The early signing period for college football begins on Wednesday. The Kentucky Wildcats have several big names who’ve committed to UK already, but it’s not official until they sign on the dotted line.
Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow, and several members of the Kentucky coaching staff have been entertaining recruits on campus, glad-handing kids and their parents, and doing everything they can to improve the Wildcats’ 2019 recruiting class.
This recruiting season has been a bit more special in that Stoops and company have made landing some in-state recruits a priority. Five of the 2019 commits are from the Commonwealth and Big Blue Nation can only hope they play with the same fire and determination of Paintsville’s own Kash Daniel.
Surprisingly enough, two of the top three recruits that UK has commitments from are from Kentucky. Let’s take a look at the 3 most important recruits for the Wildcats’ 2019 class.
Jared Casey, ILB
This one came with some drama, but in the end, Mark Stoops closed the deal and Jared Casey is coming to Lexington. The Louisville, Kentucky native had originally committed to the Oregon Ducks, but just recently reopened his recruitment and is now in the fold with the Wildcats.
Casey is projected as an inside linebacker, which is very good considering the turnover the Kentucky program will see at the linebacker position over the next two years. Josh Allen will likely be taken as a Top five in the NFL Draft next year, Jordan Jones is moving on, and Kash Daniel will be a senior next year.
Though an injury in 2017 slowed him down, it didn’t stop Casey from elevating to be one of the top linebackers in the country. He is very fluid and a sure tackler with pass coverage being a weakness that the coaching staff will no doubt have to develop.
Casey is a heavy hitter and the last minute recruiting by defensive coordinator Matt House and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow was nothing short of amazing. Casey is the cream of the crop in this year’s class for Mark Stoops.
JJ Weaver, Defensive end
Another Louisville-native tops the list with defensive lineman JJ Weaver as one of UK’s top recruits in the Class of 2019. Weaver played strong-side defensive end for Moore Traditional High School and may find a home occupying a similar role to Josh Allen.
Weaver was recruited by the Purdue Boilermakers, Louisville Cardinals, and Cincinnati Bearcats, but eventually settled on Kentucky as his place of choice to play college football. Marrow did another phenomenal job bringing an in-state talent to the UK football program.
JJ is 6’6” and 240-pounds and is sure to only get stronger. Weaver is rated as a 4-star prospect by 247 Sports and the nation’s 332nd-best player. During his senior season at Moore, Weaver helped lead the Mustangs to one of their best seasons in school history, almost finding themselves in the state championship game. He did so while playing defensive end, linebacker, tight end and even some wide receiver. That kind of versatility speaks to how special of an athlete Weaver is.
While it’s hard to forecast which players might become the next Josh Allen, Weaver certainly has the size and speed. Perhaps working alongside Coach House and Coach Stoops for a few years will help put him in position to succeed just like Josh did.
Moses Douglass, Safety
Okay, we had to go outside the state of Kentucky to finish off the list, but make no mistake, Moses Douglass is the real deal. The 6’2”, 185-pound safety from Springfield, Ohio is just what UK needs with departing seniors Darius West and Mike Edwards leaving the program after the Citrus Bowl.
Douglass is ranked 30th at his position in the Class of 2019 and 373rd overall. Douglass’ father, Maurice, played defensive back for the Cats (1984-85) and played 11 seasons in the NFL. In fact, Maurice actually coached his son during high school.
Douglass had offers from Alabama, Louisville, and Purdue, just to name a few. His tall frame fits the mold of what head coach Mark Stoops looks for in defensive backs. Chris Westry, Lonnie Johnson, and Derrick Baity are all 6’3” or taller.
All three players listed were 4-star recruits who received offers from other schools, some of which have a better football reputation than UK, but decided to sign with the Kentucky Wildcats. The 9-3 season UK enjoyed, coupled with the national notoriety that players like Josh Allen and Benny Snell have received, has helped make Kentucky a destination school for some of the best recruits in college football.