How many spots are available?
Kentucky signed 21 players in the class in December, leaving four open spots if the staff chooses to sign a full 25-man class. Mark Stoops and company could elect to sign less than 25 though in order to leave wiggle room on the 85-man roster to add a transfer at a position of need. There are currently 84 scholarships accounted for the 2019 season, but there almost certainly will be several more departures from the current roster via transfer or dismissal before preseason camp.
What about the other commitments?
Only two of UK’s verbal commitments did not sign with the program in December, and both – wide receiver JaVonte Richardson and defensive tackle Elijah James – hail from Iowa Western Community College. While neither player has announced plans to sign with a different school, their spots in the UK class no longer seem assured as they work to qualify. “As of right now Elijah James and Javonte Richardson are working toward finishing their degree,” Iowa Western coach Scott Strohmeier told the Courier Journal in an email. “It is unclear if they will still have the opportunity at Kentucky. Elijah is scheduled in classes to graduate in May and Javonte has to just improve GPA.”
What positions still need help?
It’s clear Kentucky coaches want to add at least one more defensive back to a roster that must replace its entire starting secondary in 2019. With just two offensive linemen in the December signing class, additional reinforcements might be needed there. The need to add playmakers at the offensive skill positions would be heightened if Richardson does not make it to campus.
Who is left on the board?
With few spots remaining in the 2019 class, Kentucky coaches have cast a relatively small net this month as they already begin to look ahead to 2020. Four-star Louisiana athlete Devonta Lee, who UK is recruiting to play as a wide receiver alongside his high school QB Amani Gilmore, told the Courier Journal in December he “fell in love” with Kentucky on an official visit but is still scheduled to visit home-state LSU the weekend before signing day. Former UK commitment Jay Ward, a four-star Georgia prep cornerback, is still considering UK along with LSU, Texas A&M and Florida State and is scheduled to visit campus on Feb. 1.
Four-star Georgia prep defensive back Jammie Robinson took his official visit to UK in December and is also considering Auburn, Tennessee and South Carolina. UK offered scholarships to four-star Pennsylvania prep cornerback Marlin Devonshire and three-star Northwest Mississippi Community College wide receiver JaVonta Payton this month. UK appears to still be in the running for three-star Ohio prep offensive tackle Jonathan Allen.
With just two weekends left for official visits before signing day, Saturday’s Kentucky-Kansas basketball game represents a marquee opportunity for the football staff to get recruits a chance to experience the power of Big Blue Nation. Expect many top junior targets to be on hand for the game as well, but several of the remaining 2019 targets with official visits available, including Devonshire and Allen, have been reported to be planning to take in the game as well. The basketball team is on the road at Florida next weekend before signing day, so any prospect who visits then will be giving UK coaches the last word before signing day but will not see a game.