Kentucky football commitments for class of 2018

Here’s a closer look at the players who have already committed to Coach Mark Stoops the Wildcats for the class of 2018:

MARVIN ALEXANDER
6-3 | 175 pounds | Wide receiver | Hollywood, Fla.
Alexander was a teammate of 2017 early enrollee Clevan Thomas before transferring to Chaminade-Madonna, where he’ll be a teammate of fellow 2018 commitment Davoan Hawkins this coming season. Alexander was a bit of an under-the-radar recruit before transferring schools, and Kentucky was one of the first major programs to show serious interest. He has good size for the wide receiver position and should continue to blossom during his one season at Chaminade-Madonna. Alexander has said that he will continue to visit other schools while committed to Kentucky.
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Commitment date: Feb. 21, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

BRENDEN BATES
6-5 | 220 pounds | Tight end | Cincinnati, Ohio
Bates is one of the top 10 tight ends in the class of 2018, and he’s one of the top 10 overall prospects from the state of Ohio. The big passing target from Cincinnati has been behind some older players on the depth chart the past two seasons — including Michigan State signee Matt Dotson last year and Ohio State’s Jake Hausmann in 2015 — but he should be ready for the spotlight this fall. “He looks like the natural at that tight end position,” said Rivals.com recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt. “And part of that is playing behind a Jake Hausmann and a Matt Dotson, and watching those guys develop and knowing what it takes to be an elite tight end. I think that’s certainly helped him stay ahead of the curve from a skill standpoint.”
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Commitment date: March 10, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

TYLER BENTLEY
6-3 | 295 pounds | Defensive tackle | West Chester, Ohio
More than two dozen college programs extended scholarship offers to Bentley before he committed to Kentucky in June, picking the Wildcats after building an early relationship with Ohio recruiter Vince Marrow and the rest of the coaching staff. Florida and Michigan State were among the schools that pursued Bentley in the weeks before his UK commitment, and others such as Alabama, LSU and Wisconsin were linked to him at various points in his recruitment. Bentley comes from the same Ohio high school that produced current UK players George Asafo-Adjei, Kyle Meadows and Kayaune Ross.
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Commitment date: June 11, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

JAMARI BROWN
6-3 | 180 pounds | Cornerback | Pompano Beach, Fla.
Brown is another tall addition to UK’s defensive backfield of the future, picking the Wildcats over fellow finalists Auburn and Temple. He impressed UK’s coaches at a camp performance during the summer and should bring some edge to the cornerback position in the coming years. “What jumps out about him is he plays mean,” Rivals.com analyst Rob Cassidy told the Herald-Leader. “He doesn’t mind mixing it up. He doesn’t mind getting violent. That’s what’s stood out in games anyway.” Brown was considered a top-75 cornerback nationally at the time of his commitment, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
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Commitment date: Aug. 17, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

STANLEY GARNER
6-3 | 180 pounds | Cornerback | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Garner is another big, talented cornerback from Florida in the mold of current UK starters Derrick Baity and Chris Westry. Considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com, Garner is also ranked among the top 50 cornerbacks in the class nationally, and Rivals had him at No. 31 at that position at the time of his commitment. He picked UK over fellow finalists Alabama, Clemson, Louisville and Michigan, and he had reported scholarship offers from all four of those schools. Garner is capable of playing anywhere in the defensive backfield, but his size and mobility make him a high-upside player at the corner position. “He’s huge. The first thing you notice about him is his length,” Rivals.com analyst Rob Cassidy told the Herald-Leader. “It’s impressive that he still can play corner. … He’s every bit of 6-3, if not 6-4, and he almost looks longer than that because of his long arms. But he still moves like a corner and covers well.”
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Commitment date: Aug. 16, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

DAVOAN HAWKINS
6-4 | 250 pounds | Defensive end | Hollywood, Fla.
Hawkins was a major early pickup for the Wildcats, who beat out early offers from Louisville, Wisconsin, West Virginia, N.C. State and others to land his commitment. The high-upside lineman actually played primarily on the offensive side of the ball during his junior season, but he projects as a D-lineman at Kentucky. He has great size and tenacity for the position and should be able to add considerable muscle to his frame. 247Sports ranked him as one of the top 40 strongside defensive ends in the class at the time of his commitment to Kentucky. He earned a scholarship offer from local power Miami in July.
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Commitment date: Feb. 21, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

AKEEM HAYES
5-10 | 175 pounds | Wide receiver | Hollywood, Fla.
Hayes flipped his commitment from Louisville to Kentucky in June — less than two months after originally committing to the Cardinals — providing a little offseason spice to the in-state rivalry. The speedster from Florida is often classified as an “athlete” and can play receiver or defensive back, though he’s currently projected as a slot receiver at Kentucky. Hayes had 35 catches for 750 yards and six touchdowns as a junior.
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Commitment date: June 20, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

DARIAN KINNARD
6-7 | 335 pounds | Offensive tackle | Cleveland, Ohio
Kinnard is a big, talented offensive lineman from Ohio and one of the UK coaching staff’s best acquisitions out of that state so far. 247Sports ranked him as one of the top 20 offensive tackles in the 2018 class at the time of his commitment, and one of the top 10 seniors from the state of Ohio. He also had scholarship offers from Penn State, Maryland, UCLA, West Virginia, and he was the first offensive lineman to join UK’s 2018 recruiting class. Kinnard should be another solid addition to a unit that has established itself as one of the best in the Southeastern Conference.
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Commitment date: April 30, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

MARQUAN McCALL
6-3 | 280 pounds | OL/DL | Oak Park, Mich.
McCall is a major addition for the Wildcats, who landed his commitment over scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State and Tennessee, among others. Rivals.com and 247Sports both listed him as a Top 100 national recruit in the 2018 class at the time of his commitment. Both of those services also listed him as the No. 3 offensive guard in the country, though UK is eyeing him as a possible defensive tackle at the college level. Whatever position McCall plays for Kentucky, he’s a high-upside player who could make a major impact once he gets to Lexington. Oregon extended a scholarship offer less than 24 hours after his commitment to UK, and the Cats will likely have to fight off interest from other major programs between now and signing day.
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Commitment date: May 8, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

XAVIER PETERS
6-4 | 225 pounds | Outside linebacker | West Chester, Ohio
Peters announced his commitment to Kentucky on July 4 and would be one of the Wildcats’ biggest gets of the Mark Stoops era if he does indeed sign with UK at the end of this recruiting cycle. Shortly after his commitment, Peters deleted the original tweet announcing it and scrubbed the mention of UK from Twitter profile. That said, UK’s coaches still consider him as part of their 2018 recruiting class, and all of the major recruiting services are still listing him as a UK commitment. 247Sports considered him to be the No. 8 outside linebacker in the class at the time of his commitment. “The thing that really jumps out to me is how sudden he is, how explosive and twitchy he is. The way he gets to the football with violence,” 247Sports analyst Barton Simmons told the Herald-Leader. “In that sense, I think he’s a really good between-the-tackles, downhill linebacker. And he probably has the potential to put his hand down and be an outside, edge guy if linebacker doesn’t work out. I think you’ve got a couple of bullets you can fire with him, with regard to position.”
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Commitment date: July 4, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

CHANCE POORE
6-3 | 200 pounds | Kicker | Anderson, S.C.
Kentucky will need a replacement for senior kicker Austin MacGinniss following the 2017 season, and the Cats think they have their man in Poore, who was also considering home-state South Carolina before getting the offer from UK and committing in June. Poore was 6-for-12 on field goals with a long of 48, made 42 of 44 extra-point attempts and had 63 percent of his kickoffs go for touchbacks as a junior. He also punts for his high school team. He was expected to land several other high-profile scholarship offers, but he went ahead and committed to UK early in the process.
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Commitment date: June 6, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

CHRIS RODRIGUEZ
6-0 | 200 pounds | Running back | McDonough, Ga.
Rodriguez committed to Kentucky on the first day of the Wildcats’ fall training camp, marking another recruiting victory in Georgia, a state that UK is attempting to establish more of a presence in moving forward. Rodriguez is known as a power back who can run through contact and should give the Cats another bruising presence in the backfield. Ole Miss and Mississippi State were his other big scholarship offers before he committed to UK, which extended an offer at the beginning of the summer. He was the first running back from the 2018 class to commit to the Cats and will add more depth at the position.
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Commitment date: July 30, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

DeANDRE SQUARE
6-1 | 200 pounds | Outside linebacker | Detroit, Mich.
Ranked by Scout.com as a four-star prospect at the time of his UK commitment, Square was recruited by Kentucky assistant Steve Clinkscale and is another talented addition from Michigan as the Wildcats look to make a bigger impact in that state. All of the major recruiting services consider Square to be one of the top 50 outside linebackers in the class — Scout has him at No. 20 nationally — and most of the Big Ten had extended scholarship offers before his commitment to UK.
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Commitment date: June 16, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

KEATON UPSHAW
6-7 | 225 pounds | Tight end | Lima, Ohio
Upshaw joined fellow Ohio native Brenden Bates as the Wildcats’ second tight end in the 2018 class when he committed to Kentucky in July. Early in his high school career, Upshaw was projected as more of a basketball prospect than a football recruit, but his skills on the field have continued to blossom and UK is getting a high-upside player with a lot of size and athleticism at the tight end position. He’s proven himself to be a quality pass-catcher during his relatively short football career so far, and he’ll be an interesting prospect for the Wildcats when he gets to campus. Louisville, Pittsburgh and West Virginia were among the other major schools that offered Upsahw, who was ranked by Scout.com as the No. 25 tight end nationally at the time of his commitment to Kentucky.
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Commitment date: July 1, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

DOM WILLIAMS
5-11 | 185 pounds | Cornerback | Knoxville, Tenn.
Williams was the first defensive back to join UK’s class of 2018, and he’ll bring some early experience to the Wildcats. A standout at Highland Community College in Kansas, the Tennessee native will have three years to play two seasons when he gets to Kentucky. Dean Hood was his primary recruiter for the Wildcats, and Williams was actually committed to Hood — then the head coach at Eastern Kentucky — coming out of high school. Colorado State and Iowa State were among the other schools that extended scholarship offers before Williams committed to Kentucky.
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Commitment date: June 15, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

QUINTIN WILSON
6-3 | 290 pounds | Offensive lineman | Cincinnati, Ohio
Wilson committed to Kentucky — on Mother’s Day — over scholarship offers from Boston College, Duke, Minnesota, Virginia and several other schools. At the time of his commitment, he was ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 5 center nationally in the class of 2018, and he projects as an interior lineman at UK, which was expected to prioritize that spot in this recruiting class.
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Commitment date: May 14, 2017
Player pages: Rivals.com | Scout.com | ESPN.com | 247Sports

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