CBS Sports: Kentucky finishes with 22 signees in 2019 class

LEXINGTON, Ky. (CBS Sports) — Kentucky football’s 2019 class wrapped up with just one signee on National Signing Day. Three-star cornerback MJ Devonshire from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania became the 22nd member of Kentucky’s class when he signed with the Wildcats on Wednesday morning.

“Pleased to announce the addition of MJ,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said. “Really good player, has great size, great speed, very versatile player who can play offense. He can play defense. We needed him. We needed to add another athlete to the class, and really pleased to announce MJ joining us. He's got -- like I said, he's got really good size. He's all of six foot now, getting thicker, getting heavy. Very good basketball player, very good athlete, and pleased to announce him to our class.”

Four-star athlete Devonta Lee and three-star cornerback Jay Ward -- both of whom took official visits to Kentucky -- signed with LSU. Lee, a native of Amite, Louisiana, had long been considered a lean to the Tigers. He was high school teammates with Kentucky quarterback signee Amani Gilmore and had been recruited for several years by wide receivers coach Michael Smith, but landing his signature would have been a major upset.

As for Ward, Kentucky entered the day as the favorite. The Georgia native committed to Kentucky in the summer but backed off the pledge in November when LSU extended a scholarship. Ward had been a backup plan for LSU since then, but a spot opened when Christian Williams flipped his commitment from the Tigers to Miami. Ward joined a class that signed five defensive backs, including the nation’s top cornerback in Derek Stingley.

Ward’s decision to not attend Kentucky is a blow to the class. In terms of numbers, Ward was not a necessity. Devonshire’s commitment gave Kentucky six defensive back signees. Still, Ward would not have just been a luxury either. Kentucky lost its three top cornerbacks from last season and has virtually no experience returning. The Wildcats are in need of good players, and by all accounts, Ward was one of the top defensive backs left in the south. It’s likely Ward would have had every opportunity to contribute as a freshman.

As it stands, Kentucky did nearly all of its damage in the early signing period. Every player who was committed at that time signed, meaning Kentucky’s coaches could spend their time adding to the class. Devonshire is the only one who signed, but recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow compared the two signing periods to dinner and dessert.

“I look at it like your Mom cooked a great dinner,” Marrow said. “ You ate it in December and now you’re just waiting on the dessert. I got most of my (sic) full in December. We missed on a pie or a piece of cake, I’m still good with that. You’re battling now with schools that are national brands. You’re going to win some and you’re going to lose some. It just so happened our luck went the other way.”

Kentucky had the No. 34-ranked class nationally and 12th best class in the SEC as of Wednesday afternoon.

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