LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky signed seven players from Ohio in its 2017 recruiting class, and coach Mark Stoops and his staff are going back to the Buckeye State for some of their most coveted 2018 targets.
Recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach Vince Marrow is responsible for the surge in Ohio prospects to Kentucky. Three of the top four commits in the Wildcats’ 2017 class — Lynn Bowden, JaVonte Richardson and Tyrell Ajian — are from Ohio.
Kentucky will try to sign a similar number come February, each ranked in the top 300 nationally.
Big three in Ohio
A 6-foot-6, 205-pound wide receiver, Smith would be among the biggest gets in Stoops’ tenure. Smith is the No. 2 athlete in the class and No. 3 Ohio prospect, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. A fringe top-100 prospect, Smith is adamant about playing wide receiver, as he told Cleveland.com on Saturday night.
“I honestly don’t want to play tight end,” Smith said. “I have no interest in playing tight end at the next level. I have always been a wide receiver. I look like a wide receiver, I run like a wide receiver and do everything like a receiver on the field.”
A 4-star prospect from Wayne High in Dayton, Smith tweeted that he’ll be at Kentucky’s Blue-White spring game at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday.
— BLUE SMITH⁶? (@bluesmith_) April 10, 2017
Smith holds offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Tennessee, but 247Sports’ crystal ball gives Kentucky a 90 percent chance to land him.
A 4-star outside linebacker prospect, Peters is a top-300 national prospect and the No. 19 outside linebacker in the 2018 recruiting class. Peters plays for Lakota West High in West Chester.
Like Smith, Peters could be deciding between Kentucky and Ohio State. The Wildcats appear to have the advantage. 247Sports’ crystal ball gives Kentucky a 67 percent chance of landing Peters and Ohio State a 33 percent chance. The Buckeyes have yet to make an offer to Peters.
Peters holds offers from SEC schools including Alabama, LSU, Florida and Tennessee. Like Smith, he expects to attend the Blue-White game on Friday.
Taylor rounds out Kentucky’s trifecta of Ohio prospects. A 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end, Taylor holds offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, but the Wildcats appear to be in the mix.
Steve Wiltfong, director of recruiting for 247Sports, predicted Taylor to Kentucky on Sunday. Ohio State has a 56 percent chance to land Taylor, according to 247Sports’ crystal ball, followed by Kentucky at 33 percent.
Taylor is a 4-star prospect, the No. 8 tight end prospect in the country and No. 6 overall prospect in Ohio, according to 247Sports.
Smith, Peters and Taylor all rank higher than any current 2018 Kentucky commit.
Jarren Williams update
A dual-threat quarterback, Jarren Williams is the original member of Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class. Williams signed in June 2016 and stayed firm in his commitment despite a number of big-time offers. The latest came on Sunday.
Blessed to recieve an offer from Arizona State University pic.twitter.com/Coj3AXGGF0
— Jarren Williams (@Jarren2Williams) April 9, 2017
Arizona State joins a long list of schools that made offers to Williams. There are plenty of SEC suitors as well: LSU, Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Missouri.
A Lawrenceville, Ga., native, Williams is the 18th-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the 2018 recruiting class. Williams’ recruitment will be one to watch.
Where Kentucky’s 2018 class is ranked
Class breakdown (5 commits)
Geography of Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class