Like Drew Barker two years ago, homegrown product Drake Jackson has become the unofficial leader of UK’s recruiting efforts for 2016. Considered by many to be the nation’s top center prospect, the Woodford County standout is one of Stoops’ earliest commitments in the junior class and could have a strong influence on more to follow.
Some of the targets to keep an eye on will be Carver (Ga.) defensive tackle T.J. London. The 6-foot-2, 305-pound stud has considered UK to be his leader for quite some time now, and it’s possible he could make his decision this weekend.
Pickerington Central (Ohio) defensive end/outside linebacker Jaylin Bannerman is also visiting this weekend. He originally planned to visit the Cats last week, but the winter storm prevented him from making the trip. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound hybrid is being projected as an outside linebacker by the UK staff. I've been told by sources the staff loves this kid’s potential and could see him playing similar role as soon-to-be NFL draft pick Alvin “Bud” Dupree.
Other visitors this weekend include: Brendan Scales, Dakota Holtzclaw, Brock Miller, Erroll Thompson and Austin Conrad, the latter being the younger brother of UK signee C.J. Conrad. Among those prospects, Holtzclaw believes an offer could come this weekend from the staff.
If London and Bannerman were to commit to the Cats, UK would have 13 commitments on the board before the calendar even turns to March. That would put UK more than halfway to what is expected to be a class of 22-23 recruits next February. Only nine or 10 open scholarships would remain, so players taking a close look at the Cats would have to strongly consider jumping on board early.
Here is how I can see the class rounding out:
One quarterback. Top targets are Messiah deWeaver and Austin Kendall. Word around Lexington is the staff feels good about potentially flipping Austin Kendall from Tennessee. The Vols commit will be visiting Knoxville this weekend.
The running back position is likely filled.
Tight end is a position that may or may not be filled. Depends on the numbers and how certain players develop. If the staff would take another tight end, my guess would be Noah Davis.
Two more wide receivers, although it is difficult to narrow the field at who the prime targets might be at this time.
D-Line would be in good shape if London joins the mix. The Cats would likely take one more player up front. The same may also be said for linebacker if Bannerman gives his verbal.
Defensive backs will always be a top priority with Stoops and the way the college game has evolved. The Cats are in pretty good shape here, but look for at least one more to go on the board.