Oh, how quickly the winds of fate can change. Kentucky’s 2011 and 2012 signing classes were solid, if unspectacular, and filled positions that the team desperately needed to fill due to high attrition levels. Both classes were rated in the 60-70 range nationally, and neither garnered much attention from recruiting pundits. Almost from the moment he was announced as Kentucky’s new coach, Mark Stoops has created a sense of excitement that has been absent the past few seasons. That excitement has carried over into recruiting: Kentucky now has a recruiting class in the top-40 and moving closer and closer to the elusive top-25 status.
Currently, Kentucky has verbal commitments from 17 players. QB Reese Phillips has already enrolled and started classes, as have junior college players TE Steven Borden and DE Za’Darius Smith. That comes to 20 players that are accounted for in the 2013 class, and five spots are left for new signees.
Here is the breakdown of players as it stands now:
Reese Phillips (enrolled)
Javess Blue (JUCO)
Steven Borden (JUCO)
Za’Darius Smith (JUCO)
Nate Willis (JUCO)
* – ATH that could play multiple positions
Assuming everyone committed signs, there are five remaining scholarships. If this is the case, we should see at least three of the spots filled by offensive players and two by defensive players. I think it is highly likely that at least two of the current commitments do not sign with Kentucky in February, which will allow Stoops and his staff to brig in seven more players. If this happens, I would assume that four will be offensive and three will be defensive, but the versatility of Thomas, Peterson, and Dowdell gives some wiggle room here.
Here is the Kentucy “Dream Team” (in my opinion) for those seven remaining rides.
1. Ra’Shaad Samples – WR – TX
Samples is a big time play-maker and Kentucky had a serious need for an athlete with his skills at the receiver position. He can play inside or out and gives the staff serious flexibility to recruit other types of receivers.
2. Jojo Kemp – RB – FL
Kemp is regarded as a three-star player because he is an all-purpose back and doesn’t fit into a lot of offenses. Kentucky fans should consider him a five-star player because he is custom built for Neal Brown’s scheme.
3. Jason Hatcher – DE/LB – KY
With five defensive line commitments already, Hatcher may seem like a luxury at this point, but he’s not. Hatcher would probably need to add 20-30 pounds to play defensive end in the SEC, which he could undoubtedly do. But, the Wildcats are in desperate need of a strong-side linebacker as well. If Hatcher doesn’t work out there, he can always move back to DE.
4. Asiantii Woulard – QB – FL
Taking a quarterback with four currently on scholarship might seem like a luxury as well, but Kentucky has been the poster for mismanaging the quarterback position over the past two years and has started a ridiculous four different players in two seasons. With three sophomores and a freshman on campus, a transfer or position move is likely and Woulard might even redshirt to further heal from his ankle injury. Regardless, you never pass on an athlete as talented as Woulard when you can get them.
5. Alex Montgomery – WR – FL
There are a surplus of slot receivers on Kentucky’s board, but not nearly enough Gus built for the perimeter of the field. Montgomery is big enough at 6’1, but is still fast enough to stretch the defense. He’s vastly underrated as a receiver, but more importantly, he is regarded as a strong perimeter blocker.
6. Marcus McWilson – S – OH
McWilson is currently committed to Nebraska, but is from Mark Stoops’ neck of the woods in Youngstown. He’s a dynamic player that could challenge Kentucky’s safeties for playing time during his true freshman season.
7. Ryan Timmons – ATH – KY
Timmons is sort of a running back and sort of a receiver, but he’s 100% made for Neal Brown’s offense. Timmons is so skilled that the staff can bring him in and figure out his position later. He could be a running back, he could be a receiver, or he could even line up as a corner. It doesn’t really matter, because a player of Timmons’ caliber doesn’t come out of Kentucky often.
Now, will Kentucky sign my dream team? Probably not all of them. However, getting as many of the players listed above as possible will help the Wildcats climb out of the cellar of the SEC significantly faster.