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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.”