LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky wrapped up its current recruiting class by adding four signees Wednesday, during the annual national signing day.
The Wildcats inked three-star wide receiver Allen Dailey (Pinson, Alabama), offensive tackle Nick Lewis (Jacksonville, Florida), a three-star prospect, four-star linebacker Chris Oats (Cincinnati, Ohio) and Kavosiey Smoke, a three-star running back from Wetumpka, Alabama). Lewis chose the Wildcats over Washington State. Oats was recruited by Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Ohio State, while Dailey spurned Louisville, UAB and Arkansas State. Smoke was sought by several Southeastern Conference programs, including South Carolina, Auburn, Missouri, and Florida.
“I really feel like we hit a home run with the guys we signed today,” Stoops said. “(I’m) excited about this class. With these four guys here, it puts a really solid class together with 24 players in total. That’s a perfect number for us. I felt like we hit the number right on the spot.”
One of those prospects — Oats — has been on Kentucky’s recruiting list for the past two years.
“I recruited Chris (Oats) since he was a freshman,” Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow said. “I think there are times they came in on kids late that are here now, but this was a kid that they’ve targeted since he was a sophomore. Beating them on this kid speaks volumes of what we were able to do. … up until last week everybody thought Chris was going to Ohio State. And, I kind of knew where he was going, just kept it to myself. But, until he signed the paper, I was nervous all the way to last night. It was huge getting him.”
Along with Oats, Stoops added the addition of Smoke was a “big get” for his program.
“There was a lot of competition for him late as well,” Stoops said. “He’s a very good player, both with him and Allen (Daily). I think you all know he’s LiAllen, but he goes by Allen. He and Allen both played at a high level in Alabama, state championship game right there, very close to each other. They are very, very good players.”
Overall, the Wildcats signed 20 players, including junior college transfer Terry Wilson, who is expected to be the team’s starting signal caller next season.
“We signed 13 offensive players, which we needed, nine defensive players and two specialists,” Stoops said. “It really is a complete class. I feel very good about it. It worked out really well.”
Stoops said the addition early signing period paid dividends for his program.
“It’s kind of nice, the early signing period,” Stoops said. “I think it was very good for us. Had a chance to kind of hit the reset button after the December signing period to see exactly what we needed for this February signing day, and hit the spots. That worked out very well for us. … Made for a very busy December, but it made for a better January for us. Overall, I’m very excited about it.”
“I think what we did was great,” he said. “I think us signing and having 20 guys secured really played a factor in me going forward with Chris Oats. When you are trying to get that type of kid, it is a constant that you have to recruit that kid every single day. If we didn’t have the early signing period, we would have probably been battling Ohio State with two more guys that we already have locked in. I really like it. You get most of your class signed and you focus on just four or five guys. I’ll take that anytime. The earlier you can get guys the better.”
The Wildcats didn’t sign any in-state prospects, but Stoops said that could change next year with the Class of 2019.
“It does seem strong,” he said. “(It) Definitely reminds me of the class a few years back when Kash (Daniel) and those guys came out in 2016. But, yeah, there’s some impact players in this class.”
Stoops also lauded the addition of former Indianapolis Colts outside linebackers coach Brad White to his staff. White will coach the outside linebackers, while current assistant coach Dean Hood, will assist Steve Clinkscale in the secondary and continue to guide the Wildcats’ special teams unit.
“(Former Colts) coach (Chuck) Pagano, what he says really matters,” Stoops said. “Rob Chudzinski, their offensive coordinator, and I go way back. As far as what type of person you’re getting, I had no questions there. Then when we bring him in, go through the interview process, he really impressed me quite a bit. I knew halfway through that interview that I wanted to wrap it up and get recruiting him to take the job because he was having some other opportunities. I wanted to lock him up.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.