports ranks him as the nation’s No. 24 weakside defensive end.

K.D. McDaniel

The longest-tenured member of UK’s recruiting class — McDaniel committed to the Cats last February — and one of the program’s most promising new additions. According to the 247Sports composite rankings, the Georgia native is the Cats’ sixth-best signee and the No. 37 outside linebacker nationally.

Quandre Mosely

A major addition on the first day of the December signing period, Mosely had 50 tackles and a league-high six interceptions at Eastern Arizona Community College this past fall. He played safety in junior college, but he’s looking forward to competing for a starting cornerback spot at UK this season. He’ll have two seasons of eligibility with the Wildcats.

Nik Ognenovic

A teammate and favorite target of UK quarterback commitment Nik Scalzo, Ognenovic was one of the Cats’ earliest targets at tight end, and he’s a player Kentucky’s coaches were excited to add to an already talented group at the position. Rivals ranks him as the No. 29 tight end in the country.

Jake Pope

He’s one of UK’s lowest-ranked signees, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, but Pope’s list of scholarship offers show how much he was coveted by college coaches. Michigan State, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and North Carolina State were all among the schools that offered the 6-7 offensive lineman.

Nik Scalzo

The first quarterback to join UK’s 2018 recruiting class, Scalzo followed up an impressive summer with a terrific showing as a high school senior before suffering a torn ACL during the Florida state playoffs. He’ll still be rehabbing the knee when he gets to Lexington, but Rivals ranks him as a top 25 pro-style QB.

Travis Tisdale

UK’s only running back signee in this class, and the numbers say he’s a good one. Tisdale ran for 1,903 yards and 21 touchdowns in 14 games against stiff competition in Georgia this past fall, earning regional player of the year honors. He could be a major factor in UK’s future rushing attack. “This kid reminds me of Boom Williams so much,” Vince Marrow said in December.

JJ Weaver

Arguably the top signee in Kentucky’s class, Weaver is a Florida native who finished his high school career in Louisville and was one of the state’s top stars this past fall. A four-star recruit, he’s projected to play the jack linebacker position that Josh Allen and Bud Dupree perfected during their time as Wildcats.

Tra Wilkins

Wilkins — another Georgia standout — was once a heavily recruited player within the Southeastern Conference and provides even more depth for UK’s linebacker corps of the future, a group that will see some major additions from this class. He’s a hard-playing prospect with versatility at the position.