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Kentucky Football Recruiting: Things are beginning to heat up again

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The 2016 Kentucky recruiting class is shaping up to be the best ever in the program's history.

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The past two week's recruiting news has all been positive for the Kentucky Wildcats.

Two news items fall into the BIG category. You’ll have to decide which is the bigger news. For me, it is the Marcelys Jones transfer to Kentucky from Ohio State (he coulda gone to Michigan or Michigan State or almost anywhere of his choice). Right up there, however, is the news that Kash Daniel will announce on July 4th and all indications are that he’ll choose the Cats.

What you may not have caught, however, is that JUCO OL Tate Leavitt, as of right now, only plans to take one official visit and that's to Lexington. Something else to consider: JUCO DL Walvenski Aime just de-committed from The U and is planning a visit to Kentucky in July.

Marcelys Jones

Some Buckeye fans are downplaying the loss of Jones. Expect more to come now that he's transferring to Kentucky. After all, he's transferring to lowly Kentucky. Justin Rowland tweeted  that Jones almost immediately regretted his decision to go to Columbus.

Some are saying he wasn't going to see much playing time for the Buckeyes, but he was listed as the #2 Center on the Cleveland Plain Dealer's projected depth chart.

Some say he left because of grades. That's unlikely since he enrolled early as a freshman. More likely, he wasn't comfortable with the size of Ohio State. It is a big school, much larger than Kentucky. If Kentucky is a big pond, Ohio State is a great lake.

Also, he may not have been happy with a position move from OG to C, as projected by The Plain Dealer. Jones was considered one of the more athletic players for the Buckeyes during the spring. Urban Meyer apparently tried to keep him on board. On the National Championship team, he saw action in only two games last year and did not wear a redshirt. That will be taken care of with the wait out during the 2015 season. He becomes eligible for the 2016 season as a redshirt sophomore. While losing Josh Krok hurt, Jones is a more than a nice replacement.

Kash Daniel

According to Josh Edwards over at The Cats Pause, if Kash Daniel commits, only five schools will have more 247Sports top 100 commitments: Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia and LSU.  The only reason I put the Jones transfer ahead of Daniel in the breaking news department is the old "bird in the hand" saying. Jones is a Cat while Daniel is still a hopeful.

There is very good reason for hope, however. Daniel took his visit to Columbia, SC, came home and canceled all other visits. As noted, he changed his announcement date from August to Independence Day. He was a guest on the KSR morning show which was hosted by Drake Jackson and Landon Young and he gave every indication that he wants to stay home without actually saying it.

He joins Jackson and Young as 2016 Army All-Americans. According to Josh Edwards over at The Cats Pause, if Kash Daniel commits, only five schools will have more 247Sports top 100 commitments: Florida State, Ohio State, Penn State, Georgia and LSU.

Everyone except Rivals says Daniel is a 4-star prospect. I'm not sure what the deal is with Rivals since Kash Daniel lit up the Rivals camp in Charlotte. Here's his current Rivals profile. So, who cares? He's a Kentucky kid who will be in the running for the Kentucky Mr. Football award.

Tate Leavitt

When Vince Marrow is involved in recruiting a JUCO, you can be 90% sure, or better, that the player is from Ohio. Leavitt is from Thornville, OH and played at Sheridan HS. Since his unofficial visit on May 18th, he picked up offers from Oklahoma and Auburn. He's sitting on 18 offers according to 247Sports, including offers from Alabama, Louisville, Arizona State, Kansas State, Missouri, N C State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia.

Rivals ranks Leavitt as a 5.9 four star offensive tackle.  Here's his current Rivals profile. It will be interesting to see how his recruitment plays out. Will the Jones transfer have any effect on Leavitt's recruitment?

Walvenski Aime

Aime played for Olympic Heights in Boca Raton, FL and was a member of the 2013 recruiting class. He wasn't rated by Rivals. Aime spent two years playing at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.  He committed to Miami a couple of weeks ago and de-committed the following week. He's planning on a UK visit on July 18th. Aime has offers from Miami, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Iowa State, Kansas, Minnesota, North Texas State, Northern Illinois, South Alabama and Kentucky. Jimmy Brumbaugh is the primary recruiter. He's listed as a 247sports composite 3* defensive tackle. Rivals lists him as a 5.5 three star. Apparently, he's down to Minnesota and Kentucky. Here's his current Rivals profile.

Other news

According to the Notre Dame Rivals site, the Commonwealth of Kentucky ranks 22nd in Notre Dame recruiting. Apparently, the Irish have paid no attention to Kentucky's slow move up the food chain, probably because it hasn't yet happened on the field.

Speaking of Notre Dame, Lafayette's Jedrick Wills (2017) dominated at Notre Dame's Irish Invasion. Several  other UK targets attended, including Henry Clay's Davonte Robinson (UK Commit), QB Sean Clifford (2017), WR Craig Yeast, Jr (2017), DB Carlos Becker (2016), DB Houston Griffith (2018),and a couple of others from the 2016 class that Kentucky has offered that have shown no interest in the Cats.

Finally, IMG Academy is holding the 7x7 National Championships in Bradenton, FL and SBNation's Bud Elliott is covering it through twitter feeds. Lots of offers and commitments going on.

Roster Management

If you've wondered about Kentucky's roster and when the players will graduate, I've prepared the following table for you. The idea came to me from the writers at SBN's Miami State of the U website. Here's my version:

Grads by Year

My list shows 84 scholarships. Here's a couple of caveats. I have made an assumption that J.D. Harmon is back on scholarship. I also assume that Cole Mosier has earned a scholarship since he earned a letter in the 2014 season. If not in both instances, then the number drops to 82. If the list is correct at 84, long time walk-on FB Jeff Witthun may have also earned a scholarship which would put the number at the NCAA maximum of 85.

If you're interested in the depth chart, nothing official from UK came out of spring practice. However, John Hale at The Cats Pause put this one out.