Mark Stoops and his coaching staff have stayed busy over the past couple of weeks, traveling across the country to visit with UK’s top commitments and next wave of recruits.
Most — maybe all — of UK’s pledges for the Class of 2014 have received a visit since the contact period began Dec. 1. Four-star defensive lineman Denzel Ware has been visited twice.
Defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot made the trip to Florida last week with defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh, and Eliot returned on his own Tuesday.
Ware will return the favor as one of UK’s many official visitors this weekend, and he appreciated the attention from his future coaches.
“We just talked about this weekend. And when I get there and how much they’re going to use me,” Ware told the Herald-Leader on Wednesday. “They tell me I just need to be ready to play as soon as I set foot on campus.”
The 6-foot-1 defensive end says he keeps in constant contact with his fellow commitments, specifically naming Drew Barker, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Mike Edwards, Boom Williams and Mikel Horton. Ware says he also talks to uncommitted lineman Matt Elam “every day” and said he considers the John Hardin standout as “like another brother to me.”
Ware is excited to see all of those guys again this weekend, and he’s already looking ahead to his future in Lexington. Stoops and Eliot have had great success with defensive linemen in the past, including this past season with Za’Darius Smith and Bud Dupree. There’s a chance those two players could make an early jump to the NFL, but Ware is hoping they stick around for their senior seasons.
“It makes me real excited,” he said. “Especially, if those two stay for their senior year. I look up to those guys as mentors. They teach me some stuff that a coach couldn’t teach me. … It’s going to be great playing with those two, if they decide to stay for their senior year.”
If Smith and Dupree do come back, it would almost certainly mean a lesser chance of significant immediate playing time for Ware. He’s OK with that.
“If things don’t work out, I just want to be positive,” he said. “I want to be that player who knows his role. Keep everybody cheered up and be ready to play.”
Ware’s recruitment has been a bit of a roller coaster, leaving some to question how firm his commitment to the Wildcats really is. He originally committed to Florida State, before backing off that pledge and picking UK. He then decommitted again only to re-commit to the Cats a few months later.
He says he still hears from other schools — including a couple of top SEC programs — but made it clear that he’s fully committed to the Wildcats.
“I tell them guys, ‘I’m solid with UK. If you want to offer me a scholarship, it would just be a waste of your time. You have to go give it to someone that might be willing to take the scholarship, because I have my mind set on UK.’”
Note: Bud Dupree tweeted Friday afternoon that he plans to return to UK for his senior season.