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Signing Day: Stoops Stays In-State to Lay Groundwork

Brendon D. Miller - BSN

LEXINGTON, Ky. – December 16, 2020 – KEITH TAYLOR

Coach Mark Stoops stayed close to home to piece together his latest recruiting class at Kentucky.

The Wildcats added 18 players during the early signing period, including seven in-state players, three each from Ohio and Georgia, two from Alabama, one each from Michigan, and Tennessee. Kentucky also inked a kicker from Australia. 

The big storyline line, however, was Kentucky’s ability to keep in-state talent from going to another program out of state.

“We feel like that was a priority for us coming into it,” he said. “We really worked the state exceptionally hard.”

Stoops praised the high school coaches throughout the commonwealth for elevating the talent level during the past decade.

“Since I’ve been here (at Kentucky), there has been so much growth and (the quality of football) has been getting so much better,” Stoops said. “The coaches are doing an exceptional job and the product on the field is paying off. It’s so much better top to bottom than it was early on. And I think that’s the big storyline with this class.”

Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow agreed.

“It’s going to another level,” he said. “There’s a lot of young talent here.”

Stoops admitted the pandemic made recruiting more difficult but liked the way the coaches adjusted to electronic means of communicating with recruits and eventual signees.

“It was hard for us doing a lot of things virtually and not being able to get on the road, but I feel like our staff worked exceptionally hard keeping in communication with these young men and talking to their families,” Stoops said.

Marrow spent more time on the phone than on the road, an adjustment for Marrow, who carries most of the recruiting load on the road.

“We had to use a lot of zoom and face times with (our) phone,” he said. “I probably face time and our staff or face time more kids than normal people would probably even talk on the phone to you when telemarketing … that was a good technique for us.”

One of the biggest signees of the current class was Frederick Douglas offensive lineman Jager Burton. Burton turned down offers from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oregon. Stoops said Burton is one of the main difference-makers in the class.

“He’s different he’s a different guy,” Stoops said. “He’s a difference-maker. He’s an impact player. He runs and moves as well as any offensive lineman I’ve been around. I know he’s only going to get here and get better, but he has such a strong work ethic. He’s such a great young man, a great family.  … “He’s different (and) he’s a different type of guy. He’s just very humble. He works extremely hard, but he’s unbelievably athletic.”

One of Burton’s classmates — wide receiver Dekel Crowdus — also signed with the Wildcats. Much like Burton, Crowdus was one of the most sought-after recruits in Central Kentucky and turned down Ohio State, Michigan, Oklahoma, Baylor, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

“Those guys are our difference-makers,” Stoops said. “They’ve been a priority of ours since two or three years ago. So, you know, a really good team (and) had a very difficult loss a week ago, but (they) have really built the winning culture (at Frederick Douglas).”

Jordan Dingle, a tight end at Bowling Green High School, will join brother Justice Dingle, who transferred from Georgia Tech. Justice Dingle is an outside linebacker, who also played at Bowling Green High School.

Also included in the instate package was North Hardin standout La’Vell Wright, a running back, and Somerset quarterback Kaiya Sheron, who lead Somerset to the state Class 2A championship last season.

“We watched Kyle throw a throw a winning touchdown at the end and one of the best high school games I’ve ever seen,” Stoops said. “All these kids come from winning programs in a winning culture, and it’s a credit to their coaches and for the rest of the coaches out there in the state.”

Stoops intentionally left room open for more potential transfers and signees.

“We do expect a few more in the next couple of days to add to this class,” he said.


UK signees

• Wilson Berry P 6-4 200 Fr-HS Maribyrnong, Australia (Maribyrnong College)

• Jager Burton* OL 6-4 290 Fr-HS Lexington, Ky. (Frederick Douglass)

• Dekel Crowdus Jr. WR 5-10 170 Fr-HS Lexington, Ky. (Frederick Douglass)

• Jordan Dingle TE 6-4 240 Fr-HS Bowling Green, Ky. (Bowling Green HS)

• Justice Dingle* OLB 6-3 280 Jr-Tr Bowling Green, Ky. (Georgia Tech/Bowling Green High School)

• Jamarius Dinkins DL 6-5 255 Fr-HS Columbus, Ohio (Walnut Ridge)

• Maxwell Hairston* DB 6-1 170 Fr-HS West Bloomfield, Mich. (West Bloomfield)

• Adrian Huey DB 6-0 180 Fr-HS Nashville, Tenn. (Hillsboro)

• Christian Lewis WR 6-4 190 Fr-HS Pleasant Grove, Ala. (Pleasant Grove)

• Jordan Lovett* DB 6-2 195 Fr-HS Radcliff, Ky. (North Hardin)

• Chauncey Magwood* WR 6-0 180 Fr-HS Leesburg, Ga. (Lee County)

• Paul Rodriguez OL 6-5 310 Fr-HS Mason, Ohio (William Mason)

• Devonte Ross WR 6-0 170 Fr-HS Cartersville, Ga. (Cartersville)

• Kahlil Saunders DL 6-5 270 Fr-HS Huntsville, Ala. (Grissom)

• Kaiya Sheron* QB 6-3 200 Fr-HS Somerset, Ky. (Somerset HS)

• Martez Thrower LB 6-2 212 Fr-HS Rochelle, Ga. (Wilcox County)

• David Wohlabaugh* OL 6-5 290 Fr-HS Stow, Ohio (Walsh Jesuit)

• La’Vell Wright* RB 5-11 202 Fr-HS Radcliff, Ky. (North Hardin)

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