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Considering the impact Kentucky had made in Ohio since Mark Stoops became head coach, it looked like UK might not continue to stockpile players from Georgia as it had done under previous coaches Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips.
But when I asked Stoops is UK was abandoning Georgia, he assured me that was not the case. To verify that, UK now has its first Georgia commit in its 2014 recruiting class — cornerback Jared Tucker of Stephenson High in Stone Mountain, Ga.
His commitment had been expected and even though he’s “only” a three-star prospect, the 5-11, 160-pound Tucker is ranked as the nation’s 44th best safety by Rivals.com and the 62nd best cornerback by Scout.com. That’s why — believe it or not — Kentucky’s recruiting class is now ranked 10th nationally. Maybe UK won’t be there when signing day gets here in February, but this is still rare, rare territory for Kentucky football.
Tucker, who committed while he was on an unofficial visit in Lexington, had an impressive list of offers for a three-star player. They included seven other SEC schools — Florida, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. But he also had offers from Louisville, Miami, Cincinnati, Michigan State, North Carolina State, South Florida and West Virginia.
Don’t expect those schools to go away, either. Tucker had seven interceptions last year, runs the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds and is an aggressive defender. Kentucky assistant Bradley Dale Peveto, who coaches safeties, and UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot will have to fend off those schools the next eight months.
But one plus could be that Tucker has been familiar with Kentucky for a long time. He was in the stands two years ago when receiver turned quarterback Matt Roark led UK to a historic win over Tennessee in the 2011 season’s final game. He also comes from the high school as current UK players Raymond Sanders, Ronnie Shields, DeMarcus Sweat and Shawn Blaylock.