By LARRY VAUGHT
Give Kentucky coach Mark Stoops credit for not even attempting to downplay the significance of having LSU sophomore defensive back Kelvin Joseph transfer to UK this week.
Joseph was a top 40 player in the 2018 recruiting class and will be the fourth highest ranked player ever to play for UK when he’s eligible in 2020 after sitting out as a redshirt this season.
“It’s a big get for us. It’s an area of importance for us. We need to sign some corners and some defensive backs. I’m very grateful that he’s on our campus and going to school. He’s going to be able to play next year,” Stoops said Thursday.
“It’s a big get for us. He’s a proven player. He was exceptional coming out of high school. Really played well, got a lot of game experience as a true freshman. We’re excited about having him. Great addition.”
Stoops is about to worry yet whether Joseph will be a cornerback or safety at Kentucky.
“He’s physical (so he could play safety). But he’s got the ability and the speed to play corner. But that’s nice,” Stoops said. “As you know, we like to have those guys that are versatile and you can put an athletic guy inside some at nickel. We’ll just see.”
The Kentucky coach believes the success UK’s secondary had last season and the number of players UK got picked in this year’s NFL draft helped persuade Joseph, a Louisiana native, to pick Kentucky.
“I think that’s a part of it. There’s no doubt. That’s what Kelvin said. Some guys, some areas geographically, they’re in their own world sometimes. I know he appreciated that we had some guys that came here and all five (defensive backs) had an opportunity to play in the NFL. That definitely meant something to him,” Stoops, a former defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator, said.
Stoops also got Florida State transfer Xavier Peters this year. But Peters was a one-time UK commit before he flipped to Florida State. The UK coach said it is a different process recruiting a transfer versus a high school player.
“It generally happens a lot faster. That courtship is much quicker at times. Of course with Xavier we go back a long way with him. But it does happen much faster. I think that’s the biggest difference,” Stoops said.