LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky was once just another offer Michael Nesbitt wanted to add to his list.
The cornerback from Boyd Anderson High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., once told Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran that the Wildcats were in his top-3, even though that wasn’t the case at the time. But as Nesbitt visited Kentucky and became comfortable with Gran and coach Mark Stoops, Kentucky’s offer stood out from the other 23 schools in pursuit.
Nesbitt, a consensus 3-star prospect, is the 83-ranked corner in the 2017 class, according to 247Sports. He was one of eight Sunshine State signees for Kentucky in the class.
SEC Country spoke with Nesbitt as part of the Next Generation series in which we’ll catch up with several signees in Kentucky’s 2017 class. Our conversation focused on his recruitment.
Q: What’re you focusing on between now and when you get to campus?
A: I’m coming in with an eager mindset to start and see the field early so I can help my team win.
Q: What school came in second for you behind Kentucky?
A: That’s hard because when I took the visit at Kentucky I kind of shut down my whole recruiting process. I wasn’t interested in no schools. But schools I visited before Kentucky? I would say, that’s tough — probably LSU. It was my dream school when I was smaller. So, once I got it, it was ‘I’m gonna go to this school.’ But I really had to sort out my options. It was a DB school and I think I was one of the greatest DBs to play at my school. I think I was gonna make a big impact at a school that I enjoyed all my life.
Q: What about Kentucky made you confident enough to shut down your recruitment?
A: Actually the first visit I took was at a camp. I was coming up from Florida. I was young and I didn’t expect the facilities to be how they looked now. When I thought of Kentucky, I thought it was like an old country town. Coming in, I didn’t expect the stadium and school to look like that. So, you know, that really opened my eyes up. And then how the coaches embraced me. They took me in. That really opened my eyes a lot. They showed a lot of love.
Q: What schools were still trying to recruit you even after you shut things down?
A: West Virginia was really on me. West Virginia, Pitt, and like I said, LSU. Actually Florida State was in the picture earlier but they kinda canceled out. LSU, Pitt and West Virginia were still in the picture. Once I committed, they acted like they didn’t care. I had some choices.
Q: Were there any rumors going around during your recruitment?
A: I had a couple of people doubting my skill, saying I wasn’t fast enough to play corner.
Q: With Mark Stoops being a former defensive back and having coached future NFL DBs at Miami and Florida State, did that make you more comfortable?
A: Yeah, that was one of the biggest things, the head coach’s background. I love his background. He coached some good DBs. I think coming from South Florida, he can put me in a place I want to go. I’m gonna put my trust in him and he’s gonna do what he does best.
Q: What was your relationship like with Eddie Gran during the process and how did he connect with you?
A: His loyalty. He’s always been loyal since Day 1. It’s weird because, OK in Florida, everybody wants an offer. They want this offer, this offer. They might not want to go to the school, but they’ll tell a coach, ‘OK I want this offer.’ That’s kind of what I was doing. I was trying to rack up as many offers as I can and just get my options right. But as I was talking to coach Eddie Gran one day, I told him, ‘Yes, coach, you guys will be in my top 3.’ They probably would’ve been in my top 6 back then but I told him top 3. But as I went along, I started gaining trust in the program and really feeling the program. I started thinking to myself like this school really could be for me. From that point on I was all in.
Q: Walk me through that timeline. When did you first want that offer just for the sake of wanting it, and when did Kentucky become a serious contender?
A: It was in the middle of the summer. I think it was in June I got an offer. I was still getting a lot of offers. Then I went to the camp later on that summer. I did good at the camp and they showed me around. Once they showed me around, I started saying, ‘Really, this school may be in my top 3.’ I had to open my eyes.
Q: There’s more players from Florida in this class than any other state. What do you think is behind that?
A: I think it’s a big part about Eddie Gran. It was Eddie Gran that was getting all the Florida guys, but the games they played the previous season, even the games they lost, there were a couple games they lost against good teams that were against good teams. You have to look at that. If you look at the loss, you put yourself in their shoes and say, ‘What can I do to help in that situation?’ Also, players from Florida don’t really like to going to all the big schools. They wanna make an impact and show who they really are. Being at Kentucky, it’s not the best school in the country, but I believe players from Florida can make it better.
Q: So how much did last season’s success as far as making a bowl game influence your decision?
A: I live by the motto, ‘Always finish strong.’ At the beginning of the season they wasn’t winning all the games. But by the end of the season, coming into the Louisville game, how they beat Louisville, they didn’t let anything stop them even though they were going against a Heisman winner. They still played. It showed up in everybody’s eyes that that team had something special.
More from our Next Generation series
- Eddie Gran’s persistence flipped DE Chris Whittaker to Kentucky
- Chance to play in the SEC lured Josh Ali to Lexington
- Still new to the game, Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald made an early impression on Kentucky
- Position promise gave Wildcats an edge with JaVonte Richardson
- Tyrell Ajian got the ‘gut feeling’ he needed from Kentucky’s coaches
- Big Ten schools stood out, but Wildcats proved best for LB Alex King
- Gone from a dying city, Kentucky CB Lonnie Johnson finds life in Lexington
- Top Kentucky football signee Lynn Bowden not focused on comparisons