Kentucky shocked the football recruiting world when the Wildcats signed elite junior college defensive end Za'Darius Smith in December only two weeks after introducing Mark Stoops as the new head coach in Lexington.
Stoops & Co. aren't done at East Mississippi Community College, either. The UK staff is hoping lightning strikes twice with another highly-regarded prospect out of that program.
Jarran Reed, a 6-foot-4, 310-pound defensive tackle with an offer sheet that includes programs like Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, Texas Tech, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, says he will now visit UK just days before making his final decision.
"I'll be going up there for an official visit on January 25th," Reed said Saturday evening from his North Carolina home. "I've got Florida on the 11th, North Carolina on the 18th and Kentucky on the 25th, then I'll be making my decision."
He originally played at Goldsboro (N.C.) High School, but went to Hargrave Military Academy to work on his academics. After transferring to EMCC, Reed committed to North Carolina in June but switched to Ole Miss in December. The Rebels, however, picked up another player at his position, and he opted to take a longer look at some other programs where more immediate playing time might be available.
"That's one of the big things with Kentucky," he said. "I know they have a need for me, and it's my old coach from down at East Mississippi (new UK assistant Jimmy Brumbaugh) who is recruiting me for them, so I know I can trust what he says. We have a real good bond, and I've learned a lot from him this last year. I know he's a guy who would be looking out for me, and he already knows the things I need to be working on to get to the next level.
"It would be nice to keep playing for (Brumbaugh) if things work out and Kentucky turns out to be the best fit for me."
Those aren't the only advantages the Wildcats may hold.
"Za'Darius wasn't just my teammate," Reed said, "he was my roommate, too.
"We're real tight. We've been talking about it a lot since coach Brumbaugh got the job. We pretty much know how things will go. We talk about how it would be fun to go up to Kentucky together and help them start a new tradition on defense."
The hiring of Stoops has sent a signal to many defensive prospects that the culture is changing at UK.
"When you hear his name, you think defense," Reed said. "He's got a great track record. I think Kentucky's going to be on the come-up. A lot of recruits are going to start speculating about them."
Asked about the big key when he comes to Lexington for his UK official visit, Reed said: "How I fit in with the players up there; just an overall feel for the atmosphere."
Reed had 34 tackles, four tackles for loss, four quarterback hurries and one sack as a freshman at EMCC. He'll have three years of eligibility remaining when he enrolls at his new school in the summer.
Cats target another top juco D-Lineman
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