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By LARRY VAUGHT
Lakota West offensive lineman Kyle Meadows know plenty about Kentucky’s most recent verbal commitment, junior running back Mikel Horton.
Meadows, who signed with UK in February, blocked for Horton last season when he ran for 1,003 yards and 13 touchdowns. The 6-1, 230-pound Horton ranks among the nation’s top running backs and had scholarship offers from Florida State, Arkansas, Boston College, Vanderbilt, Louisville, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota, Kent State, Bowling Green, Cincinnati , Toledo, Western Michigan and Miami (Ohio). He had received interest from Penn State and Michigan State. He had also visited Alabama and Mississippi State.
Horton, who plans to graduate in December and enroll at Kentucky in January, looks like a big back — and is — but Meadows says he is athletic and agile.
“He is an unexpected playmaker,” Meadows said. “Since he is so big for a running back, you expect him to be slow or have not footwork. But he’s amazing. He has power plus speed. Last season was his first season really being as versatile as he could. He was used for pass blocking, running cutbacks, just doing whatever. He has another year to improve on that, but he’s a true athlete.
“You have to see him play in person to really appreciate him. Based on appearances, he might look that great when you just see him. But he’s doing something right to have the status that he does and if you see him play, you’ll know why. He is the kind of guy you love to block for. All he does before a game is say, ‘Open a hole and, I’ve got you.’ I do it and he runs for days. He’s really good.”
Horton, who made his commitment at the Rivals Under Armour All-American Camp Saturday, was in Lexington for the UK Blue-White Game that attracted over 50,000 fans and told Meadows how impressed he was and that it compared to spring games he saw at Alabama and Tennessee.
“He said he didn’t see any difference between Kentucky and the so-called top-notch SEC schools, and I agree,” Meadows said.
Kentucky was Horton’s first Southeastern Conference offer and he quickly built a relationship with coach Mark Stoops and assistant Vince Marrow, UK’s lead recruiter in Ohio.
He is Kentucky’s third verbal commit from Ohio in the 2014 recruiting class and others could be close to making the same decision. Meadows has communicated with many of the potential 2014 recruits.
“I give them advice. I don’t really make the decision. I tell them what is good about Kentucky, but I don’t put down other colleges,” Meadows said. “I just tell them what all is going on at Kentucky.”
What is right in his opinion is the “Kentucky fan base” from what he’s seen.
“As soon as those guys stepped out on the field for the spring game, they could feel the excitement and everything I was telling them,” Meadows said. “It’s just the general hospitality around the program. I am sold on that and the coaching staff and players themselves.
“I wasn’t surprised by the spring game crowed. I was expecting it and told guys (Ohio recruits) to expect that. It just makes me feel even better about next year. Just imagine how many we will get for a real home game. We are also getting more people committed, and that excites me. We are getting de-commits from people that want to come to us. We are getting well known players like Mikel to come to Kentucky that have gone to almost any school. Kentucky is getting it done and that’s what I tell recruits like Mikel.”