It’s been less than a week since Mark Stoops became Head Coach at Kentucky and his friend DJ Eliot joined him as defensive coordinator. However, for a two-man team, they have hit recruiting fast and hard. Eliot was hired Thursday morning and wasted little time driving to Franklin County to speak with 4* WR Ryan Timmons, then making it to Trinity HS to speak with a few players. Friday he was on the sidelines of Immakolee (Fl.) watching the Alexander twins and 4* DT Deadrin Senat. Stoops has been busy trying to recruit assistant coaches for the most part, but has taken time to evaluate and contact several of Kentucky’s current verbal commits. It would seem that Joker Phillips’ staff did a decent job, as many of the current verbals will be honored. Below are the players who have confirmed with Stoops that they will be Wildcats.
- Alvonte Bell 4* DE- Bell is the highest-rated player in this class so far and held an offer from Florida State before committing to the Cats. A young man whom the scouting community is very high on, Bell was one of the “must-keep” guys in this class.
- Jacob Hyde 3*DT- Hyde is the only Kentuckian committed to the Cats so far. A space-eating tackle, he played for Team USA in the under-19 world championships. You have to feel good that Hyde will stick, he bleeds blue as a fan.
- Ander Bodkin 3*OL- Bodkin is another Florida prospect that the coaches may be familiar with because he camped at FSU. The more highly regarded OL prospect in this class, he would fit any offense.
- Jalen Battle 2* S- The reports of Stoops calling Battle were a bit surprising at first, he has been lightly recruited and many wondered if he would stick. After looking at it, it makes sense. A trademark in Stoops’ defenses has been big athletic safeties and Battle fits that mold.
- Khalid Thomas 3* ATH- This one was expected, Thomas is very underrated as a 3*. One look at his offer sheet tells the real story. If Urban Meyer & Steve Spurrier want a player, then Kentucky should want him too. Luckily UK has Khalid’s brother on campus, Pancho Thomas will be a sophomore linebacker next season.
- Darren Dowdell 3* TE- Dowdell is one of the most recent commitments for Kentucky and the only tight end in this class so far. According to him, Coach Stoops was very impressed with his tape. Dowdell could end up on either side of the ball, but look for him to play offense unless the coaches reel in another TE this year.
- Blake McClain 3* CB- McClain started looking around during the season due to Kentucky’s struggles and is considered a soft commit. After hearing from Stoops this week he said his commitment firmed up a bit. McClain is another Floridian whom the defensive coaches have likely scouted before.
These are just players who have confirmed that their scholarships will be honored by the new staff, several current commits have not publicly said anything. I would expect others to join them. Some prospects, like quarterback Reese Phillips, have been contacted but couldn’t be promised anything with an offensive coordinator not yet hired. Some others won’t be honored, that is just the way these things work. Some may not impress the coaches, others may be poor fits for the new scheme. With some likely attrition from the current roster, expect Kentucky to sign a full class of 25 with roughly 10 current commits signing their LOI’s.