By Nick Gray | @KYKernelGray
Thirty-nine days have passed since the fanfare of head coach Mark Stoops’ initial arrival in Lexington and his introductory press conference.
In that time, Stoops has put together the majority of his first staff at UK. The staff, along with Stoops, has stormed the recruiting trail trying to sell the new look program.
Thus far, some success has been found, beginning last month when junior college transfers were allowed to sign letters of intent.
Defensive end Za’Darius Smith (6-5, 252, Scooba, Miss., East Mississippi Junior College), a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, signed with UK in December and is expected to compete for major playing time next season.
Smith’s connections to the program include tutelage from new defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh, who coached Smith at East Mississippi last season.
On Saturday, cornerback Jaleel Hytchye (5-11, 165, Cincinnati, Ohio, La Salle HS) became the first high school commitment of the Stoops era.
Four-star junior college defensive tackle Ben Bradley (6-2, 315, Norcross, Ga., Hutchinson CC) bypassed the Cats in favor of Auburn after a strong push by UK during a visit on Jan. 4.
The next few weeks prove to be the first stiff test of the new staff, with several recruits opting to take their official visits to campus in the next few weekends.
Saturday, UK will host four-star dual-threat quarterback Asiantii Woulard (6-3, 215, Winter Park, Fla., Winter Park HS). Woulard originally committed to South Florida, then de-committed in the wake of the dismissal of head coach Skip Holtz after the season.
Rivals.com rates Woulard as the fourth best dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2013 and the 120th best player overall.
Also Saturday, the Cats will bring in four-star wide receiver Ra’Shaad Samples (6-0, 170, Dallas, Skyline HS) for his first official visit. Samples is the 35th-ranked wide receiver in the class of 2013, according to Rivals.com, and committed to Oklahoma State in July.
Four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher (6-2, 240, Louisville, Trinity HS), a Southern California commitment, is among the other visitors, along with three-star running back Aregeros Turner (5-11, 180, Toledo, Ohio, Copley HS), three-star running back Jojo Kemp (5-10, 189, Deland, Fla., Deland HS), three-star wide receiver Janarion Grant (5-9, 165, Dade City, Fla., Pasco HS) and three-star defensive end Antoine Miles (6-3, 250, Canton, Ohio, McKinley HS).
Cornerback Blake McClain (5-11, 181, Winter Park, Fla., Winter Park HS) and defensive end Alvonte Bell (6-6, 228, Miramar, Fla., Everglades HS), each UK commitments, will also visit Saturday.