Recruiting Notebook: Saturday Night Primetime Camp
Cats Illustrated covered the first of six consecutive days of summer football camps at Kentucky on Saturday.
UK's annual Saturday Night Lights Camp has, under Mark Stoops, become one of the program's bigger recruiting events of the year.
While it was a prime opportunity to scout out plenty of the top players on Kentucky's board, it was also, as always, a good chance to rub shoulders with movers and shakers in the recruiting world who can shed some light on where things stand with players.
- Kentucky's coaches were obviously paying lots of attention to 2020 offensive lineman Walker Parks, a 6-foot-5, 250-pound prospect with enormous potential. Parks did not work out, having already received an offer from Kentucky, but he and his family were surrounded by Kentucky football figures throughout the evening. Coaches and recruits were routinely seen around Parks, who spent much of the camp event on the field chatting it up with folks. It seemed as though he was at ease and comfortable with Kentucky.
It is worth noting that one source did say that Parks' recent offer from Clemson could be a huge deal to him. "That's a school he really likes," the person told Cats Illustrated. So time will tell how his recruitment shakes out, but it's probably safe to say Kentucky and Clemson are two leading contenders.
- Speaking of players who received plenty of attention throughout the evening, it's a timely point to mention Beau Allen, the 2020 quarterback from Lexington Catholic who has been Kentucky's No. 1 priority at the position in his class.
Perhaps the most notable recruiting revelation from the evening was that Allen and 2019 Kentucky quarterback commitment Nik Scalzo seemed to strike up a very natural rapport and even a friendship with one another. In fact, we were told the two might be going to hang out after the camp. There was no sense of competition, even though the two could conceivably be trying to one-up each other in the same quarterback room one day.
Darin Hinshaw obviously spent plenty of time talking and working with Allen throughout the event.
Cats Illustrated was told that Allen is likely to visit some other schools this summer, including Purdue, North Carolina and several others. He has already visited Duke.
- Cats Illustrated spotted three Kentucky commitments at the Saturday Night Lights camp event: Moses Douglass, Nik Scalzo and Eli Cox.
Cox, who had worked out earlier in the day, hung around for at least the first part of the camp talking to John Schlarman and watching other players compete. His father told Cats Illustrated that even if he had picked up other offers, he is likely to remain with Kentucky as he seems to have found the perfect fit. He once again credited Drake Jackson and his father with their work helping to train Cox in the offseason.
Scalzo was a charismatic figure who was always around other prospects during the camp. Cats Illustrated spoke with several coaches and mentors of Florida prospects who pointed to Scalzo as a respected, widely-known prospect from the state who is likely to carry some clout with prospects who are considering Kentucky.
Douglass spent some time with Scalzo and was looking for other Kentucky commitments and targets at one point. His father and former UK player, Moe Douglass, was also at the event and the two could be spotted on the field after the camp's conclusion conversing with others who had made the trip. Douglass is also doing his part to help UK's coaches put the class together.
- Indianapolis (Ind.) Ben Davis running back Delbert Mimms has a top five of Kentucky, Louisville, Washington State, Miami-OH and Vanderbilt, according to his father, who accompanied him on his trip to Kentucky. Mimms participated in the camp at Kentucky, breaking off to go to the practice fields with the running backs group.
Mimms is known to have high interest in Vanderbilt, "Because their offensive coordinator is also the running backs coach," his father noted, before pointing out that Kentucky's situation with Gran is the same.
- Three-star Michigan cornerback Josh DeBerry participated in the Saturday night camp and he has an offer from Kentucky and area recruiter Steven Clinkscale, who has made him feel like a priority, according to his father.
Loice DeBerry, his father, told Cats Illustrated that they had been to Kentucky before and they have a healthy level of interest in the Wildcats. There is no timetable for a decision. Pittsburgh is one of many other schools showing the most interest in DeBerry.
- Lima (Ohio) Shawnee pro-style quarterback Johnny Caprella (6'3, 180) got a lot of attention from Kentucky QB's coach Darin Hinshaw before, during and after the event. He doesn't yet have an offer from Kentucky but his interest in the Wildcats seems to be fairly high, and Caprella is just looking for his breakthrough moment in the process. Hinshaw did speak with him at length once the event was over, and the two met shortly after Caprella arrived early for registration.
- Deontae Craig is not widely known in recruiting circles but it was impossible to ignore the amount of attention outside linebackers coach Brad White was showing to the Class of 2020 athlete and multi-sport (basketball, football) star from Culver Academy in Indiana. What's more impressive is the fact that Craig didn't even work out. Kentucky's coaches had apparently watched his film and White conveyed that the Wildcats were very intrigued already. So he's one to keep an eye on moving forward.
- Jeremiah Mawali is one of Boynton Beach, Fla.'s top prospects from the 2020 class and he was one of a number of prospects from the school to attend Kentucky's Saturday camp. John Schlarman spent a lot of time coaching the 6-foot-5, 286-pound offensive tackle in the OL/DL portion of the camp. As the two made their way over to Kroger Field for the highly anticipated and ultra-competitive 1-on-1's, Schlarman could be overheard encouraging Mawali to dominate on his share of the reps. He got plenty of reps on the bigger stage.
While Kentucky has not yet offered it was clear that Schlarman sees significant potential in Mawali, who is going to end up with a fantastic build and potentially left tackle-caliber athleticism.
- One of the top performers at the entire camp was Kingsley Grissett, a three-star (5.7) receiver from Pompano Beach (Fla.) Blanche Ely, the same school that produced 2018 signee Jamari Brown.
Grissett certainly lived up to his ranking and might even deserve four-star consideration because he was dominant in 1-on-1's. UK receivers coach Michael Smith seemed to have plenty of interest in (and praise for) Grissett throughout the camp and the two spoke afterwards. An offer could be going his way and his interest in Kentucky is significant.
A source close to some of the South Florida prospects who made the trip mentioned that Grissett, Claude Larkins (6'5, 220 from Fort Lauderdale), Cecil Powell (6'0, 190 from Piper HS in Sunrise, Fla) and Jimpson Jean (5'10, 160 from Piper) are likely to be on Kentucky's radar in the coming months and beyond.
- Vince Marrow is still aggressively pursuing Louisville prospects with the above noted offers. Don't expect decisions anytime soon, but it's noteworthy that the offers went out. The perception has been that parts of Kentucky outside Jefferson County are likely to be the focal point of UK's recruiting efforts beyond the 2019 class, but that might not be the case.
- Kentucky also offered Tristan Cox, a Class of 2021 athlete from Pulaski County.
- Massive Louisville tackle Kiyaunte Goodwin just completed his eighth grade school year and the 6'7, 350-pound lineman, who made waves with an offer from Kentucky after his 7th grade year, was observing the camp and getting some love from people around the program.
- Former Kentucky quarterback Freddie Maggard was spotted at the camp for its duration and the program is making an obvious effort to put him front and center in terms of its public relations effort. His interviews with players and his focus on life beyond football was a big part of what was shown on the video boards at Kroger Field. He has great networking skills and was a popular figure with parents and other adults who seemed to be accompanying players. So he's playing a big role in multiple facets of the program.
- Tra Wilkins, a three-star 2019 linebacker from Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson, has a long offer list and he revealed on Saturday that he has an upcoming official visit to Kentucky set for June 11-13.