UK Recruiting

Next Cats: As other schools come calling, major 2016 commitment remains 'all in' with Kentucky

Jordan Griffin,
a defensive back, is confident 2016 class will be special at UK.
Jordan Griffin, a defensive back, is confident 2016 class will be special at UK.

Amid the celebration of last season's storm-the-field defeat of South Carolina, the University of Kentucky football program picked up a major commitment for the future.

Jordan Griffin — a highly touted defensive back from Jonesboro, Ga. — was in the Commonwealth Stadium stands that night and announced his pledge to the Wildcats a few minutes after the final whistle.

Griffin was back in Lexington for Saturday night's game against Florida, and the atmosphere he encountered on the return trip reminded him of why he chose to be a Wildcat in the first place.

"It was amazing. Incredible," Griffin told the Herald-Leader. "Every time I go up there, I just feel like it's home. They surround me with so much love — me and my family. Seeing how they're building their program, seeing how they uplift one another, it's great to see.

"And the fan base — the people that support the Big Blue Nation — that means a lot to me."

Griffin had quite the traveling party for his latest trip to Lexington. The high school senior was joined by his parents, two brothers, an aunt, a cousin, two teammates and one of his coaches.

"They love Kentucky as well," he said of his parents. "They feel the same way that I feel about it."

When Griffin committed to the Cats, he was seen as another major recruiting coup for Mark Stoops and the UK coaching staff. ESPN ranked him as the No. 7 cornerback nationally in the class of 2016, and Clemson and Mississippi were among the other schools that had extended early scholarship offers.

ESPN and 247Sports still peg Griffin as a four-star player — making him one of UK's top commitments for next year — and his play has improved since his junior season. analyst Woody Wommack evaluated Griffin last week and noted that the UK commitment was "all over the field" on defense, providing excellent pass coverage while also helping out in run support.

Griffin, a 6-foot-1 prospect who is also a standout wide receiver and kick returner for his high school team, said he's playing a more aggressive brand of football this season.

"I feel like that comes with being in the weight room — getting bigger and stronger," he said, adding that he's now up to 170 pounds.

UK's coaches have made it clear that he remains one of their top guys.

Griffin said UK defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley — his primary recruiter — is in contact every day, telling him how important he is to the future of the program and the high hopes the coaches have for this recruiting class.

Other schools are still coming after Griffin, but he said he remains "all in" with Kentucky — echoing Stoops' latest theme for the program — and has plans to be back in Lexington for the UK-Tennessee game Oct. 31.

Hanging out with his fellow commitments over the weekend at Commonwealth — nearly all of them made the trip for the Florida game — only solidified his feelings.

"I've been knowing those guys for quite a while," Griffin said. "Every time that we're up there, we just come together so quickly and so easily. It seems like it's kind of a meant-to-be-type thing. It feels like a true brotherhood.

"That's the major thing that we all preach toward each other."

The coaches' message of sticking together carries over to the commitments in their group text message, which is the players' primary means of staying in contact when they're not all together in the same place.

Griffin isn't the only UK pledge still drawing interest from other big-time schools, but he said he sees this class staying intact all the way to national signing day in February.

"I honestly do," he said. "We talk about that all the time. We feel like this is a special class and we're going to do some special things there. That's what we're all looking forward to."