Varsity Preps

4 Star Linebacker Nico Firios Commits to Kentucky

4 Star Linebacker Nico Firios has officially pledged his commitment to the University of Kentucky. According to ESPN, Firios is the 18th best Inside Linebacker in the Country, earning him an 80 Overall Ranking, making him a 4 star prospect. Nico is known for his tackling ability, and his superb instincts as a defender. Listed at 6’2″ 225lb, Firios has the size of a stereotypical SEC Linebacker, and under Head Coach Mark Stoops, will strive in the UK System.

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The Orlando Sentinel caught up with Nico after his commitment. Here is the interview:

“Kentucky and Louisville were really the final two for me,” Firios said. “When I was at Louisville last week it was great and I like everything about Coach Charlie Strong and what they are doing there, especially with the defense, but then I went to Lexington and visited UK and I was so impressed. That just made me feel like it was the place I needed to be.”

Firios, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound inside backer at Lyman, broke the news to the UK staff just before noon today and he said the coaches were “ecstatic.”

“They were screaming and passing the phone around and Coach [Mark] Stoops was saying he was so excited to have someone with my character and ability joining the team,” Firios said. “He said with my commitment that would probably  put them in the top five recruiting classes in the nation for 2014.”

His main recruiter at Kentucky has been runing backs coach Chad Scott, who followed offensive coordinator Neal Brown to UK from Texas Tech. Stoops is in his first year as head coach, having moved over from Florida State.

“A lot of the coaching staff just came from FSU and they just turned the defense around there, so they have a track record of turning defenses around,” said Firios, who averaged about 10 tackles a game last year as a junior. “They also just really showed me how much they wanted me and made me feel right at home. I could  just tell they have good intentions and are just good people. Not that Louisville didn’t have that, but I just felt comfortable at UK.

“Everyone on campus was so nice and I guess it was just that southern charm and southern hospitality. They were all just the nicest people I have ever met in my life. It just made me feel like that is where I am supposed to be.”

Firios, ranked No. 7 in the Sentinel’s 2014 Central Florida Super60, teams up with bookend counterpart Greg Gooch at Lyman, and both took their visits together last week.”

“We would like to play together but we’ve never been advertised as a package deal,” Firios said of Gooch. “Wherever he ends up I’ll be happy for him and support him. We’re brothers and I love him to death and he loves me and we will stay in contact no matter what.”

He’s glad to have the process completed.

“Honestly it feels great, like a huge burden has been lifted off of me and I really can’t even explain it,” he said. “I’m just so happy to have this done with and I really just want to focus on my senior season and have fun and not have to worry about the constant recruiting stuff and reporters calling. It can be a real hassle. I had fun with a lot of it though, but now I’m just looking forward to my senior year at Lyman.”

To have won another recruiting battle over the University of Louisville for UK is an accomplishment itself, as UofL is known for winning the recruiting duels between the schools. However, this was before UK secured Mark Stoops to run the football program. As of late, UK has won virtually every recruiting battle that ended up being down to UK and UofL. The only real battle UK has lost under Stoops to Louisville was another Florida recruit in the 2013 Recruiting Class, Keith Kelsey Jr., who is known for his decision day antics, who first put on a Kentucky hat, only to throw it on the floor and say “Sike, I’m a Louisville Cardinal, baby! Go Cards!” Although that decision stung in the hearts for UK fans for a short period of time, Stoops has more than compensated for the loss of Kelsey by pulling in several other big time commits that chose Kentucky over the Cardinals of Louisville.

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Firios’ commitment solidifies great depth in the Linebacker corp, as UK has also pulled in a commitment from highly ranked 3 Star Linebacker, Dorian Hendrix. Hendrix and Firios in Stoops’ Defensive System, in addition to the veteran Linebackers already on the Kentucky roster, should make UK fans happy for quite some time.

UK is now up to 15 commitments in the Class of 2014, which mostly consists of highly ranked Defensive recruits. Stoops and staff have made the Kentucky Defense their main priority, and it is starting to show as UK now has the #4 Ranked Recruiting Class in the Country.

As you can see, Stoops’ recruiting success is starting to show more than anyone ever expected when he was originally hired in November. He has yet to coach a football game at Kentucky, but he is already taking the College Football world by storm. We’ll see soon if his recruiting success translates to on-field success, and if he can make that happen, UK may have a powerhouse in both Football and Basketball.

We will keep you updated as the remaining recruits for the Class of 2014 fill in only here at Varsity Preps! Stay tuned for a large update coming soon!

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