We should soon hear of a decision by five-star offensive lineman Jedrick Wills.
Wills, who hails from Lafayette High School just a short drive from UK, is considered one of the top overall offensive line in the Class of 2017. 247 Sports has him ranked 48th overall and the No. 1 player from Kentucky in addition to being the No. 9 offensive tackle recruit.
The 6-5, 318-pound lineman holds offers from the likes of Florida, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Alabama, Michigan State, Auburn and Georgia among many others. That speaks to how well UK has done just being in the final two or three schools realistically still in contention for Wills.
But while UK may have made a good run at Wills, so too has Alabama. The expectation is Wills will announce his commitment in the coming days, if not within the next week. We gathered our staff for a final roundtable and predictions on where Wills ends up.
Jedrick Wills is a beast. At 6'5", 318 pounds and extremely quick feet, he is the perfect o-line prospect. In saying all this, unfortunately, I don't think Jedrick is going to be a future Wildcat.
A few quotes from his CN2 interview spell it out for me. "I really had many schools that I wanted to play for when I was little, whoever was best that year" shows he's never been a big UK fan.
"Nothing wrong with being a hometown hero, and I'm not saying UK is out of the question, BUT mainly I just want what's best for me at the end of the day", his way of sugarcoating it. "I can always come back and visit my parents"... He's gone. Can't blame Jedrick, best of luck to the Lexington native.
Jedrick Wills is not coming to Kentucky, unfortunately. UK's need for offensive tackles is obvious even if Wills probably wouldn't contribute until the 2018 season at the earliest. He would make a fine cornerstone for the future, and is a likely NFL player. Those are the pedigree of in-state talent you hope to sign.
The telltale sign is the instate Wills didn't commit to UK early. In previous full recruiting cycles, Mark Stoops received the commitment from in-state blue chips (247 Composite four stars or better) early. Examples, I have a few. Drew Barker and Eli Brown committed nine months before NSD. Kash Daniel seven months; Drake Jackson 14 months; Davonte Robinson 16 months; and Landon Young was nearly three years.
The one exception being Matt Elam being two weeks before NSD, and that was when Mark Stoops could still sell hope. Maybe UK wins eight games this year, but it won't matter. Historical precedence says Wills goes elsewhere barring prestigious programs filling up their allotment of offensive linemen.
Adding Lexington native Jedrick Wills to an offensive line that already features Wills' former Lafayette teammate, Landon Young, would be equivalent to striking a gold mine for Kentucky football.
Unfortunately, this scenario seems highly unlikely. Notre Dame and Kentucky appeared to be leaders for Jedrick at different points during his recruitment. However, I will be surprised if Wills does not commit to Alabama within the next week.
Obviously, it's looking more and more like Alabama will be Wills' destination, and I do think that's where he will end up, but I'm not ready to give up just yet. When a guy has an opportunity to stay and play around his family and friends, there's always a chance he makes that choice.
Jedrick would be an extremely welcome piece to Eddie Gran's new offensive puzzle. He has the size and strength, not to mention the versatility, to make an immediate impact for the 'Cats.
A strong offensive line is the foundation of a productive offensive unit. With Landon Young as the future at one tackle, landing Jedrick Wills could give Kentucky one of the top offensive lines in the SEC in 2-3 years. However, all signs point to Young choosing the Crimson Tide. While Coach Stoops had remarkable in-state recruiting success this year, Wills' recruitment feels more like a Damien Harris situation. I think he goes to Alabama.
Stoops and his staff badly need to keep Wills with him having grown up in UK's backyard. But when Alabama, Notre Dame and other college football powerhouses are in heavy pursuit, you can't fault Stoops losing out.
Keeping Wills in the Bluegrass was always going to be a tall task, though Stoops has already landed many of Kentucky's top prospects during his tenure. I normally wouldn't bet against him in when it's an in-state prospect involved, but you can fault anyone who loses a recruit, even if it's from their backyard, to the likes of Nick Saban and Alabama.
In the same way John Calipari can go into Arkansas and land Malik Monk, go to Portland and steal Terrence Jones away, or dip into Florida and snag Brandon Knight, Saban can go just about anywhere and take who he wants.
Unfortunately, for UK, they're the program missing out on a game-changing recruit, whereas Alabama is just adding another cog to their machine. Expect Bama to win this one, though, as Will alluded to, it's possible the Tide add so many elite offensive linemen that Wills sours on them. They already have four commitments on the line and could add 1-2 more outside of Wills.
Jedrick Wills will be a Wildcat IF Kentucky can make a bowl game. For obvious reasons, it is very important for Stoops and co. to make a bowl game in 2016, but particularly on the recruiting front.
It would go a long way with a prospect like Wills if UK shows improvement on the field. They have shown him progress outside Commonwealth Stadium, but now he needs to see it between the white lines.
Three important things to consider:
1. A commitment to anywhere that's not UK does not mean the recruitment is over. National Signing Day isn't until February. Football recruiting is the opposite of basketball; plenty of time to flip him.
2. Wills is in UK's backyard. A commitment elsewhere doesn't change the easy access that the staff has to him.
3. There are two very important people involved: Landon Young and Walker Wood. If Young, his former Lafayette teammate, plays early it will show Wills that he can come in opposite side of Young and play, that's very important. Wood, a current commitment and teammate of Wills, will play a factor into this recruitment. If UK trends up on the field, then it can go a long way with Wood in his ear.
Jedrick Wills is the latest in a string of elite in-state prospects in the Bluegrass. UK has signed (Wills' former teammate) Landon Young, 2014 Connor High QB Drew Barker, Alabama miss and hopeful breakout star Matt Elam, and #26 in your programs and cousin of A Sea of Blue contributor Timothy Coleman...Davonte Robinson.
However, UK missed out on stud RB Damien Harris. It looks like Wills will be another miss. All the chatter I have heard is that he will soon be committing to Alabama. The best recruiting pitch our coaching staff has left is winning games.
Can a 7-8 win season help us land a future NFL tackle? I hope we find out.
It hurts to say this seeing that Wills is from Lexington, but I don't see him passing up a chance to play at Alabama. He'd be a part of a great offensive line that's sure to compete for a National Championship there.
Hopefully, he'll have a desire to stay close to home, because if he does he'd perform well as a versatile offensive lineman. At 6-5, 318 lbs, he may be able to play other spots besides tackle.