Kentucky Football: Three 2018 In-State Recruits Mark Stoops Needs to Land

Kentucky Football

Nov 14, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops walks off the field after his team is defeated by the Vanderbilt Commodores during the second half at Vanderbilt Stadium. Vanderbilt won 21-17. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Lately, the state of Kentucky has produced some great high school football talent.

With the Likes of Damien Harris, Kash Daniel, Landon Young, Drake Jackson and Jedrick Wills, the Bluegrass State has gained the attention of Power 5 Conference teams when it comes to recruiting. Just Recently, Nick Saban made a trip to Lafayette High School in Lexington to visit Mr. Wills, a five star offensive tackle.

There have been a few bluegrass boys in previous years that have been hot commodities. Kentucky football has made a great home in the state of Ohio, but a lot of talent can be found right here at home.

With National Signing Day concluded and the 2017 recruiting class set to make their way to campus, It’s never too early to speculate which in state stars the Cats are going after. At this point, the only recruit that Kentucky has managed to get to commit in the class of 2018 is Georgia three-star quarterback Jarren Williams. The young man has already managed to rack up other offers. Miami (Fl.), Mississippi St., Tennessee, Florida St., and Louisville are hard after the Kentucky Commit.

Here are three players in the high school class of 2018 that are being highly recruited. Look out for these names in the coming months during combine season. Hopefully the Cats can snag these athletes away from other Power Five schools.


Justice Dingle, OLB

Bowling Green High School, KY

Justice Dingle is a raw talent out of the western part of Kentucky.

Bowling Green High School is a powerhouse football program in the state’s 5-A class, winning five of the last six state championships. According to both and, Dingle is a four star Outside Linebakcer.

In the SEC, outside linebackers are a great weapon to have. Case in point, Kentucky’s Jordan Jones. The Youngstown, Ohio Native had a spectacular season in 2016 and was a key contributor on a struggling defense.

Dingle would provide depth at the position for years to come. He has the size to contribute on the interior as well. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, the young man already has an SEC body frame. At Bowling Green, Justice Dingle has a record of 43-3 with two state titles. The kid is a winner. At a program like Bowling Green, athletes leave ready to step in and play. This is a kid that Kentucky needs to pursue heavily in the future.

Dingle has standing offers from a variety of schools include Mark Stoops and Kentucky. Also included are Virginia, Tennessee, Purdue, and Louisville. I see this list rising as Dingle hits up the offseason camps and combines.


Tahj Rice, DE

Waggener High School, Louisville, KY

Tahj Rice could be a difference maker later in his collegiate career.

Rice is an uncommitted Strongside Defensive End out of Louisville, Kentucky. Tahj played a number of positions at Waggener High School. Most notably, the 6-foot-3, 285 pounder anchors the defensive line for the Wildcats. Both and has given Rice the nod as a legit four star athlete.

Tahj Rice is listed as the No. 10 overall Defensive End prospect by 247sports and the No. 12 overall Defensive End prospect according to Rivals. That is pretty consistent marketing for the young man.

Rice has gathered 10 Division-1 offers but that number is sure to rise in the primetime recruiting window. Most notable, Kentucky has not offered the big defensive end just yet. Rice is currently boasting offers from Louisville, Boston College, Cincinnati, Purdue, and Western Kentucky among others.

In the SEC, depth at the defensive line position could make or break a team trying to contend. Unfortunately, Kentucky’s defensive line depth has been a weakness. Kentucky should consider adding the best defensive lineman in the state to set the tone for future in-state prospects. Mark Stoops better act quick, as the 247sports crystal ball prediction has Rice going to Louisville at 100 percent.


Jairus Brents, CB

Waggener High School, Louisville, KY

The most highly touted prospect in Kentucky in the 2018 class is hands-down, Cornerback, Jairus Brents.

Brents attends the same high school as defensive end prospect, Tahj Rice. Jairus Brents is a pure athlete. He holds five total KHSAA State Track and Field Championships in various events. A kid with top end speed is surely sought after by many Power 5 schools.

The Waggener High School cornerback stand just 5-feet, 10-inches tall and weighs in at just under 180 pounds. This is not the typical defensive back that Mark Stoops goes after, but he makes an exception for this talent.

Brents boast offers from 28 Division-1 schools. Most notably: Alabama, Florida, Louisville, Michigan St., Mississippi St., Oregon, Tennessee, and UCLA have all extended offers for this Kentucky talent.

Jairus Brents is rated as a four-star product on both Rivals (19th overall CB) and 247sports (18th overall CB). Mark Stoops should look no further than Louisville, KY for his next great CB prospect. A recruiting win with Brents would mean a lot for the future of in-state recruiting for Kentucky.

Kentucky Football

Nov 19, 2016; Lexington, KY, USA; Austin Peay Governors running back Rashaan Coleman (21) runs the ball against Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Kash Daniel (56) in the second half at Commonwealth Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting your state is just as important as others. Especially for Kentucky Football.

When Kentucky starts to land top in-state talent, it sets the tone for prospects considering other schools. Recruits like Damien Harris, and Jedrick Wills, who both committed to Nick Saban and Alabama over the Cats, did not have that notion to stay at home. When top tier prospects start to stay at home and play for the Cats, then a routine for the best athletes will be laid down.

When a five-star player is developed into a must-get recruit, Kentucky needs to be competitive with the “big boys”. Just a few short years ago, Mark Stoops beat out Nick Saban for defensive tackle Matt Elam. Its wins like Elam that could sway another top recruit in the state to sway towards the Cats.

If there is one thing that Mark Stoops is doing right as the Head Coach at Kentucky, it is recruiting. But losing two program-changing players from the state is heartbreaking. Vince Marrow and Mark Stoops ought to get to work this summer with these three as they can be the difference on a defense looking to add depth at some key positions.

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