Kentucky has never been a state that is capable of exclusively fueling one BCS-level program, let alone two, like a Georgia, Louisiana or Ohio. There are going to be between 10 and 15 BCS-worthy prospects every year that Kentucky and Louisville are going to compete for, then the programs will steer their efforts to other Southeast and Midwest states to round out their classes. However, programs like Eastern Kentucky, Murray State and Morehead State have a pretty significant in-state pool to draw from with FCS-level prospects statewide. Western Kentucky, having moved up to the FBS level, will likely be able to pull the middle-of-the-road prospect in-state, but still must infiltrate states like Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi, among others, because there are not enough top-level prospects to fill out a roster with Kentucky prospects only. As it stands right now, Kentucky and Louisville have commitments from 10 of the top 20 prospects we have evaluated in the state, and eight of those 20 have yet to make their commitment.
ATH Jon Davis
The real question on Davis, a Kentucky commit, is where to play him at the next level. The two most likely spots are outside linebacker or tight end and the offensive side of the ball is where we would lean initially. He is extremely athletic and carries his weight extremely well. He is a straight-line player for the most part, but runs extremely well given his measurables (6-foot-2, 235 pounds). If Davis played in a more wide-open scheme, he would be much more statistically attractive in the passing game. He has very good overall ball skills and is capable of making things happen in the open field (he has even seen time as a running back). Joker Phillips' spread offense could use an H-back weapon like Davis.
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QB DaMarcus Smith
Smith, a Louisville commit, has had to overcome two obstacles: his lack of ideal height (he's just 6 feet) and making up for lost experience after missing his junior season with a knee injury. One he can recover from; one he has to deal with. But regardless, Smith has one of the best, natural, quick releases of any quarterback in this class. He is athletic and a perfect fit for the spread offense, but he can also sit in the pocket and make just about any throw on the field. Smith earned rave reviews from the camp circuit and also from coaches at camps he attended on college campuses. In this age of shorter quarterbacks who can run and throw, taking a risk on 6-foot guys is no longer a huge stretch like it was 10 or 15 years ago.
Taking up residence
This is a two-school race between Kentucky and Louisville. Of the 165 prospects we have in our database from the state of Kentucky, Western Kentucky does not have a single commitment in-state.
Phillips is making his mark on the recruiting trail with his first Kentucky class and the effort to keep the top in-state talent close to home is obvious. Four-star offensive tackle prospect Zach West (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Christian Academy) has tremendous upside and good physical measurables. With the addition of West, the Wildcats now have commitments from three out of the four top-rated prospects from the state. West joins fellow offensive tackle Darrian Miller (Lexington. Ky./Bryan Station), a tall and mobile lineman, as well as Davis. This class got some defensive help as well and is deep overall in quality.
Charlie Strong is doing a very nice job in his first full recruiting cycle on the job for the Cardinals as he works to lay down his blueprint for success. He is spending a significant amount of time in Florida and Georgia, upgrading Louisville's speed and athleticism. Of the 20 verbal commitments so far, six are from Florida, including S Calvin Pryor (Port St. Joe, Fla./Port St. Joe) and CB Terrell Floyd (Port St. Lucie, Fla./Port St. Lucie). Three are from Georgia with RB Zay Sharp (Griffin, Ga./Spaulding) leading the way. Strong is working on keeping some of the best in-state players home as well, highlighted by RB Jerrell Moore (Louisville, Ky./Fern Creek) and QB Smith.