Kentucky recruiting targets for the class of 2018

Kentucky is coming off its first winning season since 2009 and another stellar recruiting class, and the UK coaches will be looking to transfer that success to landing another top-notch group in the 2018 recruiting cycle.

Below is a list of the Cats’ top targets in this cycle, with basic bio information, star rankings and links to each player’s Rivals.com and 247Sports recruiting profiles.

Players in bold have already committed to Kentucky, and the chart includes notes on each position group. (Last updated Sept. 17).

Quarterbacks
Player Ht Wt Hometown Rivals Scout ESPN 247 Rivals page 247 page
Jarren Williams 6-2 205 Lawrenceville, Ga. **** **** **** **** Click here Click here

Notes: Jarren Williams decommitted from UK this spring, but he re-committed to the Cats three weeks later and is expected to be the program’s only quarterback in the class of 2018. UK is projected to return scholarship QBs Drew Barker, Gunnar Hoak, Luke Wright, Danny Clark and Walker Wood following the 2017 season.

Running backs
Player Ht Wt Hometown Rivals Scout ESPN 247 Rivals page 247 page
Chris Rodriguez 6-0 200 McDonough, Ga. *** *** Click here Click here
Kristian Pechac 6-0 205 Bloomington, Ind. *** **** *** *** Click here Click here
Shaun Shivers 5-7 170 Hollywood, Fla. **** *** **** *** Click here Click here

Notes: Rodriguez committed to Kentucky in late July, and there’s a good possibility that he could end up as the only running back the Wildcats take in the 2018 class. (Unranked running back Tyler Markray has committed as a preferred walk-on). The Cats went into the 2017 season with four scholarship players at the position — junior Sihiem King, sophomore Benny Snell and freshmen AJ Rose and Bryant Koback — and all of those players should be back in Lexington for the 2018 season. The star of the 2017 class — Lynn Bowden — will also play some out of the backfield for Kentucky.

Wide receivers
Player Ht Wt Hometown Rivals Scout ESPN 247 Rivals page 247 page
Marvin Alexander 6-3 175 Hollywood, Fla. *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Akeem Hayes 5-10 175 Hollywood, Fla. *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
DaShon Bussell 6-2 185 Knoxville, Tenn. *** **** *** Click here Click here
Alonzo Clark 6-4 175 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. *** *** *** Click here Click here
Meechi Harris 6-2 190 Xenia, Ohio *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Shocky Jacques-Louis 6-1 175 Fort Myers, Fla. *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Kory Taylor 6-5 200 Hilliard, Ohio *** *** *** Click here Click here
Dominick Watt 6-1 200 Hollywood, Fla. **** *** *** *** Click here Click here

Notes: UK signed five wide receivers in the class of 2017, and Wildcats co-offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw told the Herald-Leader on national signing day that the program would have to sign another big group in the 2018 cycle. UK will lose seniors Blake Bone, Garrett Johnson and Charles Walker after the 2017 season. Other than Dorian Baker, who will return from injury for one last season in 2018, the only scholarship upperclassmen at the position going into next fall are expected to be Kayaune Ross and Tavin Richardson. Hinshaw also told the Herald-Leader that UK “may have to get some juco players” at wide receiver during the 2018 cycle to add more veterans to the Wildcats’ corps. (UK also has a commitment from two-star wide receiver Manny Harper, a preferred walk-on from Louisville).

Tight ends
Player Ht Wt Hometown Rivals Scout ESPN 247 Rivals page 247 page
Brenden Bates 6-5 220 Cincinnati, Ohio **** *** *** **** Click here Click here
Keaton Upshaw 6-7 225 Lima, Ohio *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Leonard Taylor 6-5 240 Springfield, Ohio **** *** **** **** Click here Click here

Notes: Kentucky will take two tight ends in the 2018 cycle, and Bates and Upshaw are solid to the Cats. Greg Hart has just one more season of eligibility and will be gone by the time the 2018 signees get to town. UK starter CJ Conrad will be a senior in 2018, and Justin Rigg, who redshirted last season, is the only other scholarship tight end on the roster. Taylor is being recruited as an “athlete” that could play tight end or defensive line. He is one of UK’s top remaining targets.

Offensive linemen
Player Ht Wt Hometown Rivals Scout ESPN 247 Rivals page 247 page
Darian Kinnard 6-7 335 Cleveland, Ohio *** **** **** **** Click here Click here
Marquan McCall 6-4 320 Oak Park, Mich. **** **** **** **** Click here Click here
Quintin Wilson 6-3 290 Cincinnati, Ohio *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Damien Lewis 6-3 320 Northwest Mississippi CC *** ** Click here Click here

Notes: Kentucky has done a great job of staggering their O-line numbers by class. Going into the 2018 season, UK’s position group is projected to look like this: Seniors (George Asafo-Adjei, Bunchy Stallings), juniors (Logan Stenberg, Mason Wolfe, Landon Young), sophomores (Luke Fortner, Drake Jackson, Naasir Watkins) and redshirt freshmen (Sebastien Dolcine, Austin Dotson).

Defensive linemen
Player Ht Wt Hometown Rivals Scout ESPN 247 Rivals page 247 page
Tyler Bentley 6-3 285 West Chester, Ohio *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Davoan Hawkins 6-4 250 Hollywood, Fla. *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Alex Reigelsperger 6-5 235 Huber Heights, Ohio *** *** **** *** Click here Click here
Kevan Bowen 6-4 305 Olney, Md. ** Click here Click here
Parker Devine 6-4 225 Jacksonville, Fla. *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Allen Love 6-3 285 Birmingham, Ala. *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Jordan Redmond 6-2 290 Kissimmee, Fla. *** *** *** Click here Click here

Notes: Kentucky signed a talented group of defensive linemen in the 2017 class, and the Cats will be filling more spots in that unit during the 2018 cycle. Matt Elam and Naquez Pringle are seniors this fall, so look for UK to land at least a couple of interior D-linemen for 2018.

Linebackers
Player Ht Wt Hometown Rivals Scout ESPN 247 Rivals page 247 page
DeAndre Square 6-1 205 Detroit, Mich. *** **** *** *** Click here Click here
Xavier Peters 6-4 220 West Chester, Ohio *** **** **** **** Click here Click here
Chris Oats 6-4 215 Cincinnati, Ohio **** **** **** **** Click here Click here

Notes: UK’s projected roster for 2018 will have three senior linebackers — Josh Allen, Jordan Bonner and Jordan Jones — and a whole lot of underclassmen. Look for the Cats to take several linebackers in this 2018 class.

Defensive backs
Player Ht Wt Hometown Rivals Scout ESPN 247 Rivals page 247 page
Jamari Brown 6-3 180 Pompano Beach, Fla. *** *** *** Click here Click here
Stanley Garner 6-3 180 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. **** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Dom Williams 5-11 185 Knoxville, Tenn. *** *** *** Click here Click here
Jairus Brents 5-10 180 Louisville, Ky. **** **** **** **** Click here Click here
Miguel Edwards 6-0 165 Deerfield Beach, Fla. **** *** **** *** Click here Click here
Ashtan Pierre 6-2 195 Deerfield Beach, Fla. *** *** *** Click here Click here
Rachad Wildgoose 5-11 190 Miami, Fla. *** *** *** *** Click here Click here
Joe Wilkins Jr. 6-2 180 North Fort Myers, Fla. *** *** *** Click here Click here
Jeremiah Wood 6-1 195 Pickerington, Ohio *** *** *** Click here Click here

Notes: Derrick Baity, Chris Westry, Mike Edwards, Darius West and Lonnie Johnson are all on pace to be seniors in 2018, but UK has a lot of talent behind those players. The secondary is one of UK’s strongest units moving forward, but teams can always use more bodies in the defensive backfield.

Special teams
Player Ht Wt Hometown Rivals Scout ESPN 247 Rivals page 247 page
Chance Poore 6-3 200 Anderson, S.C. *** *** ** Click here Click here

Notes: Poore is expected to overtake kicking duties from Austin MacGinnis, who is a senior this fall.

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