Varsity Preps

Yahtzee! Kentucky’s 2014 Recruiting Class Part II

Before the Kentucky Football Program was taken over by Head Coach Mark Stoops, UK fans did not have much to cheer for. Recruiting was abysmal, wins were hard to come by, and the overall talent level of the Football team was laughable. UK quickly became the laughing stock of the SEC when Joker Phillips took over, mostly due to the 2-10 record in Phillips’ 2nd and final season as Head Coach. AD Mitch Barnhart had to make a change, and it had to be one that would save the Football Program overall. Barnhart made the move to bring the DC of the Florida State Seminoles, Mark Stoops, to the bluegrass. With only months to finalize a 2013 Recruiting Class, Stoops did the impossible, signing a class just outside the Top 25. With names such as 4 Star WR Ryan Timmons, 4 Star DE Jason Hatcher, and 4 Star HB Jojo Kemp, Stoops and his staff changed the mindset of UK fans of what was to come, and gave them a bit of hope for the future. Little did they know, things were just getting started for Stoops and company.

The 2013 season is just about 25 days away from kickoff for the Kentucky Wildcats, as they will face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in Nashville, Tennessee on August 31st. Although there is a lot of hype surrounding UK Football this season, the hype is mostly surrounding the 2014-2015 season, and the future seasons past that. Stoops has already been hitting the ground running on the 2014 Recruiting Class, carrying the #3 Ranked Class already, when National Signing Day is still 7 months away. This class is remarkable, with headlining names such as 4 Star QB Drew Barker, 4 Star DE Denzel Ware, 4 Star RB Stanley “Boom” Williams, and 4 Star Safety Darius West. Those 4 names are just scratching the surface on how talented this class is already shaping out to be, and giving Kentucky fans a better prediction of what is to come with UK Football. I have gone in depth about every recruit currently committed to Kentucky, and those that could also be committing in the future. Here is what I have come up with, one by one, for every recruit suiting up in the Blue and White in the future.

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6. Thaddeus Snodgrass

4 Star Wide Receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass committed to the University of Kentucky over big name schools like Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, South Carolina, and Michigan State. Snodgrass is listed as the 29th best WR in the country, and is considered the 205th best player overall in the country according to Rivals.com. Thaddeus was one of the early commitments, committing on April 12, and it definitely made an impact on the recruiting trail. Kentucky has little depth at Wide Receiver, and a player of Snodgrass’ caliber was a necessity for Coach Mark Stoops and his staff to compete in the SEC.

Snodgrass, a 4 Star recruit by most recruiting services, brings to the table something that Kentucky Football has not had in quite some time- the perfect combination of size and speed. Thaddeus is one of the quickest UK commitments thus far, having a 40 Yard Dash time of 4.4 seconds. While a 6-1, 190 pound frame is not out of the ordinary for an SEC Wide Receiver, it definitely allows for Thaddeus to grab throws over receivers with his long reach.

Snodgrass joins T.V. Williams and Garrett Johnson (who we will be going in depth on later) as the 2014 Kentucky Wide Receiver commitments that will be ready to come in and contribute immediately. Ryan Timmons, Alexander Montgomery, Jeff Badet, Javess Blue, Thaddeus Snodgrass, T.V. Williams, and Garrett Johnson look to be the new faces of the WR corp for the Kentucky Wildcats.

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7. Darryl Long

3 Star Tight End Darryl Long out of Ohio was one of the first commitments to UK. With big offers including Louisville, Missouri, Pittsburgh, and Purdue, chose Kentucky due to his close relationship with the staff. Tight Ends’ Coach Vince Marrow was Darryl’s lead recruiter (shocker, I know). Darryl joins the list of 9 total Ohio commitments for the Wildcats, including Thaddeus Snodgrass, Mike Edwards, Tymere Dubose, Jarrett Larubbio, Mikel Horton, Nick Richardson, Darius West, and Dorian Hendrix.

Darryl is known for his size and athleticism for a Tight End. With Long’s huge 6-5, 235 pound frame, he is able to be a dominant pass and run blocker, and uses his strength to create holes on the offensive line. While blocking is a big part to his game, he specializes as a receiving Tight End. Last season, Long caught 25 balls for 430 yards and 4 Touchdowns. He uses his size and speed to his advantage, being able to overpower defenders to gain extra yards, along with being able to catch almost anything thrown to him, as he has great hands and a superb catching radius.

As most of the Tight End corp at UK are upperclassmen, Kentucky is setting themselves up for success in the future at the position by gaining Darryl’s commitment.

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8. Nico Firios

4 Star Linebacker Nico Firios out of Florida joins Dorian Hendrix as the 2 lone MLB commitments. Like Tight End, most of Kentucky’s Linebackers are upperclassmen, so filling up the depth chart for the future is a necessity at the position. By gaining a commitment from Firios, they are doing just that. Firios is a big, strong recruit, standing 6-2, 230 pounds, and uses that to his advantage by destroying opposing Quarterbacks and Running Backs in the backfield, averaging about 10 tackles a game last season. Another aspect that makes Nico’s play so stellar? Speed. Nico consistently runs a 4.5 40 Yard Dash, which is great for a Linebacker. Firios uses his speed to split defenses to get into the backfield to make plays, along with making fast cuts and angles to perform playmaking, and even sometimes, play-saving tackles.

Nico committed to Kentucky over several top schools including Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Wisconsin, Rutgers, and Purdue, but his decision boiled down to Kentucky and Louisville. In an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, Firios had this to say about his commitment to the Cats:

“When I was at Louisville 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. 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. 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. 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.”

Nico Firios fills a need on the depth chart at Linebacker, but most importantly, Kentucky got a big playmaker on defense joining in on the action.

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9. Kobie Walker

3 Star Linebacker Kobie Walker pledged his commitment to the University of Kentucky over schools such as Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, and Miami (FL), among others.

Walker is listed as a 3 Star Safety out of Maryland, but Walker was recruited as an Outside Linebacker by Coach Stoops and the rest of the Kentucky Staff. Walker fits the mold of an athletic OLB, having a large frame with gifted speed, and should be an instant impact under Stoops, who has coached several players to success in the same position at FSU. The transition from Safety to Outside Linebacker at UK should be easy for Walker, as he has the frame to play both. At 6-3, 200 pounds, he has the ability to knock a helmet or two off, as his tackling ability is extremely impressive. Instead of bouncing off contact, he absorbs it, allowing for tremendous hit power with each tackle, making for big “highlight reel” plays in every game.

While his tackling ability is impressive, a big part of Kobie’s play style is his Football IQ. He has the ball instincts to be a superb Outside Linebacker, gaining most of that from playing Safety. His playmaking ability, along with his ball skills really carry over well from the Safety position to the Linebacker position, which is why Mark Stoops sure got a breath of fresh air with Walker’s commitment.

Kobie Walker comes into the program prepared to give Mark Stoops and company that “edge” on defense. He is a hard nosed kid that is willing to put in the dirty work to get the job done under any circumstance. With Stoops’ knack for defensive coaching, look for Kobie to thrive in his system.

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10. Trey “T.V” Williams
3 Star WR T.V. Williams made his commitment to the University of Kentucky over big schools like Nebraska, Iowa, and Texas Tech. Williams gives the Wildcats something they desperately need- WR depth. Despite being a 3 Star recruit, most recruiting analysts consider TV as one of the hidden gems of the 2014 recruiting class, as he has great hands, tremendous speed, body control, and athleticism.

Drew Barker needed a group of talented receivers to help run the Air Raid offense, and Williams is the perfect fit. While the outside receiver spots at UK are filling up with Thaddeus Snodgrass and Garrett Johnson, along with 2013 WR commitments like Alexander Montgomery and Javess Blue, but what was needed was receiver to play the slot position. While 2013 WRs Jeff Badet and Ryan Timmons can play the position if needed there, Williams specializes in it. Williams has unbelievable speed, which makes his presence at slot so vivid. With his ability to shake off defenders on crystal clear cuts, change direction with great precision, and catch just about anything thrown to him, T.V. is the perfect fit for the Air Raid offense.

T.V. Williams gives the Wildcats that quick, speedy receiver that can pick up the necessary yards in the Air Raid offense. If 4 Star WR Braxton Berrios joins in on the commitment train to Kentucky, those two may be the dynamic duo at the slot position the Wildcats have always dreamed for.

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11. Tymere Dubose

Welcome to my gem of the 2014 Class, Tymere Dubose. While many forget about this 6-6, 265 pound monster, the 3 Star DE made his commitment to play for the University of Kentucky over schools such as Michigan State and West Virginia. With schools like Ohio State and Oregon even gaining interest in the unknown big man right before he was set to announce, Ty committed to Mark Stoops and staff without hesitation.

Tymere Dubose is born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, the same area Kentucky Head Coach Mark Stoops and Tight Ends Coach Vince Marrow are from. Vince Marrow’s brother, Brian, is the Head Coach at Youngstown Christian School, where Tymere attends. The connections between Dubose and the Kentucky staff are almost endless, so it was almost a given that Tymere was going to end up at UK. UK is looking for only the top talent to turn the Football program around, so that alone should give comfort to the fans when Stoops and his staff made Dubose a priority in the 2014 class.

Despite offers and major interest from some of the nation’s top schools, Dubose is very new to the game of football. All the way up until last year, he spent his time crushing it on the hardwood playing basketball. Head Football Coach Brian Marrow of Youngstown Christian was in shock of how gifted Tymere was physically, and came forward to him about playing football. He decided to give it a try, and while he may not realize it yet, it may have been the best decision of his life.

In one year of high school football, Dubose transitioned into the game better than I have ever seen in a young athlete. With his huge 6-6, 265 pound frame, he destroyed offensive lines as if they were Pee-Wee athletes, and manhandled opposing Quarterbacks as if they were rag dolls. Even his own coaches kept their jaws on the floor all season long in amazement of their new Defensive End’s talent. Head Coach Brian Marrow contacted his brother Vince about his new star player, and Vince bought in immediately. An offer from the University of Kentucky rolled in after evaluation, Dubose and his family visited for the Spring Game, and the rest was history. Dubose was a Wildcat.

With speed, athleticism, and- most importantly – size, Dubose is exactly what Mark Stoops is looking for in a Defensive End. Being so new to the game, yet so gifted athletically, his potential is through the roof. With the help of HC Mark Stoops, along with the rest of the staff, Dubose has the ability to become one of the top Defensive Ends in the SEC as he adjusts to the game of Football. As his Senior Year gets rolling, be prepared for a huge ratings jump for Dubose as he gains more national publicity. Other schools are going to be kicking themselves for getting to him too late on this one.

As you can tell by his Hudl tape, Tymere Dubose is a star in the making:

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2293298/tymere-dubose

Stay tuned for Part III of IV of the Kentucky 2014 Recruiting Class feature coming in the near future. As always, find the greatest news on recruiting ONLY here at Varsity Preps!

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