The UK football program’s seemingly set recruiting class of 2014 could be in for a little last-minute shakeup.
Seneca High defensive lineman Lloyd Tubman is scheduled to announce his final college decision Wednesday at 9 a.m., and Kentucky is making a late push to keep the Louisville standout in the state. Tubman — a 6-foot-3, 230-pound prospect — is currently committed to Penn State, but he’s also considering UK, Louisville and Nebraska in the hours leading up to national signing day.
Seneca Coach LaVell Boyd said Monday that he would be “very surprised” if Tubman ended up signing with a school other than Penn State on Wednesday, but he acknowledged that the recruitment isn’t over yet.
“I don’t think anything has changed his mind. I think he’s still solid to Penn State,” Boyd told the Herald-Leader. “But I think anytime you’re a young kid, you want to make sure you take a good look at every option.”
Tubman was scheduled to take an official visit to Nebraska last weekend, but he cancelled that trip and stayed home. He has never visited Lincoln, which probably makes the Cornhuskers the least likely landing spot.
Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino got an early commitment from Tubman when he was at Western Kentucky, and Petrino re-established contact with the star prospect a couple of days after taking over the Cardinals program. Boyd said Tubman has been on U of L’s campus “pretty often” over the past two or three years and is familiar with the football program there.
UK and Penn State are the only two schools on his final list that got official visits during the recruitment. Tubman committed to Vanderbilt after backing out of his early pledge to Western Kentucky. When Coach James Franklin left Nashville for the top job at Penn State last month, Tubman switched his commitment to the Nittany Lions.
He took his official visit to Happy Valley on Jan. 24 and seemed solid in his commitment after that trip. But the coaches at Kentucky have been relentless in their pursuit of another in-state star.
Boyd said that several UK coaches have been to town recently to recruit Tubman.
“It’s been a little bit of everybody,” he said. “They’ve made a great effort in showing their interest in him. They’re bringing in coaches who have a proven pedigree, which is big any time you’re recruiting a kid.”
The Cats currently have commitments from 28 players, which is the number that Coach Mark Stoops has vowed to sign in this class. If Tubman were to join that group, another player would be left out of the mix. There have been recent rumblings that junior college defensive back Michael Mathis might not be ready to sign with the school on Wednesday.
UK’s class already includes three of the state’s top five players, according to the Rivals.com rankings: Quarterback Drew Barker and defensive linemen Adrian Middleton and Matt Elam.
Adding Tubman — the No. 3 player in the state — to that list would give the Cats an unprecedented in-state haul for 2014. No school has signed four of Kentucky’s top five prospects in one class since Rivals started doing in-state player rankings in 2003.
Boyd said he has been impressed with what Stoops and his coaching staff have been able to accomplish on the recruiting trail in their short time at UK.
“I’m a Louisville guy and I’ve always been a Louisville guy,” he said. “I’m looking from the outside in and you just see what they’re doing recruiting-wise. They’re changing the culture. They’re changing the way they do things. They’re going after big-name guys, and they’re getting them. That’s very attractive to any young person.”