LEXINGTON, Ky. — The spring semester starts Wednesday, which means the early enrollees of Kentucky’s 2017 recruiting class will be getting to campus this week.
Seven of Kentucky’s current 22 commits are expected to start class in the spring. Coach Mark Stoops and his staff have compiled the 23rd-ranked class nationally in what is expected to be the best class since Stoops arrived in Lexington.
Here’s a look at what each of the early enrollees brings.
The pro-style quarterback from Akron, Ohio, is Kentucky’s top-ranked early enrollee and the 5th-ranked player in the Cats’ 2017 class.
Clark was originally committed to Ohio State and the decision was serious enough to lead him to get a tattoo of the school’s scarlet block “O.” But tight ends coach Vince Marrow never stopped recruiting Clark and it paid off in a big way as he flipped to Kentucky in late October.
The 6-foot-4, 223-pound quarterback is built similarly to quarterback Drew Barker, and his skill set could be reminiscent of the former starter. Clark likely will redshirt in 2017, as he’ll at least be behind Stephen Johnson, Barker and Gunnar Hoak on the depth chart.
Clark led Archbishop Hoban (Akron, Ohio) to a state championship this past fall and completed his postgame interview with a UK towel draped around his neck.
— TWC SportsChannel OH (@TWCSportsOH) December 4, 2016
Koback is the lone running back in Kentucky’s 2017 class. The 5-foot-11, 191-pound back is the No. 9 prospect in the incoming class and another Ohio recruit pulled in by Marrow.
The Wildcats’ backfield is a little more open with Boom Williams’ departure to the NFL draft. Koback will look to be in the mix with Benny Snell, A.J. Rose and Sihiem King.
Koback broke his leg in a high school game in September and said he wouldn’t begin running until he got to Lexington so the medical and training staff could monitor him. There’s no word on what his availability will be during spring football.
Thomas is the 11th-ranked incoming prospect and second-best receiver of Kentucky’s class behind JaVonte Richardson. Thomas, a Hollywood, Fla., native, is one of seven Florida commitments in the 2017 class.
Thomas committed in July and chose Kentucky over Vanderbilt. He’ll be fighting for a spot in a deep group of returning receivers including Jeff Badet, Garrett Johnson, Dorian Baker, Tavin Richardson, Blake Bone and Kayaune Ross.
Johnson is one of two junior college commitments in the class, and while listed as a safety, he could slide over to corner to begin his Kentucky career.
From Garden City Community College in Kansas, Johnson was the No. 70 JUCO prospect in the class and fourth at his position. He could bring immediate depth behind starting cornerback duo Chris Westry and Derrick Baity.
Johnson, at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, fits the mold of the big corners Stoops has come to like. The Gary, Ind., native picked Kentucky over Georgia, West Virginia and Memphis.
There’s a lack of linebackers in Kentucky’s incoming class, as Davis is the only one listed among the 22 commits. It would make sense for Stoops and Co. to make a push at another before National Signing Day, but for now the pressure is on Davis.
The Ludowici, Ga., native has been committed to Kentucky since March. He held offers from Louisville, Georgia Tech and Purdue. Davis is listed at 6-foot-3 and 206 pounds. It’s unlikely he’ll enter the rotation in 2017, but a redshirt year could have him ready to go after that.
Wood, from down the road at Lexington’s Lafayette High School, is one of the more interesting commitments in the class. Wood was a dynamic high school quarterback, but it was unclear if he’d be able to play the position at the college level.
That’s no longer a question as the Cats plan to give him a shot. He doesn’t fit the pro-style system offensive coordinator Eddie Gran has set up, but his strengths could be well used in the wildcat formation.
Wood is the 4th-ranked prospect from the state and he’s surely doing his best to flip high school teammate Jedrick Wills from Alabama to Kentucky.
Dort is one of four cornerbacks in the 2017 class including Johnson if he does indeed slide over from safety. Dort, a 3-star prospect from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., is another Gran-led commitment from the Sunshine State.
Dort is a bit smaller than other Kentucky corners on the roster at 6-foot-1 and 165 pounds. He chose Kentucky over Cincinnati.