Fresh off a significant recruiting victory that landed 4-star defensive end Za'Darius Smith, two more recruits that were previously thought out of Kentucky's reach have either expressed fresh interest, or in one case, made a visit.
Defensive back Mackensie Alexander of Immokalee, Florida is still eyeing Kentucky deep into the recruiting process, and recently made some comments to Cats Illustrated [subscription] that indicate Kentucky is still strongly in the hunt for the star defensive back. Steve Jones of the Courier-Journal had an update on his blog about Alexander shortly after Stoops was hired at Kentucky:
It’s possible that Stoops’ hire could lead UK to get back in the picture with highly regarded twin Florida defensive backs Mackensie and Mackenro Alexander of Immokalee High School, who made unofficial visits to Lexington over the summer. Stoops was a primary recruiter for them with the Seminoles.
Since then, Alexander's interest in the Wildcats has strengthened, so Kentucky is still in the hunt. Still, with schools like the Florida St. Seminoles and Florida Gators on his list, which includes every big SEC football school you can name, there is plenty of high-level competition out there for this young man.
Another player that seems to still have Kentucky firmly in the mix for his services is Rivals 4-star receiver Shelton Gibson of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Gibson is the kind of player Kentucky really needs to start getting if they are to become competitive with SEC programs.
Gibson has had the Ohio St. Buckeyes at the top of his list for a while now, but the Buckeyes have offered a number of wide receivers, and the though is that the longer Gibson waits, the better chance Kentucky has to pick him up. Gibson visited Kentucky back on December 14th, and he's already been to West Virginia. He's slated to hit Nebraska and Ohio St. next month. If he doesn't go to OSU right after that visit, Kentucky football recruiting watchers may start to get excited about the possibility of another surprise.
Now that we're out of the 4-stars, let me mention another name that you could see popping up on your radar real soon -- Aregeros Turner, a running back out of Akron, Ohio. Turner is a very high 3-star who was previously verbally committed to the Cincinnati Bearcats, but since Butch Jones was hired away from Tennessee, Turner has reopened his recruitment and is now has a visit scheduled to UK next month. Of course, Turner is also now interested in Tennessee and may visit there as well.
While we're on the subject of high 3-star backs Daryl Chestnut from Miami, Florida is said to be likely to decommit from the Texas Tech Red Raiders soon and reopen his recruitment. Chestnut is interested in Kentucky, although Kentucky has not, to this point, extended an offer, but the thinking is that they will. If UK extends an offer and Chestnut does decommit from the Red Raiders, UK is likely to secure his services.
So Kentucky fans may have yet more to cheer about when it comes to football recruiting in the coming months.