Five to Watch in Sunshine State

Mackensie Alexander

Five of Kentucky's 13 known verbal commitments to date hail from Florida, underscoring a shift in the UK staff's recruiting strategy from recent years.

In this KentuckyScout football recruiting feature, we take a look at five uncommitted prospects from the Sunshine State who could emerge as major factors in the Wildcats' 2013 class.

Mackensie Alexander: One of the nation's elite cornerbacks, Alexander originally committed to Tennessee, but quickly backed out of that verbal and re-opened his recruitment. He made an unofficial visit to Lexington this summer, but many recruiting observers saw schools like Alabama, Florida State, LSU and USC on his scholarship list and automatically counted the Wildcats out of the race. But according to sources close to the four-star prospect from Immokalee High School, UK may be a bigger factor than most realize. Word behind the scenes is that UK or Clemson may have the best shot at Alexander if he chooses to leave the Sunshine State. The Cats' secret weapon may be a committable scholarship offer for his twin brother and fellow defensive back, Mackenroe Alexander, something that the other major suitors may not be willing to put on the table. UK has also offered Immokalee defensive tackle Deadrin Senat, and the group has expressed interest in playing together at the next level.

Jeremy Benjamin: The three-star linebacker from MacArthur High School currently lists UK among his top four alongside West Virginia, Wake Forest and Florida International. Benjamin (6-2, 225, 4.55) is the type of athlete that the Wildcats need to target on a defense that has traditionally struggled in comparison to its SEC counterparts. Never was that more underscored than in UK's season opener on Sunday at Louisville. Benjamin, who also holds offers from BCS programs like Tennessee, Texas A&M, Cincinnati, Purdue, Illinois and Pittsburgh, plans to make an official visit to Lexington in September.

Ander Bodkin: The three-star offensive tackle from Marianna High School has been rumored to be getting close to a verbal commitment, and many observers believe the Cats hold a slight edge over South Florida at this time. Florida State, Arkansas and N.C. State continue to evaluate the Bodkin, who could elect to string his recruitment out a bit longer if any of those enter the picture. The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder fits the profile of a Mike Summers lineman – a tall, athletic frame capable of carrying significantly more weight and terrific footwork.

Eric Mayes: The Sarasota Booker defensive end remains something of a sleeper prospect by Sunshine State standards, but at 6-4 and 245 pounds, he has the physical attributes that UK is looking for on the edges. As a junior, he recorded 10 sacks against some stout competition in the greater Tampa area. There is some familiar competition for his services, including West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana and Purdue.

Antonio Guerad: One of our most recent feature interviews on KentuckyScout, Guerad is a 6-4, 230-pound defensive end from Tampa Bay Tech who currently lists the Cats among a top four that includes Central Florida, Florida International and Iowa State. Arkansas State, Cincinnati and Syracuse have also offered, while South Florida and Georgia Tech have indicated that they'll be tracking his games early this season, so the competition could get stiffer the deeper we get into the fall. Guerad says he's currently discussing a potential official visit to Lexington at the end of September.

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