Four-star DE is UK's first commit for 2014

Four-star Opp (Ala.) High School defensive end Denzel Ware became Kentucky's first verbal commitment in the Class of 2014 on Tuesday. Read more about why the former Florida State commit decided to follow Mark Stoops to Lexington in this KyScout update.

Kentucky's impressive recruiting momentum under Mark Stoops & Co. kept rolling on Tuesday when four-star Opp (Ala.) High School linebacker/defensive end Denzel Ware announced his verbal commitment to the Wildcats.

Ware (6-3, 215, 4.55) became the Wildcats' first pledge in the Class of 2014 without ever setting foot on the UK campus.

What made that possible?

"Coach Stoops and coach (D.J.) Eliot," Ware said. "I have a great relationship with those guys. They were the big reason why I committed to Florida State (in September 2012). When they got the job up at Kentucky, I started thinking real hard about how much I liked those guys and how much I wanted to play for them. I didn't need to take a visit or anything. I know it's a nice place and a good school. I just based my decision on the coaches. I've got total faith in them."

Asked how the staff reacted when he told them he wanted to be a Wildcat, Ware said: "They were fired up. It got me even more excited."

The news will send some additional shockwaves through the college football recruiting world. Kentucky had already won battles against programs like Florida, Ohio State and USC earlier this month on national signing day. Now the Wildcats have landed a player who held offers from programs like Alabama, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Texas and USC.

"I was glad to be the first commmit (for Kentucky)," Ware said. "I hope I'm going to get something big started. I know they're recruiting a lot of good players now. With these coaches, we're going to do some great things at Kentucky."

Asked what qualities Stoops possesses that enabled him to form such a strong relationship, Ware said: "I like how he doesn't sugarcoat anything. He's real with you. He tells you hard work is the only way, but you can do great things if you're willing to work. I've always liked that about him."

Ware is currently rated the No. 3 outside linebacker prospect in the nation by FOX Sport Next and Scout, although he says he is being projected as a defensive end by the new UK staff.

"They love how I come off the edge and attack the quarterback," he said. "That's my specialty, putting the quarterback down. I liked how their system at Florida State allowed my position to rush the quarterback. Now they're taking it up there to Kentucky. It's perfect for me."

Ware played at Crestview High School in Florida before moving to Alabama. He set a school record with 48 career sacks in only two years.

He said his focus will now turn to "adding more weight and strength" to his frame. He plans to visit UK for the first time in the spring or summer.

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