Most Recent Posts
- Ohio twins will transfer from Pittsburgh to Kentucky
- Photo Gallery: Alex Poythress at Camp Cal
- Ohio RB Mikel Horton did all he could to help convince Georgia RB Boom Williams to commit to UK
- Boom Willams expects to make impact returning punts, kickoffs
- UK commit Stanley Williams ready to bring the “Boom” to Kentucky football
- Calipari uses Twitter to explain Kentucky’s recruiting success
- Longtime sports writer Joey Fosko dies from apparent heart attack
- Kentucky offers athletic 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky’s football recruiting continues to find creative ways to restock the roster as the Wildcats now apparently will pick up two transfers from Pittsburgh — twins Demitrious and Chris Davis.
Justin Rowland of Rivals.com reported Tuesday that the twins, who had already announced they were leaving Pittsburgh after one redshirt season, had decided on Kentucky. They will have to sit out for the 2013 season and then have three years of eligibility remaining.
Again, UK coach Mark Stoops’ Ohio connections paid off here. The twins played at Austintown Fitch and were ranked among the top 40 prospects in Ohio in the 2012 recruiting class and No. 32 and 33 among athletes in the nation by Rivals.com. They were recruited by former coach Todd Graham, but signed as a part of Paul Chryst’s first recruiting class. They both started their Pitt careers as receivers before Demitrious moved to running back during the 2012 season and Chris moved to defensive back in spring practice.
Demitrious was a three-year quarterback in high school and his brother played receiver and defensive back. Both were recruited by Graham to play slot receiver.
Several media reports had the twins favoring Purdue because of their relationship with former Kent State coach Darrell Hazell, who took over at Purdue when former Eastern Kentucky coach Danny Hope was fired.
Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois and some Mid-America Conference schools were also on their list along with Kentucky. They were not allowed because of restrictions set by Pittsburgh to transfer to any ACC program or Arizona and Arizona State where former Pitt coaches are on each staff.
Both players wanted to again go to the same school and apparently Kentucky had enough available scholarships to accommodate them both for the upcoming season.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Lakota West (Ohio) running back Mikel Horton, one of the early commits in the 2014 recruiting class, did all he could to persuade Georgia all-purpose running back Stanely Williams to commit to UK even though they play the same position.
“It is all about recruiting guys that will make you better and putting guys around you that make the team better,” Williams said. “We will compete and both get better. That’s what Kentucky needs to be successful. He showed me he is willing to compete, and so am I. Really, you don’t get that from a lot of people. He reached out to me and told me to commit and make plays with him. We will be a heck of a combination. Coach Neal (Brown) told me he is already working on ways to put us both in the backfield.
“This is going to be a historic recruiting class with Horton, (Drew) Barker and more. They were telling me to enjoy myself and just make the right decision. But everything they said about Kentucky is true. I love it. Just tell the fans Boom is coming to Kentucky.”
Kentucky coaches have put “Yahtzee” on Twitter when a player commits since they cannot comment directly on recruits. Williams put the same message on his Twitter account when he committed and hopes to do it a lot more.
“It’s a great tradition, and we’re going to get a bunch more Yahtzees. Just wait and see,” Williams said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
In addition to running the ball and catching passes, Georgia all-purpose running back Stanley “Boom” Williams — who still runs the 40 in 4.31 seconds even though he now weighs 190 pounds — expects to be used on special teams based on what UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown has told him.
“I was blown away when I ran a 4.28 as a freshman. But I’ve been that fast ever since. I work hard to maintain my speed with more weight,” Williams said. “Coach Neal Brown has already talked to me about returning kicks. I will be on punt return and kickoff return. It’s just crazy. If I can return a kickoff 50 yards, then the offense only has to go 50 yards (to score a touchdown). Field position plays a big part in the SEC, so I will be working hard to put my offense in the best position to score.”
He’s not worried about UK coming off a 2-10 season, either.
“There’s new things going on at Kentucky. They are going to win more games than last year. They probably won’t win the SEC this year. They will have to grind, but they will,” Williams said. “I think they can win games and shock a lot of people who think they won’t win.
“Then when we’ll roll in as freshmen, we can take off. 2014 is the year we’re probably going to compete for an SEC championship and get to a bowl game. Then in 2015 is going to be the year we’re going to be able to beat everybody and be able to play with anybody, win the SEC championship and possibly bring a national title back to Lexington. I really believe 2015 will be the break out year for Kentucky football. That’s the year we can take over the SEC.”
Williams, who calls the SEC the “minor leagues of the NFL” because of the talent, says being the highest rated recruit to commit to UK since 2006 won’t impact the way he plays.
“I’m going to stay on the grind and play hard my senior season and get ready to go to Kentucky and try to play there and help them win some games immediately,” he said.
By LARRY VAUGHT
He’s really not sure exactly where the nickname “Boom” came from other than one of his high school coaches started calling him that. However, recent Kentucky commit Stanley Williams has embraced the nickname and all it stands for.
“Every time I score, everybody just goes, ‘Boom’ when I score. The whole stadium does it,” said the Georgia standout who is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose running back. “I have fun with it. I love the nickname. Everybody calls me that now and I am fine with Boom or Stanley. I’m looking forward to bringing that name to UK, and when I score touchdowns in the stadium, having the whole stadium going ‘Boom’ when I score.”
He admits it would be “cool” to have his name listed on the roster as Boom.
“I think fans would really like that,” Williams said.
Williams wasn’t expecting to commit to UK when he did last week. However, he said his visit was “so great” he felt there was no need to wait any longer.
“I can’t wait to get back up here. I can’t wait until they have home games this year I can watch,” Williams said. “The whole atmosphere when I came up for my visit was great. Just the love everybody showed me. It was unbelievable. I don’t think I have ever been anywhere where the connection with all the coaches is like that. I just felt like it was a great home for me. Everything was great. Academics, athletics, football. They expect a lot out of players on the field and academically. It’s just a great school where I can get a great education.
“Me and my family felt that would be my home. My mom felt comfortable. My dad did. My sister did. That is was also helped trigger my commitment. We all felt like it was the right place for me.
“The coaches talk about the most loyal fans and the family atmosphere on campus. All those things they said were true. You don’t get many people to talk straight up with you about things, but the Kentucky staff was that way. Me and my mom were both really impressed. She loves Kentucky and can’t wait to get me rolling up there and I can’t wait to make Kentucky a big school in the SEC again.”
Williams, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds as a 175-pound freshman when he verbally committed to Georgia, had not heard from Kentucky before the new staff arrived. He knew about head coach Mark Stoops from his reputation at Florida State and UK running backs coach Chad Scott had recruited him for Texas Tech.
“I hadn’t even received any mail from Kentucky before. Hearing from Kentucky was something totally new to me and my family. Once they started recruiting me, they were really impressed with my film. I was definitely interested in trying to help Kentucky be one of the top schools in the SEC,” Williams said.
“I watched film of the offense and how they use their running backs. They spread guys out over the whole field so that defenses can’t have many guys in the box. That will let me operate in the middle behind my offensive linemen. The offense allows me to get in space and make plays. The coaches are looking for me to make plays and will put the ball in my hands to make plays. I’ll get to make plays one on one against linebackers and hopefully send out a lot of booms in the Kentucky stadium. Just looking at what (offensive coordinator Neal Brown and staff) ran at Texas Tech, they’ll let me set up my blocks and then it will be up to me to do some work and score.
“We will have a lot of mismatches. (Quarterback) Drew Barker will have so many weapons. I’ll do most of my work making plays and catching balls. I started trying to expand my game in spring practice so defenses could not get a feel for me at one position. Expect me to be all over the field making plays at Kentucky.”
He said he “clicked” with UK secondary coach Bradley Dale Peveto, his main recruiter. That was another reason he picked UK over Mississippi State, West Virginia, Arizona and Wisconsin, his other finalists after he de-committed from Georgia.
“I just wanted to be part of something great with coach Stoops,” Williams said. “It’s just an honor to be recruited by Kentucky. This is going to be the best recruiting class Kentucky has ever had. We have got a lot of great people. There are a lot of things going on, and more guys are going to come, too. Kentucky recruiting is just going crazy. To be honest, I’ve never seen a fan base like Kentucky. The fans are incredible and stick with the team. I can’t wait to play in front of those crazy fans.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Since he decided to return to Kentucky to join Mark Stoops’ staff, offensive coordinator Neal Brown has been busy recruiting, teaching his offense to UK’s returning players and assuring fans that he believes Kentucky can win, and win big, in the future.
He’ll be speaking to the Louisville Quarterback Club on Tuesday selling Stoops’ vision for Kentucky and projecting what could happen next season just as he did for a Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame fundraiser last week in Nicholasville.
But if you could ask Brown one question, what would it be? Nothing about a specific incoming recruit because he can’t answer those questions. However, let me know what other question you would like to ask and if get a chance, I’ll try to ask Brown some of the questions that fans like yourself would like to see him answer.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Orlando Sentinel college football recruiting analyst Chris Hays seems to know more than anyone about who UK coach Mark Stoops and his staff are recruiting in central Florida. He broke the news about the recent commitment of Florida linebacker Nick Firios to Kentucky and offered these insights on other possible UK targets in his area.
Question: Do you think UK could land anyone else in your area in this recruiting class?
Hays: “Other players in Central Florida who come to mind are a couple of Orlando Lake Nona teammates in 2014 wide receiver Ryan Sousa and 2015 quarterback Tucker Israel. These are two players who would fit well into the Air Raid attack (offensive coordinator) Neal Brown is bringing back. Sousa is one of the most impressive receivers in the state and had 92 catches for 1,600 yards last season. If Kentucky pursued him hard, he’d be interested. He currently favors Missouri and it’s similar affection for the passing game. Israel is setting passing records almost every game now, and his ability to pick apart defenses could fit right in at UK. His arm strength is suspect, but the deep ball isn’t what the Air Raid is necessarily all about. His recruitment had yet to get rolling, so we’ll see how it progresses.
“Cornerback Waynedrico Smith at Maitland Orangewood Christian is another possibility. He has a UK offer. He’s extremely athletic and a talented cover corner, but I’m not sure how high on the board he is for the Wildcats. The Wildcats are in the hunt with Lake Mary defensive lineman Adam Torres, whose interest in UK could pick up more so now that his good friend Firios is on board. Florida State and Miami appear to be leading with Torres, but it will be interesting to see how much influence the Firios decision will have.
“Statewide, there are several that Mark Stoops’ staff would love to have, but several who seem a little more in the Wildcats’ scope right now are Hallandale defensive back John Battle, Tampa Alonso tight end Marcus Mosely, Tallahassee Godby safety Deion Singleton, Tampa Catholic athlete T.J. Harrell, Miramar defensive back Andre Godfrey, East Gadsden defensive back JaJuan Perkins, defensive tackle Chris Nelson of Lakeland Victory Christian and possibly Plant City offensive lineman Montel McBride, who has some big-time schools in pursuit.”
Question: Anyone else?
Hays: “UK is also in the hunt with former Orlando East River offensive lineman Adam Duckett, a huge 6-foot-8, 350-pounder who did not qualify out of high school and ended up at Georgia Military. He’ll be a sophomore this year and sounds like he is doing well there. Great kid. One of my most favorite kids I have ever covered. He’s a down-home fishing and hunting and working-on-cars type of kid who has an infectious personality.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Orlando Sentinel college football recruiting analyst Chris Hays says recent Kentucky commit Nico Firios is “aggressive from sideline to sideline.”
The 220-pound linebacker from Longwood Lyman (Fla.) High School verbally committed to UK last week after making unofficial visits to Louisville and Kentucky.
“He’s strong, quick off the ball and gets in the backfield in a hurry,” Hays said. “He wraps up nicely and doesn’t miss many tackles despite his aggressive nature. He also only has his best years ahead of him. His coach, Jeff Gierke, says Nico would not have started for him two years ago, but he has blossomed into one of the top 10 linebackers in the state.”
Hays offered these other insights into Firios and UK football.
Question: Did Firios’ commitment to Kentucky surprise you at all?
Hays: “The commitment to Kentucky doesn’t surprise me, per se, as much as does the timing. I thought he was planning a few more visits and Notre Dame had been on his list. I could have also seen him picking Louisville, given Charlie Strong’s defensive structure, so Lexington folks must have put on a good show.”
Question: What is Kentucky continuing to do so well in your area to attract recruits as it did last year and now this year?
Hays: “As much as anything, the Kentucky staff seems to be showing kids they are honestly excited about what’s happening in Lexington and they are making kids feel they will be a big part of a new culture of Kentucky football. The staff is giving the hard sell and kids are buying into it, and these are coaches who have had positive results at other stops, so it doesn’t come off as just a bunch of rah-rah chatter.”
Question: Could Firios be an impact player immediately?
Hays: “If Firios is not an impact player within his first two seasons I’d be very surprised. Watch a couple of his jarring hits and that’s enough impact to sell you. He’s plays hard and works hard and just loves the game.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Even Mark Stoops can’t win every recruiting battle.
Cincinnati receiver Derek Kief picked defending national champion Alabama over Kentucky and Ohio State Sunday. The 6-5, 200-pound Kief is a four-star prospect who would have given UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown the big receiver he wants. Kief runs a 4.4 second 40-yard dash and that size and speed is why so many big-time programs wanted him.
Several other Ohio prep standouts who had committed to Kentucky, along with quarterback Drew Barker of Conner, had lobbied for Kief to join them at Kentucky and he praised UK fans on Twitter after he made his decision.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Ryan Hockman was a three-sport standout at Harrison (Ohio) High School who earned SuperPrep Magazine All-American honors as a quarterback and was named the Ohio Player of the Year in 1987 before going to the University of Kentucky to play his college football.
Now he runs Score 6 QB Academy in Seattle as has developed a reputation for helping quarterbacks improve. His list of clients includes Michigan’s Devin Gardner, the top-ranked quarterback in the 2010 recruiting class, and Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, the nation’s top overall prospect in the 2011 class.
He has also coached on the high school, college and professional level.
He’s heard and seen plenty already on Caldwell County junior quarterback Elijah Sindelar, who got a scholarship offer from Kentucky last week after his impressive performance at UK’s summer camp. Hockman has even given Sindelar’s name to Ohio State recruiters when he was asked about top quarterback prospects he knew, especially after another former UK quarterback, Freddie Maggard, raved about Sindelar.
“I haven’t seen him live, but he looked impressive on film. It’s hard to tell exactly on film, even with today’s quality of film. That’s why it is rare for a college coaches to offer a player (a scholarship) if they have not seen him live,” said Hockman, who currently lives in Seattle. “But I know Ohio State really likes him.
“He is really smooth. He was a three-sport star and has not really just focused on the position that much (he has now given up basketball and plays only football and baseball). People are intrigued by his ability and his athleticism. He’s raw, but you can see his ability. It won’t take long to master the mechanics of the footwork. Where guys struggle is if they are not a baseball player, they struggle mechanically up top. I know he will be fine. He does not have a long delivery for a baseball player. He is a good enough athlete to make adjustments. You can see that on film.”
Sindelar, who is already being projected as a possible first-round major league baseball draft pick, apparently will go to camp at Ohio State.
“If he goes up there and gets an offer like I think, look out. If you get an early offer from Ohio State, a lot can happen,” Hockman said.
Sindelar has good size, but Hockman says the recent success of quarterbacks like Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks) and Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M) have shown it is about creating space and not the size of the quarterback.
“If you are 6-4, you don’t have to create as much space. That will never change. But more of the attraction now is if the quarterback can move and is smooth and effortless. Sindelar has a burst when he needs it. He’s not a 4.5 (40 yard dash) guy. He’s not playing against Florida or SEC caliber athletes, but he still looks like a man among boys,” Hockman said. “When he has to, he has that burst he needs. He separates real fast. That’s more important to people than being a 4.5 guy. He’s not a project. He is not the type athlete Braxton Miller is, but he’s a smooth operator.
“I like guys that play baseball because of the number of throws they get from different arm slots. If you play in the infield, you have got to change your arm slot. In today’s offenses with all the quick screens, you have to have different arms slots to make throws. With the offense Kentucky runs now, the quarterback will almosts always be throwing through bodies on quick screens. Baseball guys like Sindelar can do that. Some others might struggle.”
Hockman sees Ohio State’s sudden interest in Sindelar, as well as John Hardin senior tackle Matt Elam, as a sign that new UK coach Mark Stoops’ recruiting success in Ohio could be troubling the Buckeyes and coach Urban Meyer.
“Just from afar, there are signals to me that Urban Meyer is a little irked or nervous. Going after Elijah is a big signal,” Hockman said. “Stoops is going into Ohio and picking off really good Ohio kids. It has been a long time since Kentucky has gone into Ohio and done that, so it is probably not sitting well with Urban. I am sure that has a little bit to do with Ohio State’s interest in Kentucky kids.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
He always liked Kentucky, but South Warren defensive lineman Adrian Middleton had a little extra motivation for making his commitment to UK Saturday — he didn’t want coach Mark Stoops to run out of scholarships. The 6-4, 275-pound Middleton became the 18th player in the 2014 class to verbally commit when he told Stoops Saturday that he wanted to play for the Wildcats.
“I just wanted to focus on my senior season and wanted recruiting out of the way,” said Middleton, a three-star prospect and the first Division I commit from his school since it opened three years ago. “I knew UK might be running out of scholarships. They are bringing in a lot of great recruits. Since UK was always No. 1 with me, I wanted to commit before they would run out.”
He went to camp at UK last week and said it only “confirmed” what he thought about the school and coaching staff.
“The coaches sounded very pleased when I committed,” Middleton said. “Coach Stoops was very happy and said he really wanted me to commit. (Offensive coordinator) Neal Brown was really happy, too. The reaction here has been great. My Twitter is kind of blowing up.”
Middleton is UK’s seventh commit in the last week. He chose Kentucky over Louisville, Indiana, Missouri, Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. Middleton and Conner quarterback Drew Barker are the only two in-state players in UK’s 2014 recruiting class, but John Hardin defensive lineman Matt Elam remains a priority recruit and has UK in his final five along with Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Louisville.
Middleton says committing to UK will change his summer plans “a little bit” as he turns his focus to his high school senior season.
“I don’t plan on going to any more camps or anything. My recruiting is over,” the defensive lineman said.
He’s still a bit surprised the way his stock has soared since his season ended.
“All this came out of nowhere. I did not really think I was all that good,” he said. “I guess it was my highlight film or something that changed this. I just feel lucky.”
He said it was a “big deal” to be the first Division I commit from South Warren.
“(Defensive coordinator) Brandon Smith has done a lot of work sending out films to help me. I appreciate that because it paid off,” Middleton said.