The Kentucky coaching staff made the wide receiver position a clear emphasis in the 2013 signing class by inking junior college standout Javess Blue to go along with stellar high school prospects Jeff Badet, Alex Montgomery and Ryan Timmons. Despite the talented haul reigned in on signing day this year, it appears that receiver will once again be a priority in the 2014 class as more than ten receivers have been targeted already. One of those players is Cincinnati LaSalle’s Derek Kief, and early indications are the the Kentucky staff has made him a top priority in the class.
The current roster, with the 2013 signees included, shakes out well for the Wildcats. Junior DeMarco Robinson will hope to rediscover the abilities that made him the clear-cut MVP of the spring game a year ago and he leads a group of talented players. Javess Blue was one of the country’s most sought after junior college players and he should make an immediate impact on the outside, where the Wildcats desperately needed bigger bodies. Blue should be ready to play right away and will have two seasons remaining in Lexington. Daryl Collins returns for his sophomore season after injuries forced him to redshirt his first year and inconsistent quarterback play limited his production last year. Collins and true sophomores Demarcus Sweat and A.J. Legree will be counted on for big production this season. Redshirt-sophomores Bookie Cobbins and Rashad Cunningham are both oozing with potential, but neither have made much of an impact at this point in their careers and both are considered to be very “raw” receivers. A slew of walk-ons like Austin Sheehan, Derrick Quarles, and A.J. Johnson could surprise some fans, but none of them should probably be counted on to be major contributors at this point. It is looking like the trio of incoming freshman made up of Badet, Montgomery, and Timmons will all three be counted on early in their careers. All in all, the Wildcats have only ten scholarship wide receivers in an offense that really needs 12-15 to be effective.
One thing that seems to have gone largely unnoticed by many, is that the Wildcats have gone from one of the tallest receiving corps in the SEC to one of the smallest. The last two graduating classes have taken Matt Roark (6’5), LaRod King (6’4), Aaron Boyd (6’4), Gene McCaskill (6’0), and E.J. Fields (6’1) off of the roster and many of the younger players that have been added have lacked the size that their predecessors possessed. As it stands now, Rashad Cunningham (6’4) is the team’s tallest receiver, but he has never actually caught a pass in a college game. After him, 2013 addition Alex Montgomery measures in at 6’2 and sophomores Sweat and Legree measure in at 6’1, but the remainder of the roster and the other three new additions in the 2013 class are all 6’0 or shorter. With no proven tight ends on the roster and an overall lack of size at receiver, adding a redzone target or two is a huge priority for the staff.
And now we come back to Derek Kief. The 2014 target has something that the Wildcats desperately need in a wide receiver: Size. He measures in at 6’5 and is a true athlete at that height. Kief is a consensus four-star player that has earned offers from Kentucky, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Indiana, Illinois, and Cincinnati among others and new offers seem to be rolling in daily. His relationship with incoming freshman Jaleel Hytchye and being made an early priority by the staff have helped the Wildcats immensely in his recruitment and Kentucky is expected to be a major player in his recruitment. There’s a lot to like about Kief for Kentucky fans. He hails from Cincinnati and is only about an hour’s drive up I-75 from Lexington. He has an NFL-type body. Maybe most importantly, he’s by all accounts a very good kid that stays out of trouble and does things the right way. Kief has walked into the perfect scenario for Kentucky. He can play in the SEC within easy driving distance of his family and friends, he would almost assuredly make an impact as a true freshman, he fills a position of dire need for Kentucky, and he has a close friend already on the team. Kief’s recruitment is sure to carry on and like most top players, he is likely to keep fans of his potential destinations on the edge of their collective seats. That considered, this one is worth the wait for Kentucky fans.
Find out more about Derek at his official website HERE
Follow Derek on twitter: @DKief10
Follow DerekKief.com on twitter: @DerekKiefDotCom
Check out Kief’s highlights below.
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*Pictures from www.DerekKief.com