By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has already signed every player it had committed in its 2017 recruiting class except for tight end Jordan Wright of Florida, who has his signing ceremony this afternoon. If he keeps his commitment, coach Mark Stoops will have his highest ranked recruiting class at UK.
Kentucky did not manage to flip Lafayette offensive lineman Jedrick Wills as he signed with Alabama this morning.
Here are bios on five of the signees with more to come during the day:
▪ Isaiah Epps, Wide Receiver, 6-2, 185, Fr-HS, Jenks, Okla. (Jenks) – A big, talented wide receiver who had a breakout senior season for Coach Allan Trimble at Jenks … Set a Jenks receiving record with 1,209 yards in 2016 with 59 catches and 12 touchdowns, along with 10 rushes for 76 yards and a score … Helped lead the Trojans to an 11-1 overall record with their only loss coming in the 6AI semifinal playoff game … Earned District 6A-1 Offensive Player of the Year … Named third-team All-State by The Oklahoman … Rivals lists him as a three-star wide receiver and ranks him as the 21st-best wide receiver in Oklahoma … Rivals.com Justin Rowland says, “Epps is a fascinating prospect because he was a basketball guy for most of his life and is really new to football. You would expect him to be a really raw player but he has taken to the sport very quickly and has proven himself a natural athlete and pass-catcher. He comes from a real powerhouse program at Jenks out in Oklahoma and his coaches were convinced that if he had played for longer and gotten more exposure then he would have had offers from almost everybody. There’s a little Keenan Burton in his game” … Also lettered in basketball and track & field at Jenks … Older brother, Carson, is currently a wide receiver at Iowa State … Chose Kentucky over offers from Illinois, Missouri State and Kansas State.
Coach Stoops says: “Isaiah comes from one of the top programs in the state of Oklahoma. He showed great hands in high school and has huge upside.”
▪ Alex King, Outside Linebacker, 6-3, 225, Fr-HS, Mason, Ohio (William Mason) – Known as one of the most explosive pass rushers off the edge in the Midwest … A three-star prospect by all four major recruiting services … Rivals.com ranks King as the No. 19 prospect from Ohio, while Scout.com ranks him as the No. 2 defensive end from Ohio … Second on the team in tackles with 40, including six sacks … Also had one forced fumble and one fumble recovery … Ranked third overall in sacks in the Greater Miami Conference which earned him a first-team All-Southwest Ohio and first-team All-GMC selection, his third-straight All-GMC first-team honor … Scout’s scouting report says, “(King) is a great athlete who runs well and chases down quarterbacks and ball carriers with his speed. Gets off the ball well, has the agility to change direction and in with finesse as a pass rusher. Can still get stronger and improve his general pass rush technique, but athletically, he has the goods” … Head coach was Brian Castner … Helped lead Mason to a 7-5 overall record and the second round of the Division 1 playoffs om 2016 … Nominee for the 2017 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … Also a talented basketball player … Picked Kentucky after considering Maryland, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Coach Stoops says: “Alex has the athleticism you look for in an outside linebacker. He can defend the run and rush the passer. He also has great passion for the game.”
▪ Naasir Watkins, Offensive Lineman, 6-5, 300, Fr-HS, Laurel, Md. (Our Lady of Good Counsel) – A three-star offensive line prospect by all four major recruiting services … Played tackle and tight end in high school as he possesses an uncommon level of athleticism for a high school lineman … Ranks as the No. 19 recruit in the state of Maryland and the No. 92 overall offensive tackle in his class according to 247 Sports … ESPN.com lists Watkins as 94th-best offensive tackle in the nation … ESPN.com’s scouting report says, “Watkins is a prospect with some raw ability and upside. Good height and bulk with a frame and build that can still be reworked some to carry and better maximize more mass. Displays good strength though room to improve and while good sized he still looks to have youthful type build” … Earned second-team All-Sentinel by The Sentinel Newspapers … Named second-team All-Conference defense by the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) … Coached by Bill Milloy … Chose Kentucky over offers from Bowling Green, Ohio, Dartmouth and Coastal Carolina … Name pronounced “Naasir (nah-SEAR)”
Coach Stoops says: “Naasir has good size and the ability to change directions quickly. He loves playing the game and has a bright future.”
▪ Michael Nesbitt, Defensive Back, 6-0, 185, Fr-HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Boyd Anderson) – A three-star recruit by all the major recruiting databases … ESPN ranks him the 43rd-best cornerback in the state of Florida … ESPN scouting report says, “(Nesbitt) is a skilled athlete with upside given his room for continued physical development. Scheme versatile as he plays both safety and corner and is versed in most schemes” … Rivals’ Justin Rowland says, “Nesbitt is one of the top corners in Florida. That always saying something but especially this year. He has a great combination of the right size, ball skills and athleticism and has demonstrated an ability to play press, man coverage. He has faced elite competition and matched up well with some of the state’s top receivers” … Coached by Quincy Woods … Helped lead Boyd Anderson to a 7-3 record in 2016 … In eight games played, he had 80 tackles, two forced fumbles, 18 pass breakups and two interceptions, one returned 71 yards for a touchdowns … Named second-team All-County … Also ran track at Boyd Anderson, competing in the 100m, 200m, long jump, and 4×100-meter relay … Picked Kentucky after offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Louisville, South Carolina and Central Florida.
Coach Stoops says: “Michael has big play-making ability. He has cover-corner skills with the versatility to also play safety.”
▪ Quinton Bohanna, Defensive Lineman, 6-4, 320, Fr-HS, Cordova, Tenn. (Cordova) – Three-star prospect by all the major recruiting services … Ranks as the No. 45 defensive tackle in the 2017 class … Rivals says “His explosive power is impressive, as are his first couple of steps. He gets off the ball with the kind of quickness you rarely see in an interior defensive lineman of his size, at his age, and he is very fast in pursuit” … A three-time member of the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class 6A All-State team … Named 2016 American Family Insurance All-USA Tennessee Football First-Team Defense … Picked for the Autozone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star game … Had an impressive 91 tackles (52 solo) his senior season with 24 tackles for loss and 19 sacks in helping lead Cordova to a 12-2 overall record and an appearance in the TSSAA 6A semifinals … Coached by Anthony Jones … Chose Kentucky after offers from Louisville and Memphis.
Coach Stoops says: “Quinton has the size to play the nose position but also the length and athleticism to play multiple spots. He’ll be a force in the middle with his massive wingspan.”