Many will call it the early signing day, but I think it is becoming very clear that December 20th is likely to become the normal signing day with February being secondary. Kentucky came into the day with 21 commits they hoped to sign. 20 of those 21 signed their letter of intent to UK and Mark Stoops.

The one guy, Xavier Peters, was not expected to sign today anyway. Hopefully, the ‘Cats can hold onto him and get him inked in February, along with 4 or so more players. I wanted to give the Big Blue Nation a comprehensive breakdown of the kids coming to Lexington, their Bios, and some predictions as to who we might see sooner rather than later on the field.

THE PLAYERS

Terry Wilson Jr.

Quarterback, 6-3, 205, So-JC, Oklahoma City, Okla. (Garden City CC/Oregon/Del City) – Rated the No. 5 overall junior college player by ESPN … Redshirted the 2016 season at Oregon … Transferred to Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas for the 2017 season …  Completed 57.6 percent of his passes for 2,133 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while rushing for 518 yards and five touchdowns on 126 carries at Garden City … Named the Jayhawk Offensive Player of the Year … Finished the regular season second in the Jayhawk Conference in passing yards, first in touchdown passes and first in efficiency … Ranked sixth in the nation in touchdown passes … Garden City head coach Jeff Sims said “He’s a dual-threat quarterback that’s very intelligent, dynamic, fast. He’s an accurate thrower” … Completed 154 of 281 passes for 2,406 yards and 25 touchdowns as a senior at Del City High School to go along with 709 rushing yards (8.5 avg.) and 11 scores … Threw for 2,856 yards and 24 TDs as a junior, accounting for 14.3 points a game … Played in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, where he led the West team by completing 10-19 passes for 111 yards and rushed for an additional 46 yards … Also played in the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State football game … Named the Oklahoman’s All-Midlands Region recipient and was chosen to PrepStar Super 30 listing of the state’s top recruits … Ranked as Oklahoma’s No. 2 prospect in the state (Tulsa World and The Oklahoman) coming out of high school … Two-time all-state honorable mention selection … Chose UK over Florida and Nebraska … Will have three years of eligibility remaining

Marquan McCall

Defensive Lineman, 6-3, 350, Fr-HS, Detroit, Mich. (Oak Park) – One of Kentucky’s highest-rated recruits in the 2018 class … Played for Greg Carter at Oak Park High School in Oak Park, Mich. … Helped Oak Park reach the Division 2 regional final … Can play both offensive and defensive line at the collegiate level as he also played defensive tackle and clogged up the middle of the defensive line … All-State player and rated the No. 1 offensive guard in the Midwest … A four-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN … Rivals rated him the No. 4 offensive guard in the nation … 247Sports also lists him as the No. 4 offensive guard in the nation, as well as the top player in Michigan and No. 135 overall player in the Class of 2018 … Regarded as a tremendous technician on the offensive line … Head coach Greg Carter said “For a guy his size, 325 pounds, he’s extremely quick and athletic and has great hands” … Chose Kentucky over Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Pitt, Wisconsin, Missouri and Minnesota

Stanley Garner

Defensive Back, 6-2, 180, Fr-HS, Parkway, Fla. (Dillard) – Four-star recruit by Rivals.com, which evaluates him as the No. 35 cornerback in the nation … Plans to enroll at Kentucky in January … All-Broward County selection … Was invited to play in the prestigious Broward County vs. Dade County All-Star Game, but will be unable to participate because of his enrollment at UK … Was a standout two-way player, as he also played wide receiver on offense … Coached by Rick Hemingway at Dillard High School … Helped lead Dillard to the district championship … Will rejoin former Dillard teammate Jordan Wright at Kentucky … Teammates with fellow signee Bryce Oliver … Entertained dozens of Division I offers, from every Power 5 conference, including Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Louisville, Miami (Fla.), Michigan and many others

DeAndre Square

Linebacker, 6-1, 205, Fr-HS, Detroit, Mich. (Cass Tech) – A hard-hitting linebacker at powerhouse Cass Tech … Rated a four-star player and No. 20 outside linebacker nationally … Played both sides for head coach Thomas Wilcher … Had 84 tackles and forced four fumbles to help Cass Tech advance to the Division 1 state semifinals as a senior … Selected to play in the Offensive-Defense All-American Bowl in New Orleans … Also helped his team capture the Division I state title with a perfect 14-0 record in 2016, the first undefeated season in program history … Coach Wilcher said, “He’s fast, quick and tough and would do whatever was asked of him without question and then do it at a high level” … Chose Kentucky after considering LSU, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin and Cincinnati

Darian Kinnard

Offensive Lineman, 6-7, 330, Fr-HS, Cleveland, Ohio (St. Ignatius) – Considered one of Kentucky’s top-rated recruits … Played at the powerhouse St. Ignatius program in Cleveland, which has won 11 state championships and three national championships under the direction of legendary coach Chuck Kyle … Massive player at 6-foot-7, 330 pounds … Selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American game … All-State honoree in Ohio … Rated the 101st best player in the country and No. 16 offensive tackle as a four-star recruit by 247Sports … Rated a four-star by ESPN and a three-star by Rivals … Rivals rated him the No. 21 recruit in prospect-laden Ohio … 247Sports rated him one of the Top 20 offensive tackles in the country … Was the first offensive lineman to join Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class … Chose Kentucky over Penn State, UCLA, Boston College, Indiana, Iowa State, Maryland, Minnesota and West Virginia.

Domonique Williams

Defensive Back, 5-10, 180, Jr-JC, Knoxville, Tenn. (Highland CC/Fulton) – A three-star prospect by 247Sports … Before taking the junior college route, originally signed with Eastern Kentucky out of high school in 2015 when current special teams/outside linebackers coach Dean Hood was the head coach … Played in 11 games in 2017 at Highland Community College (Kansas), recording 29 tackles, three interceptions and four PBUs … Earned All-Conference Honorable Mention by the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) … Totaled 52 tackles, three interceptions and 11 pass breakups in 2016 … Coached by Aaron Arnold at Highland and Rob Black at Fulton … Two-time all-state honoree at Fulton High School, helping the Falcons win three 4A state titles … Scored 27 touchdowns as a wide receiver and kick returner, including 12 through the air, seven rushing and eight on kickoff or punt returns … Will have two years of eligibility remaining … Chose Kentucky over Iowa State and Colorado State.

Marvin Alexander Jr.

Wide Receiver, 6-2, 175, Fr-HS, Miami Gardens, Fla. (Chaminade-Madonna) – One of the nation’s top-100 wide receivers by Rivals.com and a national top-125 wideout by 247sports … Helped lead Chaminade-Madonna Prep to the Florida Class AAA state championship, winning its last 10 games en route to an 11-2 record … As a senior, caught 37 passes for 585 yards and eight touchdowns … Coached by Dameon Jones … Chose Kentucky over Wisconsin, Syracuse, Central Florida and others … Teammates with fellow signees Davoan Hawkins and Akeem Hayes … Will rejoin former high school teammates Josh Ali and Chris Whittaker at UK.

Davoan Hawkins

Defensive Lineman, 6-4, 275, Fr-HS, Hollywood, Fla. (Chaminade-Madonna) – Another recruit from the pipeline of Chaminade-Madonna to Kentucky … Coached by Dameon Jones … Will rejoin former high school teammates Josh Ali and Chris Whittaker at UK … Played both offense and defense … Team won the 3A state championship … Played offensive guard … On defense registered 50 total tackles, 22 tackles for loss and seven sacks … Rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN … Projects as a defensive lineman at the collegiate level … Chose Kentucky over Miami, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Illinois, Iowa State, North Carolina and Wisconsin … Teammates with fellow signees Marvin Alexander Jr. and Akeem Hayes … Name is pronounced “Davoan (day-VEE-on) Hawkins.”

Chance Poore

Kicker, 6-3, 200, Fr-HS, Anderson, S.C. (Westside High School) – Rated as the No. 1 punter/kicker in the 2018 class by Prokicker.com … Handled punts, field goals and kickoffs for the Rams … Named South Carolina 5A Specialist of the Year … Prokicker.com’s Rick Sang said “A very talented athlete who dominates his position and has shown great work ethic. He is already capable of launching NFL caliber kickoffs and punts” … As a junior, converted 6 of 12 field goals with a long of 48, made 42 of 44 extra-point attempts and had 63 percent (48 of 76) of his kickoffs go for touchbacks … Averaged 37.1 yards per punt in 2016 with 11 inside the 20-yard line … Earned the top prospect award for 2017 at the Ray Guy Prokicker.com Kicking Camp … Selected to play in the prestigious Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas game, pitting the top seniors from North and South Carolina against one another … Member of two regional title teams coached by Scott Earley … Picked Kentucky early and never really considered other offers.

Bryce Oliver

Wide Receiver, 6-3, 200, Fr-HS, Sunrise, Fla. (Dillard) – Dual-sport athlete … Also a star basketball player … Three-star prospect by all major recruiting services … High school teammate of redshirt freshman Jordan Wright … Helped lead the Panthers to a district championship in 2016, catching 76 passes for 1,112 yards … Coached by Rick Hemingway … Will rejoin former teammate Jordan Wright at UK … Teammates with fellow signee Stanley Garner … Chose Kentucky over Louisville, Rutgers, North Carolina State, Illinois, Temple, UCF, Iowa State, Iowa and Pitt.

Chris Rodriguez

Running Back, 6-0, 220, Fr-HS, McDonough, Ga. (Ola) – A three-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Played on both sides of the ball as a running back and strong safety … Ran for 1,669 yards on 233 carries with 25 touchdowns as a senior … Averaged 7.2 yards per carry … Named Henry County Offensive Player of the Week in November after running for 236 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Union Grove … Rushed for 1,401 yards and 15 touchdowns with eight separate games of 100-plus yards rushing as a sophomore … Increased his numbers to 1,660 yards rushing and 26 touchdowns as a junior … Earned All-State, All-Region and All-County honors … Named the Ola 2015 Player of the Year by MaxPreps … Coached by Jared Zito … Chose UK over offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Middle Tennessee State, Troy, Arkansas State, Colorado State and Marshall.

Akeem Hayes

Wide Receiver, 5-10, 170, Fr-HS, Hollywood, Fla. (Chaminade-Madonna) – Caught 25 passes for 401 yards and six touchdowns as a senior at Chaminade-Madonna, which won Florida’s 3A state championship … It was the school’s first football state title since 2005 … Hauled in a 44-yard touchdown pass in the title game … Coached by Dameon Jones … Caught 35 passes for 750 yards and six touchdowns as a junior … Part of a pipeline from Chaminade-Madonna to Kentucky that includes 2017 signees Chris Whittaker and Josh Ali … Teammates with fellow signees Davoan Hawkins and Marvin Alexander Jr. … Rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN … Committed to Kentucky in June 2017 … Chose Kentucky over Louisville, Oregon and NC State.

Keaton Upshaw

Tight End, 6-6, 240, Fr-HS, Lima, Ohio (Lima Senior) – A three-star tight end in most of the major recruiting services … Rated as the 25th-best tight end in the 2018 class … Earned first-team All-Northwest Ohio District and second-team All-State honors by Three Rivers Athletic Conference after totaling 786 receiving yards on 46 catches with four touchdowns as a senior … Also was a third-team Division II Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association (OPSWA) All-Ohio selection … Caught 48 passes for 758 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, earning him a spot on the All-Northwest Ohio and TRAC first team … Also named second-team All-Ohio … Coached by Andre Griffin … Also an excellent basketball player … Picked Kentucky over offers from Louisville, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Ohio, Purdue, Bowling Green, Temple and Western Michigan.

Jamari Brown

Defensive Back, 6-2, 180, Fr-HS, Sunrise, Fla. (Blanche Ely) – Tall cornerback received offers from every Power 5 conference in the nation … One of the nation’s top-100 cornerbacks according to the 247 Sports composite ranking … Missed time with injuries during his senior season but still had an interception, eight pass breakups, a fumble recovery and returned a kickoff for a touchdown … Also saw playing time as a wide receiver … Coached by Calvin Davis … His numerous offers included, among others, Auburn, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Illinois, Oregon, Louisville, North Carolina State and Pittsburgh.

Brenden Bates

Tight End, 6-5, 240, Fr-HS, Cincinnati, Ohio (Archbishop Moeller) – One of the nation’s top-20 tight ends by Rivals … Noted for his receiving ability, a difficult skill to find among tight ends in the high school ranks … Caught 22 passes for 303 yards and five touchdowns as a senior at Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati … Accepted an invitation to the Team USA 2018 International Bowl … Coached by John Rodenberg … Received offers from the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference, including schools such as Vanderbilt, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, West Virginia, Louisville and Pittsburgh … Brother of current University of Cincinnati tight end Doug Bates.

Quintin Wilson

Center, 6-3, 320, Fr-HS, Cincinnati, Ohio (Turpin) – Considered one of the top offensive line prospects in Ohio … Rated as the nation’s No. 5 center by Rivals and No. 9 center by 247sports in the Class of 2018 … A three-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Played three seasons at Walnut Hills High School before transferring to Turpin his senior season … Earned first-team Division II OPSWA All-Ohio honors in 2017 … Coached by Kent McCullough at Turpin … Also excels in the classroom as a 4.0 GPA student … Chose Kentucky over offers from Virginia, Boston College, Cincinnati, Minnesota and Duke.

Ashtan Pierre

Linebacker, 6-2, 200, Fr-HS, Pompano Beach, Fla. (Deerfield Beach) – Three-star prospect by all major recruiting services … Played multiple positions in high school, including linebacker, defensive end, running back, kick return and punt returner … 247sports says “Pierre is a rangy, aggressive defender that does a nice job of making his presence felt by striking and driving through the ball carrier. He does the majority of his damage when shooting off the edge, but also shows good backside pursuit and effort until the whistle is blown. Physically, Pierre possesses a great build with his best football ahead of him. He projects best at outside linebacker with his ability to roam in space and lay a beat down on the ball carrier, but this is an instinctive, aggressive defender that’s always swarming around the pigskin.” … Coached by Jevon Glenn … Helped lead Deerfield to the Class 8A state semifinals in 2016 and the regional quarterfinals in 2017 … Chose Kentucky over Oklahoma, South Carolina, Iowa, Iowa State and Ole Miss.

Kenneth Horsey

Offensive Lineman, 6-3, 330, Fr-HS, Sanford, Fla. (Sanford Seminole) – Recruited primarily as an offensive guard … Has size to make an immediate impact … Rated a three-star recruit by 247Sports and Rivals … Ranked as the No. 58 offensive guard in the nation … Helped lead his team to a 9-3 record and district championship as a senior … Coached by Don Stark … Excels in the classroom as well as he touts a 3.6 GPA and scored 1220 on his SAT … Chose Kentucky over Mississippi State, Missouri, South Florida and Central Florida.

Jerquavion Mahone

Defensive Lineman, 6-3, 300, Fr-HS, Manchester, Ga. (Manchester) – Late pickup for the early signing period out of Manchester High School in Georgia … Coached by Evan Hochstetler … Three-year starter who played both offensive and defensive line … Also plays basketball and has advanced to the state finals … Late bloomer who just recently burst onto the recruiting scene … MaxPreps credited him with 64 tackles, 22.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks as a senior … Also credited with 31 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack as a junior … Chose Kentucky over Tennessee … Name is pronounced “Jerquavion (jer-QUAY-vee-on) Mahone.

Max Duffy

Punter, 6-1, 200, So-TR, Perth, Australia (Curtin/Kent Street) – Australian punter who is rated as the No. 1 punting prospect in the class of 2018 by Ray Guy’s ProKicker.com … Averages 48 yards per punt with an average hangtime of 4.42 seconds, according to ProKicker … Grew up playing basketball and soccer, he switched to Australian football at age 15 … Played for Fremantle in the Australian Football League … Has been working with Prokick Australia under the guidance of coaches Nathan Chapman and John Smith … Currently 24 years old, will be age 25 when the 2018 season begins … Will be the second year in a row that an Aussie punter will be on the Wildcat roster, following in the footsteps of current Cat Matt Panton … Will have three years of eligibility.

IMMEDIATE IMPACTS

So, who could we see on the field in meaningful minutes in 2018? We predict who could be the next Josh Paschal, or Lynn Bowden, or Quinton Bohanna.

Ideally, Kentucky could take all the incoming true freshman and redshirt them. Especially in the SEC, having a year of weight training and learning the culture of the program catapults a kid into a great career.

However, sometimes out of necessity or by talent, the new guys get on the field immediately. The reason I say that is to make it clear that even if we do not expect a guy to contribute immediately, it does not mean anything about them personally. It only means they need to get bigger/mature, or they are in a position where it is stacked with talent/upperclassmen.

  • Terry “Touchdown” Wilson – This one is the most obvious possibility. Wilson will be enrolling for spring practice and will compete for the starting job immediately. Even if he is not the starting QB, it seems tough to keep him off the field. At the very least I think Stoops would incorporate the ‘change up’ on 10-15 snaps a game.
  • Marquan McCall – McCall is a highly rated offensive lineman, the number 1 PLAYER in the entire state of Michigan in fact. However, McCall will initially be moving to the defensive side of the ball and could become an instant impact player at noseguard in the 3-4 or DT in a 4-3.
  • Domonique “Dom” Williams – Williams is a 2-year player who is stepping into a bevy of available playing time. The defensive backs (cornerbacks) were not good last year and Chris Westry seems to be on a continual path of regression. Willams can step in immediately and take snaps away from someone.
  • Chance Poore – Of all the incoming freshman, Poore is the lock to be a huge contributor in 2018. With the departure of the schools greatest kicker in History, Poore will be leaned on heavily to be the next Austin MacGinnis. Poore has the ability and leg to do it, his dad posts videos of him routinely hitting 50-60 yard field goals. To have the leg he does before fully maturing and being in the Kentucky weight program means a HUGE upside.
  • Max Duffy – Duffy is the #1 punter in the class, and the spot is open for competition with Grant McKinnis.
  • Marvin Alexander and/or Bryce Oliver – Kentucky loses Garrett Johnson and Charles Walker, and likely Kayaune Ross. While the ‘Cats will have Senior Dorian Baker, Junior Tavin Richardson, and a Sophomore Lynn Bowden leading the way, the next tier is wide open. Alexander is highly touted and Oliver is highly underrated according to the coaching staff.

INSTANT IMPACT TO BE DETERMINED

These are the players who we could see get on the field just because they may be too talented to keep off the field. Or they may have a great position opportunity.

  • Chris Rodriguez – Rodriguez was a two-way player in high school who averaged 7.2 yards per carry and scored 25 TDs as a Senior. Rodriguez is being compared to Benny Snell by the staff. While the depth chart will show Snell, King, Rose, and Koback currently, the need for a stud RB behind Benny Snell presents an opportunity for King/Rose/Koback/Rodriguez to battle it out.
  • DeAndre Square – Square needs to put on some weight, and he will be enrolling early so it is very possible he goes from 205 to 225-esque by the fall. If he can keep his speed and ability while adding muscle, he could see the field immediately. Especially if Josh Allen goes pro.
  • Stanley Garner – Garner, from a talent standpoint alone, might be one of UK’s top DB’s from day one. However, Garner could certainly use time in the weight room, and he is also enrolling early so it is very possible. I also know that with Baity, Westry, and Lonnie Johnson being seniors, UK would love to be able to redshirt Garner to step right in as a lockdown guy once they graduate.
  • Darrian Kinnard and/or Quintin Wilson – Kentucky is going to have its most talented line of the Stoops era in 2018 with Landon Young, Bunchy Stalling, Drake Jackson, Logan Stenberg, and George Asafo-Adjei. However, Stoops likes a rotation of lineman and one or both could find their way in there.
  • Davoan Hawkins – as a player on the D-line, the opportunity for Hawkins is immediate. However, stepping into the SEC and being a starter on that side of the ball in the trenches is a tall order.

CONCLUSION

The big positive of the day is that UK and Stoops got 20 of 21 commits to sign. Now, they can focus on keeping Xavier Peters and about 4 more targets to possibly flip. It feels like Kentucky filled a lot of needs today. It also frees the staff up to keep a hold of Xavier Peters and possibly hit 3-4 homeruns. This is a good class, with the potential to be one of Stoops’ best at UK depending on what they can make happen between now and February.

note: NCAA rules do not allow media relations personnel to speak with prospects or coaches until after signing day;this information is gleaned from internet, newspaper and other sources. Bios from UK Athletics.

Image courtesy of Jonathan Ray and UK Athletics