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Kentucky Football Recruiting and Building a Big Board

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How do you do a big board when your team has offered so many players (227 in Kentucky’s case)? One thing I learned from last year is you can’t. You let 247 Sports or Scout do it for you.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Another thing I learned from last year is that no commitment is safe until they either enroll in December for the spring semester or they sign in February on National Signing Day. Even with the signed commitments, you can't be sure until they enroll for the August semester.

Something else:  you can't rely on is the star ratings. They don't even get it right about how good a player is. For example, we know that Randle Cobb, Avery Williams, Bud Dupree and others weren't 4 or 5 star players, yet they all made their mark in the SEC and the NFL drafts. That is why I have said our 2015 class is underrated. The bottom line is you don't really know what you have until these players show up on the field of college play. Fans, however, are conditioned to make judgements by using the star ratings.

As battered UK football fans, we know that our recruiting has improved since the arrival of Mark Stoops. So far, it hasn't translated into wins in the always tough SEC. Player attitude has a lot to do with success on the field. The mental aspect of football plays a large part in building a winning program. Kentucky, under Stoops has yet to learn HOW to win.

While spring practice is over and summer is ahead of us, recruiting never stops. We always are in the dark about the number of scholarships that are available. The experts that we rely on believe the 2016 class will number 22-23. I'm not sure how that will happen when I look at our pre-spring roster. By my count, we will have 18-20 slots available on NSD in February 2016.

What we do know is that we currently have 15 commitments and, surprisingly, there may be more interest from players towards Kentucky than last year. Don't ask me how that's happened. I have to attribute that to our coaches and their ability to build relationships.  It certainly wasn't due to our performance. You can get the details on each committed player over at Next Cats.

I maintain a spreadsheet that lists all our offers and many of the players that Stoops & Company are looking at. I no longer consider that my Big Board. I've moved to tracking those players who are showing mutual interest. For instance, Austin Kendall was on that board until he committed to Tennessee. He came back on my board when he de-committed and listed Kentucky as his favorite. He's no longer on that board because he committed to Oklahoma.

Kentucky must have sensed that Kendall was a lost cause because they offered Logan Byrd out of Georgia. He never made on my board because he really never showed any interest in the Cats. He committed to North Carolina the other day.

Here we stand with the possibility of failing to get a quarterback for the second straight year. That could be due to our three quarterbacks who are settled in. Patrick Towles is a red shirt junior, Reece Phillips is a red shirt sophomore and Drew Barker is a red shirt freshman. Remember too that Zy'Aire Hughes played QB at McCracken County. Stoops has also taken at least three walk-on quarterbacks. I will be writing an article shortly about how our roster has changed since the Louisville game.

Keeping track of our offers where the offered are returning interest isn't all that easy. I have to do a lot of reading Twitter posts, looking for information. Here' what I've found.

Let's begin at quarterback.

Messiah deWeaver is still talking with Kentucky, according to several media sources. He's projected to commit to Michigan State. According to his 247 Sports profile, Michigan State and Kentucky seem to be his favorites. You know that Vince Marrow is working tirelessly to convince deWeaver that Kentucky is the place for him. deWeaver is the Spartan's top choice. Here's his ratings: 247 Sports 4*, Rivals (5.8) 4*, Scout 3*, and ESPN 4*. Messiah got a great review at the Best of the Midwest Combine and was named the top QB at the camps and a top 5 offensive player, along with fellow UK recruit Keion Wakefield and Wildcat commit Drake Jackson who was named the Alpha Dog of the combine. Here's what they said about deWeaver:

He's grown some since last year, he's much longer than we expected and really has good feet. In the intermediate throw session, the Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne four-star was the most consistent quarterback in the top group. Aiming for a potential April decision, Michigan State is the 247Sports Crystal Ball favorite and they're recruiting deWeaver the hardest.

Here's his Hudl highlights. He's ranked 219th in the ESPN 300 and they list him as the #14 pro-style QB in the nation. Scout lists him as the top QB in Ohio. He originally committed to Michigan, but apparently didn't care for the coaching change and made himself available on the recruiting market.

Gunnar Hoak picked up an offer from the Cats on Saturday at their Jr Day camp and Kentucky has to be in good stead considering his reaction to the offer. 247 Sports projects him 100% to commit to the Cats. It doesn't hurt that Kentucky has offered fellow Dublin Coffman team mates OL Alex Gellerstedt and LB Griffin Grady. Hoak is considered Ohio's #2 QB behind deWeaver by Scout.  If he commits, would the other two follow? Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN 3*. You should look at his Hudl highlights and know he isn't any slouch QB.

Tylin Oden is on my board because he's planning on a visit to Lexington before the season starts. A visit translates into interest, however passing. The Columbia (TN) QB plays for Spring Hill HS and has Louisville and Notre Dame as his luv interests. Trouble is the Irish haven't offered. Oden has seven offers: Kentucky, Louisville, Georgia Tech, Middle Tennessee, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky. Ratings: 247 Sports 4*, Rivals (5.8) 4*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated.  Hudl highlights

Just for what its worth, Kentucky has offered unranked Cole Kelly from Louisiana.

Running Back

Quinton Baker apparently is still in the mix after de-committing from the Cats if you go by his 247 Sports profile. They show the Ashland Paul Blazer RB with an 89% chance of signing with Kentucky. That could very well be old information. Josh Edwards at 247 Sports thinks he'll go to Marshall. I heard that Kentucky wasn't happy with his de-commitment and backed off on him and simply moved on by accepting commitments from Ben Snell and A.J. Rose from Ohio. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.6) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN 3*. He has two offers, three if UK hasn't withdrawn their offer: Marshall and EKU. Hudl highlights. He's planning on visiting Knoxville and Louisville.

Receivers

Randrecous Davis is a wide receiver from Nashville Pearl-Cohn HS. Should he commit, he will be UK third WR commit. Here's his ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.8) 4*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. He currently lists Kentucky as one of his top schools. His Hudl highlights are worth a look.

Keion Wakefield cannot be taken for granted just because his brother, Karon, is on UK's roster. His dream school is apparently Oregon. You can read about why Oregon may offer soon by clicking here. He's also getting interest from Alabama. I've kept the Louisville Male star WR on the board because Stoops wants Kentucky's top players at Kentucky, and Wakefield is considered the #3 player in the state by Rivals and #5 by Scout. If Oregon or Alabama don't the offer, he could still wind up at Kentucky. I believe Stoops is willing to give him time. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.6) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. Here's his Hudl highlights.

Zach Williams is a JUCO TE out of Copiah-Lincoln C.C. in Wesson, Mississippi. He has interest in South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Louisville. The Gamecocks and the Bulldogs haven't offered. Kentucky and Louisville are leading for his services. 247 Spots seems to think that Louisville has the edge. Here's his ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals not rated, Scout hasn't confirmed an offer, and ESPN not rated. No video highlights are available.

Sam Letton is another TE from Marietta, GA Walton HS. He may or may not have a committable offer, but he's projected by 247 Sports to commit to Kentucky. He has interest in Ohio State and could commit to the Buckeyes if he receives and offer.  If not Kentucky or Ohio State, he will probably wind up at WKU. Letton attended Nike's Atlanta camp and posted the following numbers: 4.87 forty; 4.46 shuttle, 34.5 kneeling power ball toss; 27.1" vertical jump and an overall rating of 79.26. Here's his ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. No video highlights are available.

Jonah Morris is a TE from Akron's (OH) Archbishop Hoban. He attended, as did Letton, Kentucky's Junior Day back in February.  Kentucky is his current favorite, but Chris Ash and Zach Smith from Ohio State are watching him closely. Here's his ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.6) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. No video highlights are available.

Brandon Chapman is another Ohio TE. He's from Gove City HS. Chapman holds five offers. Wake Forest is the other power 5 offer. Here's his ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.6) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. Here's his Hudl highlights.

Eddie McDoom sounds like a football name to me and UK is in his top 6, although most think he'll commit to Florida, Scout thinks Clemson is the favorite. The Winter Garden (FL) West Orange player  visited UK last June and he may take an unofficial visit to Lexington later this spring or summer. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.7) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. Hudl highlights. Also, check him out at the Nike Orlando WR vs DB 1 on 1 competition.

Offensive Linemen:

Stone Forsythe hails from Winter Garden (Orlando area), FL and plays for West Orange. He holds seven offers ,including offers from Duke and Boston College.  Kentucky currently tops his list, according to The Orlando Sentinel. If Florida offers, scratch the Cats. Here's his ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.6) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. Why Kentucky offered:  Size matters and he's a big boy. He's 6'6" /300. Hudl highlights.

Jack Wohlabaugh plays for Walsh Jesuit Catholic in Cleveland Heights, OH. Scout has him as Ohio's #1 OG. His current top three are Kentucky, Michigan, and Minnesota. Michigan seems to be the favorite. Ohio State is still looking at him. He was in Lexington for UK's 2/21/15 Junior Day. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals not rated, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. Hudl highlights.

Darius Harper holds seven offers from Kentucky, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland and Pittsburgh. He plays for Springfield (OH). He's listed as the #5 OT in Ohio by Scout. Right now, Kentucky is considered the favorite. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals not rated, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. Hudl highlights.

Defensive End

Tommy Carnifax is one of UK's newest offers. He's from Warren, OH and plays for Howland HS. He currently holds three offers from Kentucky, Toledo and Cincinnati. Northwestern is showing interest, but hasn't yet offered. You can read about the mutual interest between Northwestern and Carnifax here. Kentucky is his current favorite. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals not rated, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated. No videos are available.

Defensive Line

Keyshon Camp committed to Miami back in January at the Miami Jr. Day camp. Kentucky's Chad Scott offered Camp on January 5th. Camp plays for Lake Gibson HS in Lakeland, FL.  Alabama offered him on February 22 and he de-committed from Miami three days later. He holds 13 offers, but his top five are Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Miami, and Southern Cal who just made an offer. He's planning on a visit to Lexington over the summer. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.6) 3*, Scout 4*, and ESPN not rated. Scout lists him as the #1 DT in Florida. Take a look at his Hudl highlights. Also check him out at the Nike Orlando camp final five OL/DL 1 on 1 (1:06 mark).

Michael Boykin UK is trying to build a strong relationship with several schools in Georgia. Carrollton is one of those schools. Boykin currently has offers from Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Georgia Southern. He has UK in his top three. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals not rated, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated. Hudl highlights

Noah Jones came out of Ft. Lauderdale Dillard HS as a 247 Sports 3*DT and enrolled at Michigan State in June 2013. He was recruited by Kentucky back then. He left Michigan State and played last year at Pearl River C.C. in Mississippi. Since he's a JUCO, he hasn't been rated yet.  Hudl highlights Jimmy Brumbaugh is his primary recruiter.

Walvenski Aime is one of Jimmy Brumbaugh's DL recruits and plays for Fort Scott C.C. in Kansas. He has only three offers, including Kentucky's, but he's receiving interest from several big boy programs such as Florida State.  Kentucky is his first offer from an SEC school and he's let it be known that he's excited by the UK offer. You can read about it here. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals not rated, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated. Hudl highlights

Alexis Johnson plays with Aime and is another Brumbaugh recruit. He also only has three offers. In addition to the UK offer, Louisville and Utah State have offered. Tennessee, Florida State and Missouri are taking a strong interest but haven't offered yet. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals not rated, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated.  Hudl highlights

Linebacker

Erroll Thompson was at Kentucky's 2/28/15 Jr, Day camp. He has 10 offers. In addition to Kentucky, he holds offers from the following power five schools: Arkansas, Louisville, Michigan, Mississippi State, Missouri and Tennessee. Alabama assistant Billy Napier is showing interest but hasn't offered so far. Kentucky is one of his favorites and could be in the lead.  He may be a hybrid since Scout shows him as a DE. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.6) 3*,  Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. No highlight videos are available.

Jonathon Jones announced his top three on March 2nd, but Kentucky is behind Michigan and Duke.  Michigan is his current favorite. He also holds offers from the following power five teams: LSU, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Miami, NC State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Pitt, Purdue, Rutgers, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest and West Virginia.  The Orlando, FL Oak Ridge LB was in Lexington on March 2nd for an unofficial visit. He has been invited to The Opening (click on the link to see the roster) sponsored by Nike.  Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.6) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated.  Scout says he's thr #2 LB in Florida. No highlight videos are available.

Brock Miller is another Florida LB that Kentucky has offered. He's from Vero Beach and plays for John Carroll HS. He's apparently important because our defensive coordinator (DJ Eliot) is his primary recruiter and Kentucky is his current favorite. He holds another ten offers from far and near his home town: farthest - Boise State; nearest - Florida Atlantic. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated.  Scout says he's the #2 LB in Florida. A current video highlight is not available.

Emanuel Bridges de-committed from Tennessee on February 5th after committing last November. The Newnan, GA LB is a 247 Sports  4*, Scout 3*, Rivals (5.7) 3* and ESPN 3*. He holds 16 offers. It seems that Bridges and coach Ansley have connected since he says Kentucky is his current favorite. Hudl highlights

Ethan Tucky is a name that has Kentucky written all over it. His top three schools, according to 247 Sports are Ohio State, Notre Dame and Kentucky. Ohio State and Notre Dame haven't offered. He has been offered by nine schools, including Boston College and Indiana. Duke is taking a serious look, but hasn't offered yet. He plays for Rutherford B. Hayes HS in Delaware, OH and Vince Marrow is recruiting him hard. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.8) 4*, Scout 3*, and ESPN 4*.  Hudl highlights. You have to believe he will be a Buckeye if he's offered, although he has said that the two schools are even. Imagine Tom Leach making this call, "INTERCEPTION by Tucky at the Kentucky 33.....TOUCHDOWN KENTUCKY!!!! Tucky took it 67 yards to the house!"

Dee Walker visited on March 13 after UK offered on February 22nd. He plays for Colquitt County down in Moultrie, GA and his primary recruiter is Derrick Ansley. He's listed as a LB/DE. He holds 12 offers that includes Louisville, Indiana, Kansas and Iowa. Georgia hasn't offered. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals not rated, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated.  Hudl highlights.

Kenneth Ruff plays for Dillard HS in Ft. Lauderdale and Kentucky is probably ranked # 4 behind Clemson. His top two are South Carolina and Mississippi State. D. J Eliot will have a tough time against that competition.  Mississippi State hasn't offered but that doesn't mean they won't. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated. Hudl highlights.

Defensive Backs

I don't distinguish between CBs and Safeties because the position they play in high school may not be the same in college.

Brandon Shuman plays for Gulliver Prep in Miami, FL. Kentucky offered on February 12th.  He lists the Cats in his top three. He's received 11 offers. Wisconsin is currently leading. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN 3*.  No highlight videos are available.

Dontay Mayfield also plays for Gulliver Prep. He holds 13 offers and it looks like he and Shuman are a package deal, since both favor Wisconsin. He was also offered by UK on February 12th. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN 3*.  No highlight videos are available.

Carlos Becker has been offered by 19 schools and his top four are Florida State, Kentucky, NC State and Pitt.  He's projected to sign with Florida State by 247 Sports. He's a Florida kid so that makes sense. He plays for Osceola County in Kissimmee. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated.  No highlight videos are available.

Josh Dunn is another Florida player from Lake Wales and plays for the school of the same name. He can be considered a top target. He has been offered by six schools so far, including Florida and Michigan State. Kentucky is his favorite. Ratings: 247 Sports 4*, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN 4*.  Hudl highlights.

Javon Jackson plays for Sandy Creek HS in Tyrone, Ga. Kentucky offered him way back in February 2014. He camped at UK in the following June. Georgia and Georgia Tech haven't offered so far, but he currently doesn't seem to have interest in either. Kentucky is his current favorite. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated.  Hudl highlights.

Monquavion Brinson plays for Mays HS in Atlanta. He was in Lexington for a visit for the Mississippi State game last October. He also attended UK's Junior Day on February 28th. Brinson took time to camp at Nike's Atlanta camp and posted these numbers: 4.67 forty; 4.27 shuttle, 29.5 kneeling power ball toss; 36.2" vertical jump and an overall rating of 83.5.Derrick Ansley has kept him interested and Kentucky is his current favorite. It does look like UGA is interested, but hasn't offered. Mississippi State is staying in contact, but hasn't put forth an offer yet. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated.  Hudl highlights.

Brenton Nelson is a DMV player who plays for DeMatha Catholic in Hyattsville, MD. Chad Scott is Kentucky's primary recruiter. Kentucky is in the lead for his services. He attended Jr. Day on the 28th of February. Michigan State has his interest, but Sparty has offered. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals (5.3) 2*, Scout 3*, and ESPN 4*. Scout highlight video.

Sean Mahone is from Ohio, so you know who his primary recruiter is. He also has a red shirt sophomore brother, William, who is a walk-on at UK. The Cincinnati Lakota West star favors Kentucky, but we know having a brother on the UK team isn't a lock for a commitment (cough, cough Austin Kindle). Mahone has been busy. He's taken visits to Cincinnati, Ohio, Toledo, West Virginia and Purdue. He also attended Kentucky's Jr. Day on the 28th of February. Kentucky is his favorite. Ratings: 247 Sports not rated, Rivals (5.6) 3*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated.  His Hudl highlights show that he likes to hit and he has some speed.

Rontavius Groves is racking up offers. He's up to 15, but he's projected to commit to Tennessee by 247 Sports. His top four are Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Ole Miss (in no particular order).  Derrick Ansley is trying to convince him that UK is the place to be. He was in Lexington for the Mississippi State game. He plays at Nashville's Pearl-Cohn HS. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.8) 4*, Scout 3*, and ESPN not rated. Hudl highlights.

Athlete

Jordan Overton plays for Cleveland's Brush HS and Vince Marrow is after him for the Cats. He got his offer on February 2nd. He's tweeted that UK is at the top of his list which is pretty good that he holds 17 offers. You know that a kid is smart when he's got offers from Navy and Air Force. While Ohio State hasn't offered, assistant coach Stan Drayton is watching. If the Buckeyes offer, Kentucky loses. Ratings: 247 Sports 3*, Rivals (5.5) 3*, Scout not rated, and ESPN not rated. Hudl Highlights

There are more than  enough candidates to fill out our recruiting class. How many of these hold committable offers is anyone's guess, but it appears that the coaching staff will be taking their time between now and February. Quarterback seems to me to be the only position where they will accept an early commitment. I also believe they won't turn down any highly ranked player who wants to commit early.

There are many camps over the summer and there is a whole high school football season to evaluate players. There is no reason to use up all the available slots before football even starts in August.