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By LARRY VAUGHT
Since he was the first player to give Mark Stoops a verbal commitment after he became Kentucky’s head coach, Cincinnati cornerback Jalell Hytchye admits he does take a bit of pride in the way UK’s recruiting has gone the last nine months.
“The research I did on coach Stoops and (defensive coordinator) coach (D.J.) Eliot and the backgrounds they had and the teams they had come from … when the built the staff, all the coaches came from winning environments,” said Hytchye. “I knew the foundation would be built. We will be better. We can compete this year, without a doubt.
“I just followed the leaders, coach Stoops and coach Eliot. I talked to them. I knew where I wanted to go. I was looking for the ‘it’ factor and they gave it to me. I saw what they were putting in place, but the story is still being written. I am really excited about what is going on. It is a blessing just to be here. I have dreamed about this since I was a little kid. It’s just great to be here with these coaches and all that is about to take place.”
The “story” being written at Kentucky looks to get better, too, since UK currently has a top-five ranked 2014 recruiting class.
“I knew it. I believed. I believed these coaches could do that,” Hytchye, who openly lobbied for other recruits to follow him to Kentucky, said.
He was a talented athlete who also had a successful track career at La Salle High School in Cincinnati along with being ranked of the nation’s top-25 cornerbacks by ESPN.com. He has been timed at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He had two interceptions and one fumble recovery last season and making four interceptions and breaking up 14 passes as a junior in the highly competitive Greater Catholic League.
He came to UK expecting to compete for playing time, especially with the Wildcats’ lack of secondary depth, and has not been overwhelmed by anything yet.
“It is not really that hard. It is just a new environment and you have to adjust. It might be harder for other people, but I adjust quick. It was not that tough for me to be honest with you,” he said. “The summer workouts were great. It is more of a speed workout and a different aspect than just pounding like you did in high school. I loved it. I feel great, recovered faster and got stronger, faster. Everybody got stronger, you could see that.”
Hytchye says he doesn’t “like to talk about myself too much” when asked what he thinks makes him a solid cornerback, especially in the SEC.
“Just the speed. I have some long arms. I don’t want to harp on myself too much. Just speed and long arms. I can pick up the concept and learn the fundamentals of how to play corner and hopefully earn a spot on field,” Hytchye said.
Could a freshman start in the secondary?
“We’ll see. I know it is possible,” Hytchye laughed and said.