The Kentucky Wildcats kept their top local target close to home Thursday with Wandale Robinson’s announcement that he will play his college football in Lexington, and it’s a decision that gives UK its biggest star power yet in what is shaping up to be a solid recruiting class.
UK now has 20 commitments for the 2019 class, and — though Robinson is just the second four-star prospect to join that group so far — the Cats’ all-around quality and depth gives them a class that should stay in the conversation for Top 25 status nationally.
Robinson’s commitment Thursday will move Kentucky to the No. 25 overall spot in the Rivals.com rankings, catapulting the Cats past the likes of Florida, Southern Cal, Virginia Tech and Michigan State.
Kentucky’s class is now at No. 31 nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings, and the Cats are still targeting several more class of 2019 prospects with the three-day early signing period set to begin Dec. 19. Those targets include a couple of in-state stars — Moore defensive end JJ Weaver and Louisville Christian wide receiver Milton Wright — two players who are both ranked as four-star recruits by 247Sports.
Robinson — a 5-foot-9, do-it-all offensive star from Western Hills High School in nearby Frankfort — was expected to choose Nebraska coming into this week, but his commitment gives UK even more momentum in the lead-up to the early signing period.
To land Robinson, the Wildcats beat out a list of finalists that included perennial powerhouses such as Ohio State and Alabama, while proving once again that they can keep the state of Kentucky’s biggest stars home for college — more fuel for the recruiting pitch as Mark Stoops, Vince Marrow and the rest of the Wildcats coaching staff continues to pursue others in the Bluegrass.
Robinson is the fourth in-state player to join UK’s 2019 class, along with previous commitments from West Jessamine offensive lineman Eli Cox, Butler wide receiver Demontae Crumes and Doss defensive end Shawnkel Knight-Goff.
Robinson joins Ohio defensive back Moses Douglass as UK’s second four-star commitment for the 2019 class, and the pair will complement each other well in that group. Robinson has been recruited as a wide receiver but will likely see some action out of the backfield at UK and could factor into the return game. Douglass — the son of former UK star Maurice Douglass — is listed as a safety but has versatility in the defensive backfield, and 247Sports national analyst Steve Wiltfong even told the Herald-Leader this year that he could play some linebacker in college. “He’s a high-IQ kid and has a smoothness to his game,” Wiltfong said in the spring.
Though they have one fewer star next to their names on the recruiting websites, others in UK’s 2019 class have also shown tremendous upside and drawn attention from major programs.
Ohio defensive tackle Cavon Butler and Georgia cornerback Jay Ward — both considered three-star recruits — are ones to watch for possible flips in the future.
Butler is still looking at Ohio State and Michigan State — and he has an official scholarship offer from Alabama — while Ward has picked up offers from Louisiana State, Virginia Tech and others in recent weeks.
Kentucky has nine commitments on the offensive side of the ball, including pledges from two three-star quarterbacks (Amani Gilmore of Louisiana and Nick Scalzo of Florida), a running back from Georgia (Travis Tisdale) that has put up huge numbers this fall, three wide receivers (Crumes, Robinson and Florida’s Demarcus Harris), a tight end from Florida (Nikolas Ognenovic) and two offensive linemen (Cox and Florida’s Jake Pope).
On the defensive front, the Cats have Butler and Ohio’s Isaiah Gibson at defensive tackle, plus versatile junior-college lineman Taures Payne and Knight-Goff at defensive end, and a trio of linebackers from Georgia (KD McDaniel, Tra Wilkins and juco star Marquez Bembry).
Douglass and Ward lead a group of defensive backs that also includes South Carolina cornerback Jalen Geiger and junior-college cornerback Brandin Echols.