Chris Hays is the recruiting coverage coordinator for the Orlando Sentinel and has seen the impact new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot, who came to UK¿from Florida State, have made on recruiting in Florida.
“Before those guys came in, Blake McClain was the only one in Central Florida (Orlando area) getting recruited heavily by Kentucky, but now there’s Jeff Badet, Asiantii Woulard, JoJo Kemp, Stafon McCray ... and on and on. Every kid I talk to is suddenly listing Kentucky among his list of schools he wants to visit and, honestly that has not been the case around here,” Hays said.
“These guys know Florida recruiting and where to find the right prospects. It’s not just Central Florida, either. They kept Alvonte Bell onboard, who is a star in the making with very raw skills but a tremendous player. They landed Khalid Thomas, who is one of the unsung of an incredible group of 2013 Florida running backs and they’ll be bringing in a few others before signing day. Things have to be looking up.”
Hays (@Os_Recruiting on Twitter) offered these insights on Badet, a receiver, and Woulard, a quarterback, both former South Florida commits who have a high interest in Kentucky as national signing day approaches Feb. 6:
Question: What do you like best about Badet and Woulard?
Hays: “Jeff has always impressed me with his speed after the catch. He’ll catch a ball on a slant pattern across the middle and then turn it on. Rarely have I seen defenders be able to collapse fast enough to contain him if he has any kind of space. In three years of watching him, I can only remember one time that he dropped a ball, and that time he came right back and caught a long TD pass on the next play. He’s pretty sure-handed.
“Asiantii has nothing but upside. He’s played the position for only two years and done a tremendous job considering. He’s accurate and gets the ball where the receivers can make a play. He could develop some more arm strength, for sure. He’s athletic but running the football is not his forte and I question the fact that he’s even listed as a dual-threat quarterback. Though he has that ability, he has never been much of a threat to run the ball other than out of necessity.”
Question:¿How do you think each would fit into the offense that Neal Brown ran at Texas Tech and will use at Kentucky?
Hays: “Badet is a spread guy, with the speed and skills to fit right into an Air Raid sort of attack and thrive in it. He wold love that offense and it’s not unlike what he saw at his own high school. As for Asiantii, anything he is presented will be a bit of a learning curve, but he does seem to pick things up well. His newness to the position is his drawback, but that is a given for anyone who brings him in. It’s known there will be a learning curve, but it’s a price many are quite willing to accept.”
Question: Do you think Kentucky has a realistic chance at signing one or both of them?
Hays: “I think Badet is a Wildcat from what I am able to gather in conversations with him. I’m looking for him to don a blue-and-white hat next week sometime unless something drastic changes everything. As for Asiantii, it’s far more difficult to get a read on him. I know he is living it up with this UCLA trip this weekend and they are going to give him that Hollywood treatment that might be hard to match. If UCLA really wants him I have no doubt they can sew it up with an overwhelming shower of affection during this trip. Otherwise he’ll be down to Kentucky and Clemson, and I’m not sure how committable the Clemson offer is.”
Question: Could one or both of them play immediately at Kentucky?
Hays:¿“Badet should be on the field with the first-teamers early, with his only drawback possibly being his confidence, or should I say, over confidence. It’s hard to say how that will rub off on the rest of the team, but more importantly on the coaches. If he brings the right attitude and backs up any cockiness with his play, he will be in the rotation.
“Woulard will need seasoning at the next level. Wildcats have seen it before with Max (Smith) and those before him. Throwing Asiantii into the fire would be detrimental. I think it takes a certain mindset for a kid to step in right away and get pounded by college defenses. He’ll need to sit back and watch things happen for a bit, and then get on the field when he has a grasp for the offense and the speed of the game. It’s too easy for a young player to get discouraged if his line isn’t holding up or receivers aren’t running the right routes or breaking them off soon enough when he’s in trouble and that can lead to confidence issues, as well as pointing fingers far too early. Asiantii doesn’t need any of that right off the bat.”