The Best Class In School History
As he finishes up his ninth year in Lexington Mark Stoops and his coaching staff have changed pretty much every facet of the program in a positive way. One of the biggest is in recruiting where the days of the Wildcats fighting mid-major schools for one and two star players are over. In fact they are challenging the “big boys” and are winning more than their fair share. Need proof? Look no further than the upcoming 2022 class which ranks 11th is far and away the best in school history. From pulling players where they’ve not recruited before to dominating their home state let’s break it all down with our Kentucky 2002 Early Signing Day Recap.
Reeling In The Big One
Way back on April 17th Kentucky and ace recruiter Vince Marrow secured the commitment of Kiyaunta Goodwin from across the river in Charlestown, Indiana. Over the next eight months the five star player made numerous visits to Alabama, Michigan State, Texas A&M among others. In the end the six foot eight, 340 offensive lineman choices came down to Kentucky and Michigan State. After delaying his announcement a few times on Wednesday Goodwin eventually stayed with the Cats, giving Marrow one of his biggest (literally) victories.
Boom the Big Fish has landed. Go Big Blue.
— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) December 15, 2021
Goodwin ranks as the top player in the Hoosier State and second best offensive tackle in the country. In addition 247 Sports lists him as the 13th best player in the nation. Before even stepping foot on campus he’s projected as a second round pick. With all the success of the “Big Blue Wall” over the last few years it looks like Goodwin will be the next UK lineman playing on Sunday. While some in the Big Blue Nation were worried he wouldn’t sign Goodwin took care of that Thursday afternoon.
— Jason Hawkins (@Talk_With_Hawk) December 16, 2021
As we continue our Kentucky 2022 Early Signing Day Recap let’s look at an untapped area of the country where UK broke through in 2022.
Raiding The Volunteer State
While the Cats lost the battle on the field to Tennessee, they made up for it on the recruiting front. After not little success over the years Kentucky went in and pulled out three of the best players in the state. Barion Brown, a six foot one, 173 pound receiver out of Nashville, chose the Cats over Alabama, Arkansas and Arizona State. Playing both quarterback and receiver Brown ran for 819 yards and 10 touchdowns on only 59 carries. In addition he also hauled in 22 passes for 303 yards and three more scores. If that wasn’t enough he also played defense recording 24 tackles including two for a loss. Brown capped his season by being named the Tennessee Class 4A Player Of The Year.
Very Talented Twins
The other two stars out of Volunteer State are Destin and Keaten Wade. Destin Wade is a four-star athlete who comes in as the 366th best prospect in the nation by 247 Sports and 12th best in the state. At Summit High School in Spring Hill, Tennessee Destin was the starting quarterback. In the recently completed season, Wade rushed for 1,463 yards and 21 touchdowns. In addition, he threw for another 926 yards and 12 more touchdowns. He led his team to 25 straight wins before losing in the Class 6A title game. As a junior, he led the Spartans to the Class 5A state championship.
Keaten Wade is a 6-4 outside linebacker playing who ranks as the 200th best player by 247 Sports. In addition, he’s the fifth-best player in the Volunteer State. In 2020 he was limited by injuries playing in only three games. However, he returned and had a strong season. As a result, he ended up being selected for the All-American Bowl where he’ll play alongside future Cat Goodwin.
Not only did the Cats have great success in Tennessee, they branched out to a place they’ve never been before.
As the Cats continue to have more and more success on the field, their recruiting is stretching out across the country. That’s certainly the case with the 2022 class. In what’s believed to be the first commitment from the “First State” UK landed Tomiwa Durojaiye. The six foot four, 255 pound defensive end is the second best player in the state of Deleware. In addition Durojaiye won Class 3A defensive player following his senior season. Defensive coordinator Brad White was the lead recruiter for him as the Cats beat out Arkansas and South Carolina for his services.
— Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) December 15, 2021
Dominating Their Home Base
As we mentioned at the beginning over the last few years Kentucky has made a commitment to keeping the best players in the state at home. That was no exception with the 2022 class as four of the 20 commitments are from the Bluegrass. Heading that list is Dane Key, the number one player in Kentucky. A four-star wide receiver from Frederick Douglass High School in Lexington Key announced his commitment at the high school on October 28th. He chose the Wildcats over Michigan, Oregon, and South Carolina. Nationally he’s listed as the 39th best receiver in the 2022 class and the 221st best player overall. He’s a legacy recruit for the Cats as his father Donte’ played from 1992-1995. In addition he’s one of two legacy recruits in this class as offensive lineman Nikolas Hall from out of Texas is the son of Antonio Hall.
Not only did the Cats sign Key but they also picked up Grant Bingham, an offensive lineman and third best player in the state from Johnson Central. The other two players are defensive back Elijah Reed and kicker Jackson Smith. The quality of football in Kentucky has never been better so it’s paramount for Kentucky to keep these kids home.
As we wrap up our Kentucky 2022 early signing day recap we look at a few players the Cats picked up late.
Big Time Flips
Ja’Kobi Albert, the number seventeen player in the state of Alabama originally committed to Auburn in August. However the Cats stayed in on his recruitment and we able to flip him on signing day. He’s an athlete who can play either offense or defense at the SEC level. In addition UK was active in the transfer portal picking up Auburn offensive lineman Tashawn Manning. He played in every game in 202o for the Tigers and eight this past season. The Cats’ other portal pick up is Virginia Tech’s Tayvion Robinson. UK already loses Josh Ali after the Citrus Bowl and Wan’Dale Robinson will most assuredly look at the 2022 NFL Draft. Should Liam Coen’s offense lose both the other Robinson can step in from day one.
Again Kentucky’s early signing day is a smashing success, ranking 11th in the nation and fourth in the SEC. Check out the following for some perspective.
On National Signing Day, Kentucky: pic.twitter.com/khRgY3akHH
— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) December 16, 2021
Coming off their sixth straight bowl the future is definitely bright in Lexington. Thanks for checking out our Kentucky 2022 early signing day recap here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back soon with a Citrus Bowl preview.