Sophomore linebacker Demarius Rancifer will not return to the UK football team this fall, his high school coach told CatsIllustrated.com on Wednesday night.
Pensacola Catholic High School head coach Greg Seibert said the UK coaching staff told Rancifer he would be unlikely to see playing time in the fall, advising him to look at other options.
"It was not Demarius' choice," Seibert said in a phone interview.
Rancifer intends to transfer. He's considering schools closer to his home in Pensacola, but did not have a favorite as of Wednesday, Seibert said. According to Seibert, Rancifer did not have any academic or disciplinary issues.
"I don't like what happened, but I understand, unfortunately, the business of college football," Seibert said.
UK athletics spokesman Tony Neely confirmed four other transfers with Cats Illustrated as of Thursday. Sophomore wide receivers Bookie Cobbins and DeMarcus Sweat will also transfer, along with freshman cornerback Shawn Blaylock and safety Sterling Wright.
"We thank them for their time with the program and wish them the best in the future," UK head coach Mark Stoops said in a statement through a spokesman on Thursday evening.
Seibert discussed Rancifer's situation with UK defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot in person late in May when Eliot was at Pensacola Catholic. UK is currently recruiting Delvin Purifoy, a four-star linebacker in the class of 2014, at Pensacola Catholic High School.
Seibert said that while he disagrees with the staff's decision, he understands it. Rancifer was told Kentucky would be recruiting a different type of athlete for its defense.
"Demarius had not given them a reason to release him, like academics or discipline," Seibert said. "But Demarius is smart enough to see the writing on the wall when you're not going to play very much."
Rancifer's situation could play a role in Kentucky's relationship with Pensacola Catholic going forward, Seibert said.
"If I had another recruit that was considering Kentucky, it would be important that they know exactly what they were getting into," he said. "This is one of those situations that will have to be recounted to you. (Recruits are) going to have to go into this with their eyes wide open. They're going to have to give the staff a reason to keep them."
Rancifer redshirted in 2011 and played sparingly last season. He appeared in 11 games, playing mostly on special teams. He had one tackle. He had seven tackles, including one tackle for a loss, while playing with the second string defense in the Blue/White game.
He was a three-star prospect and the No. 44 outside linebacker in the country in the class of 2011
"Demarius is 6-3, 230," Seibert said. "He runs pretty well, a low 4.6 (40-yard dash) kid. He has good cover skills and is physical at the point of attack. As a person, he's a 10. An absolute 10. Probably one of the best I've coached in 10 years of high school football."
UK confirms 4 more players won't return
Rancifer won't be the only Wildcat not returning.
Sophomore wide receivers DeMarcus Sweat and Bookie Cobbins, safety Sterling Wright and cornerback Shawn Blaylock will not return to the team in the fall, a spokesman confirmed to Cats Illustrated on Thursday.
Sweat played in 10 games as a freshman, catching four passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns. He was held off the depth chart at the end of the season for academic reasons. Sweat and Blaylock were high school teammates at Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga. Blaylock is not related to UK defensive backs Daron and Zack Blaylock.
Cobbins redshirted in 2011 as a quarterback before moving to wide receiver in 2012. He played in two games, and did not record a reception. He wasn't among 15 UK players to record a catch in the Blue/White game this spring.
Wright redshirted his freshman season last year. Blaylock redshirted while recovering from a torn ACL. Neither ever played a down for UK.
Kentucky now has just four returning scholarship wide receivers for 2013. Four UK wide receivers, including receiving leader La'Rod King graduated after the 2012 season.