Could Frederick Douglas teammates Dekel Crowdus, left, and Jager Burton now both end up at Kentucky after Crowdus’ commitment to UK Sunday. (Twitter Photo)
By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky hasn’t needed long to already put its offensive pieces in place in its 2021 recruiting class.
The verbal commitment from Frederick Douglas four-star receiver Dekel Crowdus on Sunday potentially gives UK the dynamic playmaker needed to succeed in the Southeastern Conference because he has game-breaking speed, one reason some national recruiting analysts are projecting him as a likely NFL player.
In an eight-day span Kentucky added two receivers and a running back. It started with Ohio receiver Armond Scott of Cleveland picking UK on May 3. Three days later it was North Hardin running back La’Vell Wright that committed to Kentucky over West Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, Virginia and others.
The 6-3, 200-pound Scott had 40 catches for 700 yards and five touchdowns last year for Euclid High School in Cleveland. He’s so versatile that he also started at cornerback, punted, returned punts and was the long snapper on field goals and extra points. His size also makes him more physical than most receivers.
The 6-0, 202-pound Wright ran for 1,819 yards and 25 scores on 259 carries last season and also caught 34 passes for another 553 yards and three touchdowns as North Hardin went 13-1 with its only loss coming against Trinity in the state semifinals.
Go back to March 23 and that’s when Somerset quarterback Kaiya Sheron gave his verbal commitment to Kentucky. He threw for 3,218 yards and 28 touchdowns when he completed 178 of 260 passes with just five interceptions. He also ran for 959 yards and eight touchdowns.
Within hours of his commitment, Sheron said he would start immediately trying to persuade in-state players like Wright, Crowdus and Jager Burton, Crowdus’ teammate at Frederick Douglas and one of the nation’s top offensive linemen in the 2021 recruiting class.
“I am going to be talking to both of them (Burton and Crowdus) along with others,” Sheron said after his commitment. “I know both of them and a big-time receiver and big-time offensive lineman obviously are pretty important guys for me.”
Kentucky also has two Ohio junior offensive linemen — Paul Rodriguez and David Wohlabaugh — that have made verbal commitments to the Cats along with Georgia receiver Chauncey Magwood. That means seven of UK’s commitments in the 2021 class are offensive players.
Don’t overlook that three of the eight commitments are also in-state players. Kentucky Sports Radio’s Adam Luckett noted that Crowdus is the 13th in-state prospect to commit to Kentucky since Vince Marrow took over as the lead recruiter in the Bluegrass starting with the 2018 recruiting class.
Kentucky seems positioned now to six sign of the top eight in-state players in the 2021 class. That would include Burton along with safety Jordan Lovett, Wright’s North Hardin teammate, and Bowling Green tight end Jordan Dingle. The only two missing in the top eight would be Ohio State commit Jantzen Dunn, a South Warren athlete, and Trinity linebacker Jack Dingle.
Burton could be the crown jewel. The 6-4, 270-pound lineman is a top 200 recruit nationally and has visits scheduled to Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oregon along with Kentucky.
Burton said in early April he was backing off his original decision to make his college choice on Aug. 24 because the COVID-19 had postponed the official visits he planned to make. However, last week Burton posted this on Twitter: “I’m getting closer to a decision be patient with me!”
Both Burton and Crowdus have talked about playing together in college. With Crowdus now on board with the Wildcats it would certainly seem to enhance UK’s chances of also adding Burton.
“We actually talk about that (a package deal) for sure,” Crowdus told me last month. “I talk to him every day about where we might go and stuff like that. Most likely we will end up at the same school.”
And if that does happen now it will obviously be Kentucky after Crowdus’ commitment Sunday.