The recruitment of one of Kentucky’s biggest football targets in the class of 2015 has entered its final month. It’s going to be a busy June for Darius Fullwood.
The four-star defensive end from the Washington, D.C., area recently named his top five schools – UK was on that list – and set an announcement date for June 28.
Between now and then, Fullwood plans to take several more campus visits, some to schools outside of his top five. His third and final recruiting trip to Lexington is scheduled for June 11.
Fullwood last visited UK for the program’s spring game in late April. Wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord – his primary recruiter – spent much of his time before the scrimmage chatting on the field with Fullwood and former high school teammate Kobie Walker, who is part of the Cats’ signing class of 2014.
Rivals.com analyst Adam Friedman told the Herald-Leader that he considers Kentucky to be in Fullwood’s top three, along with Ohio State and Virginia Tech.
“I believe they have a very good shot,” Friedman said of the Wildcats. “I think he recognizes his ability to step in and see the field early in his career there. I know that’s something he’s looked at. It’s definitely on his priority list, and it’s something that can play into Kentucky’s favor.”
Both of UK’s starting defensive ends in 2014 – Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith — will be seniors. By the time Fullwood is a freshman in 2015, the defensive ends on UK’s roster will be Jason Hatcher, Farrington Huguenin, three players from the class of 2014 and whoever else the Cats sign in 2015.
Fullwood’s smarts and skill add up to make a prospect who has the ability to contribute right away at a school like Kentucky.
Friedman described him as a “technician” on the field and a player who has shown an advanced knowledge of the game. His high school – Good Counsel in Olney, Md. – is known as one of the best programs in the region.
“When you see him play, you understand that he goes to this powerhouse program that is known for great coaching and having great players,” Friedman said. “And you put two and two together and you really understand that he knows what he’s doing. And his understanding of what he is doing is well beyond some of the same guys at his age group.
“He is so far along in his knowledge of the game. That stuff is harder to teach than just getting in the weight room and teaching you how to get big. That’s a lot easier for teams to fix. Once Darius is brought up to the Division I-caliber strength, he should have no problem getting plenty of playing time.”
Fullwood – a 6-foot-3, 240-pounder – is considered the No. 18 strongside defensive end in the nation by Rivals.com, making him the highest-rated player at that position to not make the Rivals 250 national rankings.
Ohio State is viewed by many as the favorite in his recruitment, but Fullwood hasn’t confirmed that and Friedman said observers should “hold off” on calling anyone the favorite at this point.
Fullwood clearly has built a great relationship with Buckeyes defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who started recruiting him while he was a coach at Penn State. Georgia Tech and Miami are also in his top five, along with UK and Virginia Tech.
In a few weeks, one of those schools will have a promising pass rusher for the future.
“He knows exactly what he’s doing on every rep and on every down,” Friedman said. “He knows what his responsibilities are, and he knows how to be successful against the guy in front of him. In high school, he’s been able to manhandle guys who are bigger than him, just because he knows how to get around them and he knows what they’re going to do. He knows their tendencies and he knows how to beat them.”