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2017 National Signing Day Wrap-Up: Kentucky Wildcats

There is hope on the horizon for Kentucky.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On the surface, the Kentucky WIldcats had an incredibly boring signing day. No surprise commits, no recruit sitting in a stuffy gym picking up a Kentucky hat, no choosing the Wildcats via weather balloon only to later sign with an entirely different school, no Kobe Buffalomeat, on and on.

But, if you dig deeper and look at their class as a whole, there’s reason to be excited about Kentucky Wildcats football.

You laugh, sure. Football? At Kentucky? They’re a basketball school! Sure, the Wildcats will probably never be known for their football instead of their basketball, but what Mark Stoops and his staff have been doing has gone largely unnoticed on a national stage for the past couple seasons.

Four-Stars

The Wildcats landed at least four star players for the first time since 2014, when they landed six.

The 2017 four-stars include: ATH Lynn Bowden, WR JaVonte Richardson, DE Josh Paschal, and ATH Tyrell Aijan.

As always when you see players with positions listed as “athlete”, you often wonder where they’ll fit on the roster.

In Bowden’s case, it appears he’ll play wide receiver. However, Kentucky will probably have Bowden take a few snaps at QB in their “Wildcat” formation. Randall Cobb seems like an apt comparison. As you can see in Bowden’s Hudl, he has experience at quarterback.

For Aijan, he’ll probably be playing defensive back, though his Hudl shows his highlights as a wide receiver.

Local Flavor

While the Wildcats couldn’t keep the state’s #1 recruit around (OT Jedrick Wills, Lexington, committed to Alabama) they were able to nab two of Kentucky’s ten best prospects.

Walker Wood, a three-star dual threat QB and native of Lexington, chose to stay home and play for the Wildcats. Wood had offers from schools all around the area, including Louisville and Cincinnati.

Stoops and his staff see the sky as the limit for Wood, as Kentucky QB coach Darin Hinshaw compared Wood to Johnny Manziel.

Though Stephen Johnson or Drew Barker (if healthy) will probably be Kentucky’s quarterback next season, Wood will have a chance to work his way into the starting role eventually.

Kentucky’s other in-state commit was three-star OT Austin Dotson. Dotson hails from Belfry, Kentucky.

Future Quarterback Battle?

As noted above, Johnson or Barker will probably start for Kentucky this season. Walker Wood was just one of Kentucky’s two quarterback commits in this class, though. The other is pro-style QB Danny Clark.

There are obvious differences between a dual threat and pro-style quarterback. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Stoops and his staff haven’t shown much of a preference either way in the past few years, with pro-style Patrick Towles and Barker each running the show for a while, and dual threat Johnson taking over last year.

Clark should get a chance to compete for the starting job at some point as well.