By KEITH TAYLOR, Kentucky Today
LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Kentucky wrapped up its recruiting class with the addition of one signee during the traditionally signing period Wednesday.
The Wildcats inked four-star defensive back MJ Devonshire Wednesday during the traditional signing period Wednesday. Kentucky inked 21 signees during the early signing period in December. Devonshire is a 6-foot cornerback from Pittsburgh. Devonshire also is known as a standout basketball player.
“He’s a really good player,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “He has great size and great speed. He’s a very versatile player, he’s played offense and he’s played defense. We needed him. We needed to add another athlete to the class.”
The addition of Devonshire puts Kentucky near the mark of 85 scholarship players. Kentucky will have just nine seniors on the roster next season. He added the Wildcats will need to be “selective” with the targets in the Class of 2020.
“We didn’t really over-sign this year and that’s really critical,” Stoops said. “Next year, we’re going into the year without any attrition, but I do anticipate some attrition. We will have great momentum, but we will have to be very selective.”
Overall, Stoops and the Wildcats signed six defensive backs and will have to replace most of the entire secondary next season. The top returnees include Jordan Griffin, Devonte Robinson, Tyrell Aijan and Yusuf Corker.
“We know what we lost in the secondary,” Stoops said. “I feel confident with the guys we have on campus, but we needed depth and we needed numbers. We needed some athletes. I feel good about the guys we signed.”
Because of the team’s recent success, Stoops has no intention of changing his approach, especially in the off-season in an effort to keep the Wildcats on task.
“Our plan is to continue to do the same things we’ve always done and be as demanding as we always are,” Stoops said. “We always keep guys in check. That’s one of the reasons why we’re pretty thorough in spending a lot of time in our assessments, in our evaluations and sit down with players and explain to them in detail what we expect of them and the things that they’re doing well and the areas that they need to improve. … we’re constantly going to be hard on ourselves and critical and evaluate ourselves and make sure we’re doing things the best way we can. It’s full steam ahead, foot on the gas.”
Stoops said Kentucky’s 10-3 campaign and Citrus Bowl victory was well-received on the recruiting trail and said the program is starting to receive recognition nationally as one of the top programs in the nation.
“I think as you go through the different states and all the places where I’ve been, you can just read between the lines and see the places where we recruit,” Stoops said. “You go out there nationally, and I think people always had a great belief in what we were doing and how we were going about it, but you see it now take it to another level. So it’s been very, very helpful and very appreciative of the positive response that we’ve gotten out there.”
Although a task, Stoops said the plan is to keep moving forward and take the program to another level.
“That’s what we’re trying to do, to take it to another level — nobody goes backward,” he said. “You look at this league, you look at the coaching, you look at the recruiting, and you just take a look around, and it can overwhelm you if you let it, and that’s why we don’t. That’s why we worry about ourselves and what we’re doing in there and how we’re working in our building and attacking each and every day like I mentioned the first day I was on campus, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.