Poll Southeastern Conference fans and the majority would scoff at an SEC school rebuilding its football program by recruiting Ohio. Laugh all you want at the University of Kentucky.
Led by new head coach and Ohio native Mark Stoops (Youngstown Mooney graduate), UK has committed to a Buckeye State build. Of the Wildcats’ six 2014 commits, five are JJHuddle.com Top 100 players from Ohio. In addition to Westerville South TE Darryl Long and Youngstown Christian DL Tymere Dubose, the list includes locals Mikel Horton (RB, Lakota West), Dorian Hendrix (LB, Wayne) and Thaddeus Snodgrass (WR, Springfield).
Expect others to follow.
Additional 2014 UK targets include Troy OL Alex Dalton, Lakota East OL Jarrett LaRubbio and Trotwood-Madison LB Verdante Wilkinson.
Why UK? Momentum. Stoops’ first recruiting class in February was the program’s first to rank in the Top 30 — ever. In April, the Wildcats had a record 50,831 show up for their spring game. Last year, that event drew 4,500. The previous record was 20,325 set in 1987.
That sixth commit? Hebron (Ky.) Conner quarterback Drew Barker — a Top 100 national recruit, who picked UK over South Carolina on Friday.
Verbal agreement: Speaking of the SEC, Minster junior TE Ethan Wolf committed to Tennessee on April 10. Since then he’s received offers from Wisconsin and Alabama.
Trojan horse: Dalton’s offer list numbers 19 and growing. The top OL prospect in southwest Ohio, the Troy junior owns offers from Stanford, Oklahoma, Michigan State, Arkansas, Penn State, South Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia, Kentucky and Cincinnati. Last week he added Nebraska, Virginia Tech and Louisville.
Mark it on your calendar: Saturday, Oct. 12. That’s when defending Division III state champion Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary will come to Welcome Stadium to face Thurgood Marshall. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
The Irish feature RB Parris Campbell Jr. and LB Dante Booker. Both are consensus Top 10 2014 Ohio prospects. Campbell is committed to Ohio State. Booker favors the Buckeyes.
Marshall counters with 2014 prospect Vayante Copeland, who has 10 offers (including Michigan State, Minnesota, Indiana, West Virginia, Louisville, Duke and UC).
Hot commodity: Middletown’s Vince Edwards continues to impress on the AAU basketball circuit. In a recent Nike Elite Youth League tour stop in Hampton, Va., Edwards helped powerhouse All-Ohio Red go 4-1. The next weekend he helped AOR go 5-0 and win the Gold Bracket title at the prestigious Bill Hensley Memorial Run-n-Slam All-Star Classic in Fort Wayne. Uncommitted, Edwards’ top two schools are Michigan and Purdue.
Same town, different school: Fairmont senior point guard Chelsea Welch has de-committed from Duquesne. Her new home? Pitt.
Welch, a member of Fairmont’s state championship team, followed former Duquesne coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, who was named Pitt coach on April 12.
Looking ahead, Fairmont juniors Kathryn Westbeld and Mikala Waterman will be two of the country’s most sought after 2014 recruits. Both are Top 30 national prospects.
Final Four: The University of Dayton just missed out on Elida junior G Dakota Mathias, who committed to Purdue. Mathias, a starter in the 2012 D-II state final against Dunbar, picked the Boilermakers over the Flyers, West Virginia and Belmont.