Mayfield's Jones commits to Kentucky

December 21, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

For months the University of Kentucky football coaching staff has been hoping that Micah Jones would verbally commit to the Wildcats.

Saturday the talented offensive lineman from Mayfield finally reached the same conclusion.

Jones, ranked among the nation's top 20 offensive tackles by several recruiting analysts, decided to end his recruiting process by committing to sign with the Wildcats in February.

The 6-6, 336-pound Jones is a huge catch for Rich Brooks and his staff for several reasons.

First, Kentucky has a desperate need for offensive linemen next season after losing three starters to graduation off last year's team. Already Brooks had secured verbal commitments from in-state linemen Aaron Miller of Grayson and Gary Williams of Louisville and just last week signed junior college lineman Ernnie Pelayo.

Jones has the talent to possibly start from day one with the Wildcats. He had been offered scholarships by Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisville, Michigan and others.


Second, from a public relations perspective, Jones is a player that Brooks and his staff had to be able to secure. If the state's best linemen didn't pick Kentucky, especially if he went to another Southeastern Conference school, it could have been a disaster for Brooks and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips.

Phillips has extensive recruiting contacts in his native western Kentucky and there's no doubt that turned out to be a huge plus in landing Jones.

Third, Jones could possibly have an impact on where two other marquee in-state players - quarterback Brian Brohm of Trinity and receiver Lonnell Dewalt of Warren Central - eventually play their college football.

Most recruiting analysts have four in-state players - Jones, Brohm, Dewalt and running back Joe Casey of Paducah - on their national watch lists this season. Kentucky already has a commitment from Casey, but he'll have to go to junior college because of academic issues.

But just having Jones and Casey commit to UK has to make it easier for Brohm and DeWalt to do the same.

Jones had called off an official visit to Alabama last week. The Tennessee coaching staff also made an in-home visit last week, but that could not counter the feeling he had from his recent official visit to Kentucky when he basically narrowed his choices to UK and Tennessee.

Kentucky, like Tennessee, is fairly close to home for Jones. Going to Kentucky also gives him a chance to play with former high school rival Ricky Abren of Hopkinsville. Abren was Jones' host on his visit to UK.

Jones also liked what he heard from UK offensive line coach Paul Dunn on his visit, especially the part about possibly being able to help the Wildcats next season.

Kentucky now has 16 verbal commitments to go with the five junior college players it signed last week. That will come close to completing UK's 2004 recruiting class - or it could.

At least two of the 16 players planning to sign in February won't qualify academically. Kentucky has between 17 and 20 scholarships available to offer in February - not counting the five it has already used for junior college players. The Cats could also oversign and have some players not report until January, 2005.

However, one player who definitely will sign is Jones and that's huge for Brooks and his staff.

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