FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky football will play for its first SEC East title Saturday, but Mark Stoops and company have already scored a win this week that might help the chase for future titles.
Western Hills four-star athlete Wandale Robinson, the favorite to win Mr. Kentucky Football, committed to Kentucky on Thursday over finalists Nebraska, Ohio State, Alabama and Purdue.
A four-star prospect and U.S. Army All-American, Robinson is ranked as the No. 4 all-purpose back in the class of 2019 by the 247Sports Composite, which averages the ratings of the major recruiting services.
Robinson, who was considered Kentucky’s top offensive recruiting target in the 2019 cycle, is expected to play a similar role to current do-everything wide receiver Lynn Bowden in college, possibly lining up as a running back in addition to slot receiver and kick returner.
Bowden’s performance in Kentucky’s Saturday win over Missouri (13 catches for 166 yards and a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown) likely went far in alleviating some concerns about the Wildcats’ offense not being equipped to showcase a receiver like Robinson. Nebraska had been considered the favorite in his recruitment until this week.
“Anybody is going to do what they have to do to win a football game,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops recently said in response to concerns about the run-heavy offense hurting UK with skill-position recruits. “Sometimes you see people throwing the ball 70 times and they have to recruit a running back too. So, you have to do what you have to do in certain situations. … I think most recruits understand that.”
It was that argument that worked against Kentucky a year ago when Trinity four-star receiver Rondale Moore picked Purdue over the Wildcats and others despite Stoops and company being the first Power Five staff to offer him a scholarship.
Kentucky did not sign a single in-state prospect in its 2018 class for the first time since records are available but has rallied with four Kentucky high school commitments thus far in a banner 2019 class for the state.
Robinson joins Doss defensive end Shawnkel Knight-Goff, Butler wide receiver Demontae Crumes and West Jessamine offensive lineman Eli Cox as in-state commitments in the class. UK continues to recruit in-state four-star prospects Milton Wright, a Christian Academy wide receiver, and JJ Weaver, a Moore defensive end/outside linebacker.
Robinson, ranked as the seventh of eight four-star prospects in the Kentucky high school class of 2019, is UK’s only four-star commitment in the 247 Composite ratings.
The commitment represents a return to form for UK, which scored recruiting wins over out-of-state powers for Kentucky high school stars Drake Jackson, Kash Daniel, Landon Young and Davonte Robinson in the 2016 class. Of that group, only Young, a five-star recruit who was sidelined by a knee injury in preseason practice, has not been a significant contributor for the 7-1 Wildcats this season.