SHANE SHACKLEFORD: UK Football's Recruiting Class Has Lots of Promise
On the heels of their first 10-win season since 1977 and a victory in the Citrus Bowl, the Kentucky Wildcats carried that momentum onto the recruiting trail and national signing day, signing 22 new recruits to don the blue and white next season in Lexington.
Of the 22, five future Wildcats were four-star recruits and eleven were three-stars. UK also recruiting inside Kentucky, signing star linebackers Jared Casey and JJ Weaver as well as tackle Eli Cox.
The Cats addressed several needs with this 2019 class, including defensive backs and linebackers where they must replace their entire secondary and All-American linebacker Josh Allen and former All-SEC performer Jordan Jones.
Following is a brief rundown of the members of the class, courtesy of UK Media Relations.
Marquez Bembry, Outside Linebacker, 6-3, 240, So-JC, Stone Mountain, Ga. (Mount Vernon Presbyterian/Jones County JC) – Rated a three-star pass-rushing specialist out of high school by each of the major recruiting services … Chose Kentucky over Ole Miss and Tennessee. Cavon Butler, Defensive Lineman, 6-3, 300, Fr-HS, Toledo, Ohio (Whitmer) – A three-star recruit, who is considered a top-50 interior defensive lineman by Rivals.com and 247sports.com and No. 29 player in Ohio by Rivals … Recruiting finalists were Michigan State and Ohio State before tabbing the Wildcats. Jared Casey, Outside Linebacker, 6-3, 230, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Ballard) – A four-star prospect by all of the major recruiting services … Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 15 outside linebacker nationally ... Named first-team All-State defense by the Courier Journal and the Associated Press …Chose UK over Oregon and Louisville. Eli Cox, Offensive Line, 6-4, 300, Fr-HS, Nicholasville, Ky. (West Jessamine) – A three-star recruit by 247sports.com and Rivals.com … Ranked as the No. 14 Kentucky prospect in the class of 2019 by 247Sports … Named to first-team All-State offense by the Associated Press … Chose UK over Cincinnati, Marshall, Ohio and Toledo. Tae Tae Crumes, Wide Receiver, 6-2, 180, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Butler) – A quality in-state prospect that is ranked as one of the top 10 players in the Commonwealth of Kentucky by Rivals.com and 247sports.com … Named to first-team All-State offense by the Associated Press …Chose Kentucky over Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon and Pitt. M.J. (Marlin) Devonshire, Cornerback, 5-11, 180, Fr-HS, Aliquippa, Pa. (Aliquippa) – Four-star prospect by Rivals … Chose Kentucky over Pittsburgh, Penn State and Ohio State. Taj Dodson, Defensive Back, 6-2, 190, Fr-HS, Union Grove, Ga. (Creekside) – A consensus three-star recruit by all the major recruiting services … Chose Kentucky over Syracuse, Louisville and Ole Miss .. First name is pronounced the same as Taj Mahal. Moses Douglass, Defensive Back, 6-2, 200, Fr-HS, Springfield, Ohio (Springfield) – Four-star recruit and one the nation’s top-30 safety prospects by Rivals.com and 247sports.com … The No. 7 prospect in Ohio and one of the nation’s top 300 players by Rivals... Coached by his father, Maurice, at Springfield … Maurice was a defensive back at Kentucky in 1984-85 and went on to an 11-year NFL career with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants … Chose Kentucky over Georgia Tech, Louisville and Michigan State. Brandin Echols, Defensive Back, 6-0, 180, Jr-JC, Southaven, Miss. (Southaven/Northwest Mississippi CC) –A three-star recruit who ranks as the fifth-best cornerback among junior college recruits by Rivals.com … Earned NJCAA second- team All-America honors ... Chose Kentucky over offers from Ole Miss, Houston and Memphis … Will have two years of eligibility remaining. Jalen Geiger, Defensive Back, 6-1, 190, Fr-HS, Columbia, S.C. (Spring Valley) – … A three-star defensive back by 247Sports.com … Considered the No. 9 overall recruit and No. 2 corner in the state of South Carolina by Rivals.com …Chose Kentucky over South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina.
Isaiah Gibson, Defensive Line, 6-4, 300, Fr-HS, Springfield, Ohio (Springfield) – Consensus choice as one of the nation’s top-50 defensive tackles and one of the top 33 players in Ohio by all the major recruiting services … Rated as high as the No. 32 DT by 247sports.com and No. 17 in Ohio by ESPN.com … Chose Kentucky over Wisconsin, Purdue, Florida and Louisville … Joins high school teammate and fellow signee Moses Douglass.
Amani Gilmore, Quarterback, 6-2, 200, Fr-HS, Amite, La. (Amite) – A three-star dual-threat quarterback … 247Sports.com ranks him as the No. 42 pro-style quarterback nationally in the class of 2019 … Chose UK over Tennessee.
DeMarcus Harris, Wide receiver, 6-1, 180, Fr-HS, Vero Beach, Fla. (Vero Beach) – Considered one of the nation’s top 150 receivers … A three-star recruit according to 247sports.com and ESPN.com … Chose Kentucky over Syracuse, Purdue and UCF.
Shawn’Kel Knight-Goff, Linebacker, 6-2, 220, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Doss Magnet Career Academy) – Ranks as one of the top 10 players in the state of Kentucky … A three-star prospect by both Rivals.com and 247Sports.com … 247Sports.com ranks him as one of the 50 best weakside defensive ends in the nation … Chose Kentucky over Louisville and Purdue.
K.D. McDaniel, Outside Linebacker, 6-2, 240, Fr-HS, Tifton, Ga. (Tift County) – Consensus pick as one of the nation’s top-40 outside linebackers and one of the top-61 players in Georgia by Rivals, 247sports and ESPN … Chose Kentucky over Ole Miss, Tennessee and South Carolina.
Quandre Mosely, Defensive Back, 6-2, 180, Jr-JC, Brunswick, Ga. (Glynn Academy/Eastern Arizona CC) - Chose Kentucky over Utah and Oregon.
Nik Ognenovic, Tight End, 6-5, 250, Fr-HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons) – A three-star prospect by all of the major recruiting experts and considered one of the nation’s top tight ends … Chose Kentucky over Pitt, Boston College and Louisville.
Jake Pope, Offensive Line, 6-7, 290, Fr-HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas) – A three-star tackle by all of the major recruiting services … Listed as one of Florida’s top 100 players … Chose Kentucky over Michigan State and N.C. State.
Nik Scalzo, Quarterback, 6-0, 175, Fr-HS, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons) – A three-star prospect by all of the major recruiting services.
Travis Tisdale, Running Back, 5-9, 175, Fr-HS, Valdosta, Ga. (Lowndes) – A four-star recruit and one of the nation’s top-300 players by ESPN … The nation’s No. 18 running back by ESPN and the No. 11 all-purpose back nationally by Rivals … Rated as high as the No. 33 prospect in Georgia ... Chose Kentucky over Nebraska, Ole Miss and Penn State.
J.J. Weaver, Outside Linebacker, 6-5, 240, Fr-HS, Louisville, Ky. (Moore Traditional) – One of the nation’s best linebacker prospects, ranking as the 213th best player in the nation according to Rivals … The site also has Weaver as the 14th best player in the class at his position and the fourth-best prospect in the state of Kentucky … Rated as a four-star prospect by Rivals and 247sports … Chose Kentucky over Louisville, Miami and Purdue.
Tra Wilkins, Linebacker, 6-0, 215, Fr-HS, Stone Mountain, Ga. (Stephenson) – Highly recruited linebacker who chose Kentucky over Louisville, Arkansas and South Carolina … The nation’s No. 46 inside linebacker by 247sports and No. 69 outside linebacker by ESPN … One of the top-100 players in the talent-rich state of Georgia by both selectors.