LEXINGTON — Kentucky got its quarterback of the future and signed 20 total prospects in the first day of the early signing period Wednesday.
The Wildcats signed eight players from Florida, four from Ohio, two each from Michigan and Georgia, one each from Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee and a kicker from Australia.
“We addressed some needs,” Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Morrow said. “What I was looking for as the recruiting coordinator was getting (quarterback) Terry Wilson and addressing the offensive and defensive line depth. I don’t know what Coach Stoops addressed, I got in here late, but we are still on some guys that we are going to finish out with, so it’s been a very exciting day.
Kentucky’s biggest target during the early recruiting period was Willson, considered one of the top junior college signal callers in nation. Wilson, who will have three years of eligibility remaining, played for one season at Oregon before transferring to Garden City Community College in Kansas.
“We’re very blessed to have him in this signing class,” he said. “I think it was a position definitely we needed to get somebody in this spot.”
Marrow said Wilson’s demeanor was evident during the recruiting process.
“He wanted to spend time around his girlfriend, he spent time with his mom, he’s just a high-character kid (and) he loves God,” Marrow said. “I’m not saying he’s perfect, but you can just tell the young man is all about business. He made a mistake the first time around when he went to Oregon and that didn’t work out and I think he just matured from that. He’s only 19 years old, but when you talk to him he seems like he is in his 20’s. We have a very mature young man.
Wilson, a duel-threat signal caller, will be counted on to fill the void vacated by departing senior Stephen Johnson, who led the Wildcats to back-to-back bowl appearances in his two seasons at Kentucky. Stoops said Wilson’s past experience will be beneficial when he arrives on campus and participates in spring workouts.
“The nice thing about Terry is he’s a year older, played a year of college football, he’s already been at a Power 5 school for a year, so he knows what he’s getting into,” Stoops said. “The beautiful thing about him was he was a joy to recruit. It was very difficult. He was getting pulled a million different directions. There was a time when things started getting very hairy where he was getting pulled from people at his junior college, from everybody.”
Stoops said Wilson fits into Kentucky’s offensive scheme “very well.”
“I think we molded the offense to what we had to a year ago, like we talked about,” Stoops said. “We have tried to be more efficient in throwing the ball, and at times we have. Again, that goes with everybody.”
Although Wilson arrives with experience, Stoops added winning the Jon won’t be an easy task, especially with Drew Barker and Gunnar Hoak returning next season.
“I told him exactly what it is, exactly what you know,” he said. “I think everybody who plays that position better fully expect to come in and compete.”
Kentucky’s biggest recruiting target area was Florida, anchored by Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran. The Wildcats signed eight players from the Sunshine State, most of which are three-star prospects.
“Eddie Gran has just done a remarkable job getting these players,” Stoops said. “I’ve been down there, as you know, for a long time, but Eddie really has very, very strong relationships with people down there. Down there when you start recruiting south Florida it’s about trust. He’s been there for – I don’t want to age him – at least 30 years.”
The Wildcats landed four-star recruits Marquan McCall, an offensive lineman from Michigan and Darian Kinnard, an offensive tackle from Ohio. Kentucky signed 10 offensive players, including three side receivers and a running back, along with eight on defense and a punter and a kicker.
“We are to a point now where we aren’t taking a backseat to anybody,” Marrow said. “We’ve got guys that want to be here. There are some situations why maybe two guys didn’t sign and we are working on that right now, but how can you not want to be a part of this? You’ve seen what we have to offer.
“This is our second year going to back-to-back bowls, we keep improving and my message to them is you’ve seen the fan base here. You know what it’s all about. If there is a better place out there, then they need to go there. But I know the 20 guys that signed today are big-time players. We had schools tugging at those guys (Tuesday night).”