The Kentucky Wildcats are in the running with the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide for the commitment of 4-star weak-side defensive end Dante Sawyer.
Sawyer is an extremely talented recruit who projects to be good at the college level. He checks in at 6'3'', 240 pounds and is ranked as the No. 14 weak-side defensive end in the 2014 class, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
He's from Suwanee, Ga., so it makes sense that the Bulldogs are involved, and Alabama is always in the mix with big-time recruits—but Kentucky?
According to Kipp Adams of ESPN.com, the Wildcats are in Sawyer's top three:
Sawyer says for the most part he considers all of the schools that have offered to be on equal ground, but then admitted that three programs stand out at the moment, with one school possibly in the lead.
“Kentucky, Alabama and UGA are my top three, with Tennessee coming strong,” Sawyer said.
He goes on to talk about how Kentucky is recruiting him:
“Kentucky is showing me a lot of love right now, and I like their facilities and what they are about to do,” Sawyer said. “They write me every day, I stay in contact with them daily and they are doing everything they can to try and get me. They are recruiting me more aggressively than anyone right now.”
With that said, Alabama may very well be the leader for his commitment, per Adams' report:
If Georgia, Kentucky or any other school is going to sign Sawyer, they might have to beat out the back-to-back defending National Champions.
“I am always going to love Alabama,” Sawyer said. “I feel like Tuscaloosa, Ala., is a second home to me and me and Coach (Kirby) Smart are really cool. They might be the team to beat right now.”
Before we go any further, I would be remiss not to give Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops all the credit in the world. The fact that the Wildcats are even in this conversation is a huge testament to his abilities as a recruiter. Stoops is the right guy for the job at Kentucky, and if he can make that football program relevant at all in the SEC—that says a lot about him as a coach.
It starts with recruiting, and Stoops has a lot of work to do to change the perception that Kentucky is just a basketball school. Being in these type of recruiting races will certainly help slowly but surely accomplish that goal.
In the end though, it's hard to see Kentucky pulling off this major upset. In fact, if Georgia were to land Sawyer that in itself would be considered an upset as well.
When Nick Saban and Alabama are in the lead, much like on the field, they usually close it out.
At his size, Sawyer would fit in as an outside linebacker in the 3-4. He displays great athleticism, and quickness and should be comfortable on the edges of the defense. Alabama is known for churning out some big-time linebackers, and Sawyer has the potential to be next in line.
It's great to see Kentucky making a splash on the recruiting trail with Sawyer, but in the end, the national championship allure of Alabama should all but nullify any progress the Wildcats have made. The odds are really stacked against the Wildcats in regards to being able to land Sawyer.
Look for this Sawyer's recruitment to come down to Georgia and Alabama, with Tennessee as the potential dark horse.
I respect what Stoops has done so far on the recruiting trail, but he's not on this level just yet.