By LARRY VAUGHT
It’s not easy for any Kentucky football recruiting to overshadow basketball recruiting, especially when the basketball news involves the top-ranked center in the 2013 recruiting class.
Yet Cincinnati cornerback Jaleel Hytchye’s verbal commitment to new UK coach Mark Stoops over the weekend seemed to generate a bigger buzz among UK fans than center Dakari Johnson’s verbal commitment to coach John Calipari’s already dynamic 2013 recruiting haul.
“I was a little surprised at just how excited UK fans got,” said Hytchye. “I was not expecting that, but it is a blessing and I’ll go with that. It’s kind of fun.”
Fun? It was more than fun from him seeing the way Kentucky football fans reacted on various social media to Stoops’ first high school commitment. On Twitter, @TheRealLeel_9 (his screen name)started getting messages from UK fans as soon as he made his commitment public Saturday night.
Hytchye — his father is Cuban and that’s where his name come froms — spent a lot of time over the weekend seeing what he could do to help UK’s recruiting as well. He made a phone call to Franklin County receiver Ryan Timmons, who seems down to Ohio State and Kentucky, urging him to play at Kentucky. He planned sometime Sunday to reach out to junior college defensive tackle Ben Bradley, who visited UK Saturday and was at Auburn Sunday.
He says he “hit it off” with Florida cornerback Blake McClain, who has committed to UK, and immediately joined him in working on Asianti Woulard, McClain’s teammate and one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks who also started drawing attention from Florida last week.
“I watched Asianti and know he is a great quarterback,” Hytchye said. “Bradley, we need those defensive linemen. Anybody who can hit, I want on our team. I know a couple of guys from Ohio who are considering Kentucky, so I am going to hit them up.”
What did Timmons, who did not have any real interest in UK until after the coaching change, tell him?
“He is pretty much wrapping it up. I feel really good with where he is at with Kentucky, but that is his thing. I want him to come on board and I’m hoping he does. Me and him could be good friends and I know he is really a good player. But I don’t want to say too much about his recruiting. That’s for him to do,” Hytchye, who is ranked as a four-star player by some recruiting services, said.