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Wildcats sign five from Kentucky

LEXINGTON (KT) — Kentucky kept most of its signees in state during the first day of the early signing period Wednesday.

The Wildcats signed 21 players, including five from Kentucky, with four of those coming from Louisville. Jared Casey (Ballard), J.J. Weaver (Moore), Shawnkel Knight-Goff (Doss) and Butler’s Tae Tae Crumes signed with Kentucky.

It was a stark contrast from last season when the Wildcats failed to sign an in-state prospect. Casey, Weaver and Shawnkel-Goff are linebackers, while Crumes is a wide receiver.

“I think it was very important (to sign the Louisville prospects),” Stoops said. “We’ve been working these guys for some time. They’re very — there’s very good players. You don’t know where the players are going to be in state, as I’ve mentioned every year. I think there’s always good quality in this state. Sometimes there’s not always the quantity. This year, there were certainly a good amount of very good football players.”

The class also includes six linebackers, including Weaver, Casey, Knight-Goff, junior college standout Marquez Embry, K.D. McDaniel and Tra Wilkins. Kentucky recruiting coordinator said the team’s top priority was signing defensive players.

“This probably was the best linebacker class we’ve signed since we’ve been here,” he said. “I know we signed six or seven linebackers, and they’re all interchangeable, but this is a very athletic group and they were very highly recruited. I was very excited about that. Defense, we needed to address in this class because we’re losing a lot of guys on defense and we should be pretty good on offense next year, so defense was a big emphasis this year.”

A former defensive coordinator, Stoops said the linebackers are “versatile guys”

“There’s definitely some versatile guys,” he said. “Some of them, there’s the really — there’s a couple really big ones, big outside backers. There’s the athletic guys. There’s some guys that played inside and outside. So there’s a lot of versatility in this group. When you’re a 3-4 (defensive system) you need some linebackers. So outside backer was the biggest area of need that — with defensive back — coming into this year. So certainly feel good about what we did at those positions.”

Stoops and his staff inked a pair of defensive backs — Quandre Mosely and Tai Dodson to help fill the void in the secondary next season. Mosley is a junior college transfer, while Dodson is a three-star prospect. Both players are from Georgia. Kentucky also signed defensive tackle Cavon Butler, who spurned home state favorite Ohio State and Michigan State to sign with Kentucky.

The Wildcats signed two quarterbacks — Amani Gilmore (Amite, Louisiana) and Nik Scalzo of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“Both of them are winners,” Stoops said. “Both did an unbelievable job leading their team to state championships. And just winners and playmakers, just the things we’re looking for. Obviously, they can throw the ball. They can run it a little bit. They can ad-lib. But they’re also very, very serious about the job. They work extremely hard at studying and have been very productive.”

Travis Tisdale of Valdosta, Georgia, also joined Kentucky’s 2019 recruiting class and was the lone signee at running back.

Stoops said the Wildcats will take the best players available to fill what he hopes is a 25-player recruiting class. Overall, Kentucky signed four players from Florida, six from Georgia, five were from Kentucky, three played in Ohio. Stoops signed one player each from Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina.

A potential sleeper is defensive back Moses Douglass from Springfield, Ohio.

“Not a lot has been said about him,” Stoops said. “He’s such a dynamic player because he’s been so solid to us. Wouldn’t even take another trip. The kid has been offered by practically the entire Power 5. (He) can play just about anywhere in the country and has been recruited by almost all those schools in some form or fashion. He’s just been so solid with us and remarkable family. He is a guy that we should not take for granted because he’s been so solid. He’s a talented football player, very good size on him and again very versatile.”

Although the class is nearly sorted out, Stoops and his staff have four or five more slots to fill during the traditional signing day in February.

“I want to carry some forward into February. I want to have some available,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen, what’s going to shake out. There’s a lot of talk and motion with kids nowadays with transfers and things of that nature, and certainly just the recruiting, the guys that are available still. And we’re on some really good kids that we knew were going to take it into February. We’re still going to continue to battle with those guys as well.”