5 recruits who can help Kentucky immediately in 2019
With the calendar running out on 2018 and Early Signing Period (Dec. 19-21) fast approaching, it’s time to look ahead not just to bowl games, but to the season to come —and the new recruits who will be part of that season.
Kentucky’s holidays got a little bluer with the loss of in-state athlete Wandale Robinson to Nebraska, but there are still plenty of presents for the Wildcats to unwrap under the recruiting tree. Here are five Kentucky recruits who could significantly help the Wildcats in 2019. Note that all rankings referenced are from 247sports.com.
JaVonte Richardson, WR
Ranking: 3-star (No. 18 JUCO player, No. 2 JUCO WR).
Why he might play: Richardson’s name might sound familiar, because he was part of Kentucky’s 2017 class. A redshirt year and a quick departure from the school led to a 2018 season at Iowa Western Community College and now a second try for Richardson in the Big Blue. He was a 4-star recruit out of high school and is the second-ranked JUCO WR recruit in the nation. Given his size (6-4, 220), he’ll get an early crack at becoming the outside threat Kentucky missed having in 2018.
JJ Weaver, DE
Ranking: 4-star (No. 347 player in the nation, No. 28 at his position, No. 8 in Kentucky).
Why he might play: Given the improvement of Kentucky’s defense in 2018, it might be hard to see the field in 2019 for a young pass rusher. But don’t count out Weaver. The freedom of the revised redshirt rule will allow Mark Stoops and Matt House to give him a few early shots, and if he’s ready, his combination of size (6-6, 240) and skill will make him a possibly contributor from Day 1. He chose the Wildcats over several SEC and ACC schools, including Georgia, Tennessee and Louisville.
Jared Casey, LB
Ranking: 4-star (No. 322 player in nation, No. 20 at his position, No. 7 in Kentucky).
Why he might play: Like Weaver, Casey will have to navigate some quality depth to get onto the field. But the recent Oregon flip might end up much like 2018 true frosh Chris Oats — simply too good to keep off the field.
Casey has the size to play inside (6-3, 220 pounds), but the speed to play outside. As with Weaver, the relaxed redshirt rule will ensure that he gets an early shot to work his way onto the field.
Moses Douglass, S
Ranking: 4-star (No. 364 player in nation, No. 31 at his position, No. 12 in Ohio).
Why he might play: Douglass, whose father Maurice played at Kentucky, was an early commit to the Wildcats, possibly because he saw the UK secondary depth chart. Given the departure of seniors Mike Edwards, Darius West, Derrick Baity, Chris Westry and Lonnie Johnson, there’s certain to be some opportunity for Douglass to play his way onto the field.
At 6-2 and 186 pounds, he seems likely to stick at safety, but Stoops does like big, physical cornerbacks, and the nickel spot isn’t out of the question, either.
He’s the latest talent Stoops has pulled out of Ohio.
Amani Gilmore, QB
Ranking: 3-star (No. 40 pro-style QB, No. 43 player in Louisiana).
Why he might play: Of these five, Gilmore clearly is the biggest reach.
That said, the quarterback position likely will have some turnover. Sophomore Danny Clark has already announced his transfer, and while junior-to-be Gunnar Hoak plans to return, that could change, too. Granted, Terry Wilson looks like the solid incumbent starter, with but Clark gone, Hoak perhaps questionable on returning, and fellow signee Nik Scalzo rehabbing a torn ACL, Gilmore might get more of a shot than people expect.
He’s talented but raw, although another x-factor could be the recruitment of his high school teammate, 4-star athlete Devonta Lee. Lee is considered a heavy LSU lean, but if Gilmore can get his teammate to join him, their years of chemistry could help the passer get a better shot at some backup snaps.