Four Downs: Kentucky Wildcats National Signing Day Primer

What to expect from the Kentucky Wildcats on National Signing Day

In this edition of All Wildcats' "Four Downs," we take a look at some of the biggest storylines for Mark Stoops & Co. as they prepare for National Signing Day on Wednesday...

1. The Headliners

Kentucky's impressive 2017 signing class has no shortage of potential future stars. Four-star Ohio wide receiver Lynn Bowden is the headliner on the offensive side of the ball. The Cats beat out top programs like Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee and West Virginia for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Warren G. Harding standout. The dynamic athlete is ranked by Scout as the top wide receiver prospect in the Midwest. He is considered the No. 60 player in the Class of 2017. With the unexpected grad transfer of Jeff Badet pending, Bowden's addition could loom large for the UK passing attack this season. On the other side of the ball, the Cats made defensive end a huge priority in this class and came away with one of the best groups they've ever had with six commitments. The headliners are four-star Maryland end Joshua Paschal (highlight video above) and three-star Florida end Jordan Wright, who could bring some much-needed pass rush to UK defense within the next two years. You can never have too many DBs, either, and Stoops found a way to go into Georgia and land the Peach State's top corner in the form of four-star Yusef Corker. 

WATCH: Lynn Bowden in action... 

2. Sunshine Day

Last year's UK coaching staff shake-up resulted in the addition of three new assistants who had strong ties to talent-rich Florida, which had not been a major focus in recent years. Eddie Gran, Darin Hinshaw and Lamar Thomas have made an immediate impact, and their work in the Sunshine State will be a huge part of the Cats' success on NSD. Currently, one-third of UK's class (8 of 24) comes from Florida. The group includes three of the most promising defensive end prospects in the country (Jordan Wright, Chris Whittaker and Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald), two top cornerback prospects (Cedric Dort and Michael Nesbitt), two top receivers (Clevan Thomas and Joshua Ali) and rising O-Line prospect Sebastien Dolcine. The schools that UK beat out for this batch of talent was a Who's Who of College Football -- Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma and Tennessee, to name a few. The Cats now have strong recruiting presence in two of the best football talent-producing states in the country, Ohio and Florida. Look for it to pay major dividends in the years to come as UK seeks to take the next step to SEC contention under Stoops. 

WATCH: Jordan Wright in action...

3. The Ones That Got Away

Barring a late change of heart, the Cats will miss out on Lexington (Ky.) Lafayette All-American Jedrick Wills, a massive offensive lineman who picked Alabama over his hometown school earlier this fall. Kentucky continued to give Nick Saban a battle until the very end -- even drawing a surprise official visit from Wills this past weekend -- but it sounds like the Generals' star is all but a lock to sign with the Crimson Tide on Wednesday. Two former UK commitments -- quarterback Mac Jones and defensive back Russ Yeast, the son of former UK star Craig Yeast -- appear to be set to sign with Alabama and Louisville, respectively. Thayer Munford, a four-star offensive lineman from Ohio, is expected to sign with the home state Buckeyes after receiving a late scholarship offer last week. Those players may have elevated UK to its best signing day in school history had they all landed with the Cats. 

4. Where Do They Rank?

As of Tuesday morning, Kentucky had 24 verbal commitments and ranked 33rd nationally by Scout after spending most of the winter hovering around the Top 25. Many other schools have picked up 11th-hour additions that have vaulted them ahead of the Cats, but it's still a group that is widely considered a continuation of the strong recruiting that Stoops has brought to Lexington since he arrived in 2013. It's still an uphill battle in the SEC, however, as the UK class ranks 11th in the league. A late four-star addition and possible upgrade of the latest commitment -- unranked Florida defensive end Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald -- could help that standing. 


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