With the unprecedented success that Mark Stoops and his staff are seeing on the recruiting trail, it can be easy to forget about certain players due to the sheer volume of highly-ranked guys that are choosing to come to UK.
One name that UK fans should make a point to remember is four-star defensive end JJ Weaver, who committed to the Cats back in November. Weaver is a local product from Louisville Moore Traditional School where he spent a total of seven years, both middle school and high school.
In his final season, Weaver led the Mustangs to 11 wins, which was arguably the best football season in the history of the school. Moore had suffered through 14 straight losing seasons from 2002-2015 and had only totaled four all-time playoff wins.
But Weaver and his head coach, Rob Reader, began turning things around in 2016 and finished off 2018 by winning two playoff games and a near-state title game appearance.
Coach Reader would go on to win the Kentucky High School Football Coach of the Year.
Weaver was a key piece to the total transformation of the Moore football program and has a clear focus as he prepares to arrive on UK’s campus June 15th.
“I’m just ready to play football. I’ve been working out everyday, getting big, getting ready.” Weaver told A Sea of Blue.
Weaver also proudly said that he has gotten his weight up to 238 pounds. Combining that size with his 6-foot-6 frame, he will absolutely have all of the physical attributes to compete in the SEC.
In talking to Weaver, you get the sense that he is all in on being a Kentucky Wildcat and is totally engaged around the necessary preparation to get him on the field as soon as possible. However, there was a time after his initial verbal commitment that some believed he was a risk to flip and possibly become a Louisville Cardinal.
When asked about it, Weaver was lightning quick to dismiss any rumors of that nature.
“I don’t know what they was talking about. It was just social media, that’s what it was. I was 100% committed to UK. I was not going nowhere. I committed, and I’m a man of my word,” Weaver said confidently.
It is important to keep in mind that Weaver’s recruitment was an interesting one considering he was courted by Purdue’s Jeff Brohm for some time before ultimately pledging his allegiance to the Cats. Brohm was in the middle of determining his future the same exact week that Weaver was scheduled to make his announcement.
“My first official visit was Purdue. What’s crazy was that me and Wandale (Robinson), we both went to Purdue,” Weaver said. “So it was like our top, and I was really feeling Purdue. But Purdue is low key far from my mom.”
Family is something that you can tell is very important to Weaver, so it wasn’t a huge surprise to hear that staying close to home was a priority when making his college decision. Heck, even his mother took to Twitter to address the rumors that her son was considering backing out on his commitment to Kentucky.
JJ Weaver won’t be the only big time player making his way to Lexington next year and beyond. When asked about other players that he will be teammates with, including the recent commitment from 2020 five-star Justin Rogers, there was no hesitation of visible excitement.
“Oh he (Justin Rogers) is gonna stay. If we get him and keep recruiting, oh man,” Weaver said.
Weaver is also very close with another Louisville product, Jared Casey, who will be another 2019 edition. Weaver said that the two have been working out regularly and expect to compete for playing time as soon as possible. He is confident in his ability to drop back in pass coverage as well as rush the passer.
The transformation that Kentucky football has seen over the last several years has created an environment of competition on the practice field. There will be numerous highly ranked players lobbying for minutes at the same positions.
Similar to a basketball practice at the Joe Craft Center, Coach Stoops will now be able to use that depth during practice sessions to improve individuals skills and better the team as a whole.
Weaver obviously has a very bright future on the football field. But the Big Blue Nation will be excited to know that he is an exceptional basketball player as well. So much so that he was even offered a basketball scholarship by Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and Eastern Kentucky. He was a star basketball player for Moore High School as well.
Check out the video below to see him slam dunk all over a poor soul at a local park in Louisville.
Should Coach Cal be giving Weaver a look?
Just kidding, kind of.
Times are as good as ever with the University of Kentucky football program, and players like Weaver are aiming to pick up right where last year’s Citrus Bowl champions left off. It adds even more excitement with the strong nucleus of local players that are choosing to wear the blue and white.
September cannot get here soon enough.