High School Sports

National signing day: Players across Central Kentucky make intentions known

Kentucky's Mark Stoops already looking ahead after another impressive signing day

UK football coach says 2016 was his best recruiting class yet, but this is no time to relax.
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UK football coach says 2016 was his best recruiting class yet, but this is no time to relax.

If a professional football career isn’t in the cards for Marshall signee Will Ulmer, the Madison Central senior wants to get into engineering or business. Mathematics has always been as natural to the 6-foot-5, 285-pound offensive lineman as blocking for his backfield on the gridiron.

And should neither of those fields pan out, the country music super fan — he tweets out some of his favorite lyrics on a daily basis — could do worse than becoming a security guard for one of Nashville’s finest.

Who’s in his ears the most?

“Hank Williams Jr. is up there for sure. He’s one of the best,” Ulmer said. “I love George Strait and Alan Jackson. I can get down with some Jason Aldean, some Florida-Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, any of it really.”

Ulmer, who along with teammates Korrion Crier (Pikeville), Cameron Davis (Pikeville), Kody Kidd (John Carroll) and Lawrence Lee (Pikeville) signed letters of intent Wednesday, got his music taste from his dad.

Dave Ulmer played high school football in their native Georgia, where he raised Ulmer to root for the Bulldogs. “But living in Kentucky it’s hard not to be a UK basketball fan,” Will Ulmer said.

Ulmer said Huntington, W.Va., feels similar to Richmond. That and its proximity to home were big factors in Marshall gaining his commitment. It helped that the school was the first to offer him, something that stuck with him. He credited Indians Coach Mark Scenters for working overtime to get Ulmer’s highlights out to coaches.

The nearby Appalachian Mountains are something Ulmer looks forward to exploring.

Cody Mitchell, a fullback out of Point Pleasant (W.Va.) who has committed to the Thundering Herd, already plans to include Ulmer in his outdoor adventures.

“He caught on that we were kind of on the same page as far as being country boys, so he’s already invited me to go out and hunt this deer season and everything,” Ulmer said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

He would love to play Georgia in Athens or in a bowl game. The teams aren’t scheduled to play in the next two seasons, but the Bulldogs have several open slots for non-conference games in 2018, 2019 and 2020. “My family would be all over it.”

“I think that’s something we’re gonna figure out when I get down there,” he said, “but honestly I’d like to redshirt because that’d give me a chance to further my education one more year.

“Honestly I see us on the rise. I feel like a lot of people overlook Conference USA, but I feel like definitely in three years we’ll be able to contend with most Power Five schools.”

Of course Devon Key, the Bryan Station safety who signed with Western Kentucky on Wednesday, figures to have a say in how Marshall’s seasons will play out the next few years. He’s eager to make an impact for a Hilltoppers program that’s on the rise.

“I’m looking to win about four conference rings and four bowl rings,” Key said.

He was among five Station seniors who signed letters of intent Wednesday. Andre Davis signed with Murray State and Mikel Horton with Wofford, giving Bryan Station three Division I signees in the same class for the first time since the mid-1980s when Cornell Burbage, Dermontti Dawson and Marc Logan all went on to play at UK.

Shane Preston and Mahari Sturgis signed to play at Pikeville and Campbellsville, respectively.

Sturgis said this group of Defenders was determined to help change the perception of Station as a “bad-boy” program.

“Everything’s a bad image around here, and us five have an opportunity to change that image,” Sturgis said. “ ... We’re actually good students who are wiling to put in the work to be able to go to college.”

Frank Parks, for whom this group of Defenders was the first he got to coach since they were freshmen, has preached since he took over that it doesn’t matter what you do on the field if the grades aren’t there.

He’s thrilled with the level of commitment his guys have shown.

“You have guys who have the ability to go get full rides at Division I schools, and it shows you can do it from anywhere if you want to,” Parks said. “It’s not about where you’re at, it’s about what you do where you’re at.”

In addition to Davonte Robinson (UK), Henry Clay saw star running back Joquise Buford sign with Pikeville on Wednesday.

Three players from Tates Creek signed: Jerrod Martin and Griffin Sypolt inked with Cumberlands, while Sakima Opsal signed his letter with Lindsey Wilson.

Trey Binder (Campbellsville), Tyler Dummer (Georgetown College), Dylan Smith (Georgetown) and Ethan VanderMarlier (Bluffton) all signed letters of intent from Scott County.

Woodford County seniors Seth Joest (WKU), Matt Stratton (Pikeville), Tre Winkfield (Campbellsville) and Saige Young (Dodge City Community College) signed Wednesday.

Anthony Robinson of Frankfort signed with Western Kentucky.

Over at Lafayette, Mason Alstatt (Wofford), Javarus Blair (Oklahoma State), Vence Hill (Cincinnati Christian) and Landon Young (UK) signed with their respective schools.

Lexington Catholic offensive lineman Chris Jackson selected Tennessee-Martin over Purdue, Illinois and Eastern Illinois on Wednesday.

The secret to Jackson’s strength? Working with livestock and hay on farms, something he’s done since he was a kid.

“I can stack hay better than anybody in Central Kentucky,” Jackson told the Herald-Leader in the preseason. “ ... When I go hit someone — we export dairy cattle at work —and I think about wrestling dairy cattle and getting them to different places, I think about the defensive end being the cattle.”

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

Where is the Class of the Commonwealth going?

Player

Position

High School

College

Mason Alstatt

RB/S

Lafayette

Wofford

Quinton Baker

RB

Ashland Blazer

Western Kentucky

Rodjay Burns

CB

Trinity

Ohio State

Devante Colton

LB

South Warren

Undecided

Kash Daniel

LB

Paintsville

Kentucky

Tre Fant

DB

Bowling Green

Undecided

Dalton Frasure

TE

Prestonsburg

Morehead State

Mason Gooch

LB

Montgomery County

Undecided

Riley Hall

QB

Pulaski County

Georgetown

Johnny Hernandez

DL

Mayfield

Undecided

Logan Holbrook

RB

Spencer County

Morehead State

Zy’Aire Hughes

WR

McCracken County

Kentucky

Drake Jackson

C

Woodford County

Kentucky

Jaylen Jones

RB

Lexington Catholic

Undecided

Devon Key

CB

Bryan Station

Western Kentucky

Jack Kuerzi

LB

Male

Indianapolis

Maleek Lawrence

DL

Newport Central Catholic

Union College

Steven Nelson

RB

North Laurel

Union College

Daric Pugh

RB

Pikeville

Eastern Kentucky

Davonte Robinson

DB

Henry Clay

Kentucky

Brett Slusher

LB

Beechwood

Undecided

Xondre Willis

RB

Belfry

Pikeville

Bryce Workman

QB

Johnson Central

Undecided

Landon Young

OL

Lafayette

Kentucky

Ray Zuberer

QB

Owensboro Catholic

W. Kentucky (baseball)

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