What better place to start for fans of the bluegrass state than in the River City, home to arguably the state's top talent again in 2008.
The Cream of the Crop
Louisville (Ky.) Male HS defensive end Dexter Heyman, brother of current Louisville sophomore Earl Heyman, is arguably the top player in the state. The 6-foot-3, 205 pounder has been near dominant since he decided to carve his own path at Male just three years ago. The brother of a former Army All-American just two years this past December, the expectation is that Dexter will be receiving his hat and jersey in the near future. After the state of Kentucky was shut out of the annual contest in San Antonio this past year, it will most certainly be a celebrated event.
Heyman has an offer from UL
Despite often times being overshadowed by the more physically eye catching specimens in Henderson and Ulinski, it's hard to argue with Dupont Manual HS defensive end Brandon Young's production once Henderson departed this past year.
The former Atlanta (Ga.) native now Louisvillian has excellent speed for his size and is still adding some good weight to his 6-foot-3, 255 pound frame. With so many good defensive linemen in the city of Louisville, Young has done his best to get his name out by visiting some schools early. The effort has paid off, as Young is no longer a hidden gem sitting in the shadows.
Young's a stud
Louisville (Ky.) Pleasure Ridge Park defensive tackle Brandon Newman makes it four defensive lineman in the derby city. The PRP star currently sports an offer from Kentucky after a season that saw him star at nose guard and defensive end. His coach, Chris Wolfe, compares him to current UK defensive tackle Myron Pryor, who was of similar size and build coming out of high school. Newman currently sits at 6-foot-0 and around 290 pounds and with a stellar 3.9 GPA, could see a considerable amount of attention come early. Newman is a weight room warrior, nearly squatting 700 pounds at 15 years old and already benching over 300 pounds in both the bench press and the clean.
Louisville (Ky.) Dupont Manual HS defensive tackle Dave Ulinski, whose grandfather played under Bear Bryant at UK and has his name retired at Commonwealth Stadium, is a 6-foot-6, 300 pound specimen that has already attracted attention from across the roadmap of college football and is expected to be heavily recruited in 2008. Despite exhibiting exceptional feet, Ulinski is projected to switch sides and move to offensive line at the next level after starring at defensive tackle the past year since the departure of current Louisville redshirt freshmen Aundre Henderson.
Ulinski on the rise?
On the Verge
Lexington (Ky.) sports one big-time prospect in Henry Clay HS athlete Aaron Boyd (ATH, 6'4, 195), the brother of former UK quarterback Shane Boyd. The star wide receiver has been a dominant the past two years and is hoping to cash in on the recruiting front in 2008, much like his brother did 8 years ago. Before picking Kentucky, Boyd had offers from several top programs. While many don't expect young Aaron to experience that type of attention on the recruiting front, he could be one to watch. Like Shane, Aaron is an excellent athlete with a decently big build. Should he get into a weight program, he could see a move to the defensive side of the ball or play with a hand on the ground, at tight end.
Also in Lexington, is fellow second-team All-City running back, Terrell Combs of Bryan Station HS. Combs who is a beastly 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, could develop into a linebacker at the next level, but runs well. Because he plays out of position, Combs could be a diamond in the rough.
Catholic powerhouse Trinity HS in Louisville boasts an intriguing offensive tackle prospect in Sam Robey. The 6-foot-4, 235 pound son of former UK basketball standout Rick Robey will need to gain some weight, but has already made a name for himself in the football world for his unending drive on the football field.
Bowling Green (Ky.) high school is home to three solid prospects that should be highly recruited in the upcoming year in Ryan Wallace (TE, 6'5, 230), D.L. Moore (WR, 6'6, 185) and Jared Carpenter (CB/S, 6'0, 190).
Will UK's signing of Hines help?
Of the three, it's hard to argue that Moore is not the best prospect among the bunch, given his unique size and stature, which is scarily similar to Scout Top 100 Nashville (Tn.) Pearl-Cohn WR Rashad Mason, who signed with North Carolina this past year. In addition to his size, he's got decent leaping ability and a good reach, making him difficult to cover on any level.
Wallace, the son of Purple head coach Kevin Wallace, is a big target that has got a great frame to add weight. He's a smart, intelligent football player and is an excellent blocking tight end for the future, but will get some curious onlookers to wonder if he could move to offensive guard at the next level.
Carpenter's arguably the biggest stretch of the group, but depending on how well Moore and Wallace are received, could become a prospect to watch. He's already got an offer from Western Kentucky and could see more heading his way, depending on how well he performs this summer.
The Best of the Rest
The state's best running back prospect could be Eric Reed, Jr. from Doss HS, if he can stay healthy. As a sophomore, Reed was near dominant, rushing for 6 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards in 11 games, before an injury limited him as a junior. The 5-foot-11, 175 pound tailback runs a decent time in the forty-yard dash and could end up playing on either side of the ball at the next level. Sadly, the state's best senior running back Alan Williams (RB, 5'8, 175) from Marshall Co. HS might not measure in well enough this summer to garner the attention that Reed will, but will be a steal for someone willing to take a chance.
Frankfurt doesn't even have a track, yet quarterback EJ Fields (ATH, 6'2, 165) could be the fastest player in the state of Kentucky. In 12 games, Fields ran for 1147 and 14 touchdowns.
His name covers the state stat book like spilled coffee on a work document, yet many don't consider 5-foot-9, 170 pound John Cole from Somerset HS a Division 1 prospect. Cole broke the state's single season receiving yards record and also set a new state record for receiving TDs in a single season. He finished with 86 catches for 1,891 yards and 28 touchdowns. The guy that finished second? Chase Hamblin of Williamsburg with 10. Cole also had one rushing TD, five kick returns for scores and had five interceptions.
There could be some smoke to the fire at Seneca HS, where safety Anthony Knott has made a name for himself in a short amount of time. The 5-foot-10, 170 pounder could develop into a speedy cover corner for someone. Another guy that could see a position switch at the next level is Winchester native Tatum Lewis, a 6-foot-0, 210 pound safety from George Rogers Clark HS. Lewis could develop into a sweet linebacker project.
Campbellsville linebacker Shumari Bridgewater is another in a long line of stat hogs at linebacker that the state of Kentucky has produced in recent memory. The 6-foot-2, 215 pounder is a super kid that is always around the ball. A polished offensive player with solid speed, Bridgewater ran for nearly 900 yards and 8 touchdowns as a junior.
One obvious omission to the list is the quarterback position. Recent history in the state of Kentucky in regards to quarterbacks is fairly simple - if they are big time, we'd know about it before their senior seasons. This year seems to be a similar case, with Corbin's Clint Cashen, Fort Campbell's CJ Croft, Madison Southern's Zach Mcguire, Johnson Central's JK Ratliff, Lafayette's Logan Bunch, Shelby County's Alex Matthews, Ballard's T.J. Pryor and Lone Oak's Corey Robinson all bunched together in popularity, having garnered interest, but nothing that would suggest them becoming big-time prospects. The camp scene, much like it did with Fern Creek QB KJ Black in 2006, will help tell alot.