Yahtzee struck on Friday afternoon when all-state defensive-end JJ Weaver announced his commitment to the University of Kentucky during a ceremony at Louisville Moore High School.
It was also his birthday, making the occasion even more special. Weaver was also considering Louisville, Purdue, and Miami, but the decision really came down to the Cats vs Cards. This is a huge commitment for Kentucky and marks yet another local recruiting win for Mark Stoops.
Weaver is 6-6, 230-pound physical specimen, who is rated as a 4-star prospect by 247 Sports and the nation’s 332nd-best player. Originally from South Florida, he moved to Kentucky around fifth grade. During his senior year, he led Moore to one of their best seasons in school history while just narrowly missing a berth in the state championship game.
Weaver received all-state honors as a defensive-end and tight-end while emerging as one of the top players in the Commonwealth. He will join Shawnkel Knight-Goff, who is also a defensive end from Louisville that is committed to the Wildcats, along with electric playmaker Wandale Robinson. It comes as no surprise that Vince Marrow was the primary recruiter for all three players.
With Jared Casey recently reopening his recruitment, this 2019 class could become a monster haul for Stoops and the UK coaching staff.
The state of Kentucky has not typically produced the type of football talent that it has seen over the last five years or so. UK continues to take full advantage the woes of The University of Louisville and land the top prospects around the state. It will be fascinating for fans to watch the core of the Kentucky football roster gravitate to having so many familiar names.
Who is JJ Weaver?
JJ Weaver spoke to A Sea of Blue in the days leading up to his decision and detailed what type of player he is and what all went in to his decision.
“Once you get to college, you gotta start all over. Once I commit on Friday then it’s back to the grind. The grind don’t stop.” Weaver told me.
The most impressive thing after meeting with JJ was his intense desire to just simply compete.
At various times during the conversation he would reminisce back to a previous season of his football career and reel off his team’s exact record, and if they didn’t win a championship, he knew exactly what prevented it from happening.
“I played youth league for the East-End Warriors, we went 13-0!” Weaver said proudly.
He was also clearly distraught at losing to Taylor County on a hail mary in the state semifinals last week, that ultimately ended his high school football career. Born and raised in South Florida, Weaver moved to Kentucky during his 5th grade year, which made perfect sense, because back then, he was all about basketball, actually he played basketball up through his junior year of high school and even had offers from Cincinnati, Eastern Kentucky, and others.
By his senior year he came to terms with the fact that his Florida blood had blessed him and that football was his best option moving forward. You can take one look at Weaver and immediately know he is a big-time athlete with professional potential.
Currently. he weighs 230 pounds, but multiple times, he detailed his plans to add 20-25 pounds of muscle so that he can compete with anyone for a starting position next year. There is a humble confidence that he carries himself with, and you get the sense that he knows he has a once in a lifetime opportunity in front of him, so messing it up is not an option. Weaver has NFL aspirations and is eager to take the next step in his career. He isn’t someone who makes excuses or doubts himself for one second.
Family is extremely important to Weaver, and staying close to his mother is the primary reason his schools were narrowed down to Louisville and Kentucky. He also told me about how his older brother was even better at football than he was, but in the end, it didn’t work out for him, and that is a source of his motivation.
I was introduced to his younger brother who entered the room to JJ proclaiming “He’s next! He’s next!”
It’s evident that making his family proud will be a driving factor during his time in Lexington.
Speaking of family, Weaver’s cousin, Jordan Wright, is already on Kentucky’s roster and very well may be who he will be competing against for a starting position next year.
Maybe official visits don’t matter that much
I found it very interesting that when ranking which of his visits went the best it was Kentucky coming in third place after Miami and Louisville.
“Oh Miami, that was live!” Weaver said smiling. “I have family down there. That’s home. I hadn’t been down there in about a year. So that’s home. It was fun”
I was really curious if Weaver got a chance to wear “the turn-over” chain during his visit to Coral Gables. I’m not sure if I ever got a straight answer on that, but he admitted that Miami was his top visit.
He also mentioned that during his UofL visit he was put up at the new Omni Hotel in downtown Louisville and enjoyed it very much. By Weaver’s own admission, the city of Louisville has become more like home than where he grew up in Broward County, Florida.
I found his thought process in choosing a school to be very mature for a teenager. Weaver was reluctant to get emotionally attached to a coaching staff, because he understands the volatility in the space. He wanted to pick the school that was best for him and not the coach that was best for him.
Just 20 minutes after I spoke with Weaver the Jeff Brohm news broke and only validated that he was right. There are constant, unpredictable situations with coaching staffs in Division I programs, so it can be dangerous to put all of your trust in one person. Kentucky was chosen because of several factors, including the amazing job that Coach Stoops has done.
Once Weaver revealed to me that Jeff Brohm has not revealed to him what his future plans were, it became quite obvious that Kentucky was his choice.
“If Brohm was going somewhere, he would have hit me up, and he didn’t hit me up.”
The Josh Allen Effect
Even though he never mentioned it specifically, you have to assume that watching Josh Allen transform into one of the best defensive players in the country had to play a role in Weaver choosing to wear Blue and White.
“Me and Josh Allen talk all the time because my cousin goes to Kentucky. He was like, ‘hey do what’s best for you, everybody says you can be the next me, but be better than me!’ Josh is a real cool dude for real.” Weaver said.
With Allen recently being named a finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year it is making Kentucky out to be a very appealing landing spot for defensive prospects around the country. Allen is now a top 5 pick on Mel Kiper’s big board and has proven what is possible playing for UK.
Weaver is definitely the type of guy that wants to make his own path and name for himself, but there is no denying that the accomplishments of Josh Allen hold weight. With his size and pedigree it is not a stretch to say that Weaver could have a Josh Allen-like impact in his college career.
Will Allen’s prestige potentially bring in another big time in state recruit? Jared Casey decommitted from Oregon creating an opportunity for Mark Stoops to get back in the mix.
“My dawg, Jared! He plays linebacker and just decommitted from Oregon. I don’t know what he’s gonna do. That was my roommate at five-star challenge. Me, him, and Shawnkel,” Weaver told me this week. “I don’t know what JC’s gonna do. I haven’t talked to him yet, he didn’t tell me. I don’t know where he’s gonna go. He might end up going to Kentucky for real. We all talk, we all talk all the time.
It’s great news for Kentucky that Weaver is very close with the other local guys, including current commit Shawnkel Knight-Goff from Louisville Doss High School. Weaver mentioned he is really close with Knight-Goff. It would be something special should Casey choose to join Weaver and Knight-Goff at Kentucky.
The future is bright for Weaver and the Kentucky Wildcats. It is evident that he wants to be in Lexington and anything but winning is not of interest to him. This is a kid that the Big Blue Nation needs to get behind in a major way.