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.”