As discussed earlier this week, Darius Fullwood and Jabari Greenwood officially committed to the University of Kentucky today. Vince Marrow receives justified attention for the incredible recruiting job he does in Ohio, but meanwhile, receiver coach Tommy Mainord continues to lay equally impressive claims to the Mid-Atlantic and it's talent. In the last class it was Blake Bone and Kobie Walker, and for 2014 he's now received commitments from Levon Livingston as well as Fullwood and Greenwood. These recruits have a higher upside than the prospects UK historically has signed from the region.
These two commitments also solidify UK's odds of having a Top 25 recruiting class for the second year in a row. While it's a long time until NSD, and things are subject to change, the program continues to need hype to sustain it until victories are earned on the field. If it takes summer recruiting to get the attention of BBN, recruits, and the support of big pocket donors then so be it. Hype is financing a new football facility and stadium renovation. Hype has UK involved with more quality prospects than ever before. Hype is helping to sell season tickets, merchandise, and forcing more BBN adult males to register for Twitter accounts than ever before.
Hype Inc. serves as the football program's venture capital firm that keeps operations afloat until the business becomes profitable. The hype can't last forever on its own, as on-field improvement is required, but it is currently sufficient and desperately needed to get through the early stages of rebuilding.
Highlight Tape Impressions
Fullwood is a 247 Composite three star defensive end who chose UK over Virginia Tech and Maryland. Fullwood attends Good Counsel HS, which is the same high school freshman Walker attended. This is one of Maryland's best high school football programs, and building programmatic ties could pay long-term dividends for UK. Fullwood is UK's first defensive line commitment, and I expect there to be at least three more in this class. Watch Fullwood work:
His highlight tape displays several positives but what stands out is his motor. You can see him chasing the ball carrier down the field, and successfully fighting through double teams. He does a good job shedding blocks, displays lateral quickness, and has fairly good initial explosion off the snap. He bends the corner fairly well when rushing the quarterback too.
Fullwood will need to get bigger if he is to contribute early. I sat next to Fullwood at the Blue/White Game in April, and to my eye he seemed closer to 6'2'' and a muscular 215 pounds instead of the listed 6'4'' 240 pounds. I'm anxious to see how he develops in his senior campaign. He'll have to learn more technique at the next level - especially outside linebacker technique - but his athleticism and effort provides a solid foundation to build upon. Importantly, he seems like a classy kid which cannot be overstated in a team atmosphere.
Fullwood currently projects to play the same position as Denzel Ware and Jason Hatcher in UK's defense, in my opinion. When UK shows a 3-4 look he'll play outside linebacker with the responsibility to blitz, read the backfield, or drop back in coverage. In a 4-3 alignment he could play 5 or 6 technique after some time in Korem's S&C program. Defensive versatility is a big plus for reasons I'm going to explore in a future post.
Greenwood is a 247 Composite three star wide receiver who chose UK over Michigan State and Maryland. Greenwood attends Gonzaga HS which is another high school that regularly produces talent. Greenwood joins Alex Stump as UK's second wide receiver commitment. Those are two tall receivers (three if you want to count CJ Conrad who will be flexed out in the offense at times) who will compliment the shorter receivers signed in previous classes. Also each are very talented. I expect UK to sign approximately four receivers in this class in order to keep the corps' numbers up. Greenwood's junior year Hudl highlights:
Greenwood is listed at 6'4'' 190 pounds, and his highlight tape demonstrates several positive qualities. First, he has great hands, and he catches balls with his hands rather than with his body. Greenwood capitalizes on his length to catch the ball at its highest point (adjusting if necessary), appears to have solid vision on screen plays, and displays a keen awareness of the sideline. Finally, he runs pretty solid routes with minimal steps for most high school receivers. When making cuts he appears to stay within his hips so he's not over-striding and wasting movements. I assume many of these qualities are indicative of the quality of coaching he receives at Gonzaga. I also like that he plays defense. I don't think physicality, and therefore blocking or catching over the middle, will be an issue at least mentally.
He also must add bulk to maximize his ceiling. He's not a speedster so getting stronger will be even more crucial whether its breaking tackles, shielding defenders when the ball is in the air, or blocking. I hope his senior year highlight tape shows him bust long runs, and gain ground on defenders while the ball is in the air. If he can become a vertical threat he will increase his potential.