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Florida Cats excited to be “coming home” for the Taxslayer Bowl

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It’s going to be a big homecoming at the Taxslayer Bowl as 14 Wildcats hail from the Sunshine State

NCAA Football: Austin Peay at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

As it has been well documented, the Kentucky Wildcats football team is headed to Florida to take part in the TaxSlayer Bowl on New Year's Eve.

The implications of this are huge as it is a prestigious bowl in the fertile recruiting ground of Florida. And it is also a homecoming for 14 current Wildcats on the roster that hail from the Sunshine State.

Without these Wildcats, there would be no TaxSlayer Bowl or probably no bowl at all. The Florida players are that important to Kentucky's success and they are excited to be home for the holidays.

Garrett Johnson is not the only key contributor coming home to Florida. Of the 14 Florida Cats, six are starters and another four are on the two-deep depth chart for the Louisville game.

On the offensive starters side, LG Nick Haynes is from Niceville, while WRs Jeff Badet is from Orlando and Johnson from Winter Garden. Other key offensive Cats were RG Ramsey Meyers (Orange Park) and JoJo Kemp (Deland). WR Alexander Montgomery (Weston) and Punter Bryan Kirshe (Sarasota) are more Floridians.

On the defensive side, Blake McClain (Winter Park) and CB's Derrick Baity (Tampa) and Chris Westry (Orange Park) have been starters. Also, Alvonte Bell (Miramar) and Kendall Randolph (Tallahassee) are on the two-deep chart. Marcus Walker (Lake Wales) and Nico Firios (Longwood) also are Florida Cats.

This Florida trip is especially sweet for the two graduating players in Kemp and McClain as they have been with Stoops from the beginning and suffered through that 2-10 season.

The Florida contingent will just get larger next year for the Wildcats as five new players have committed to the 2017 class, including the most recent commitment Chris Whitaker from Hollywood, who is teammates with current Cat commit WR Joshua Ali.

Other 2017 Florida commits are CB Michael Nesbitt (Fort Lauderdale), WR Clevan Thomas (Pembroke Pines), and CB Cedric Dort (Palm Beach Gardens). This list can only grow as current Miami WR commit Kevaughn Dingle (Miami Gardens) is planning a visit to Lexington. It should also be noted that the TaxSlayer Bowl will be held in the backyard of one Mac Jones and this could be very interesting, especially if Lane Kiffin takes the Houston job.

It also helps that the TaxSlayer Bowl is one of just two games on New Year's Eve that will serve as the appetizer games for the College Football Playoff games. Being on a Saturday will mean a lot of extra eyeballs on the games and you can bet that other recruits will be giving UK a look. Having recruiters like Lamar Thomas on the staff will only ensure that the Florida to Lexington pipeline stays firm in the future.