4-star CB Jaleel Hytchye commits to UK

When Mark Stoops was hired at Kentucky, it immediately caught the eye of Jaleel Hytchye (Cincinnati/LaSalle). He had the Wildcats among his top group before the coaching change, and Hytchye was ready to drop Kentucky if he didn’t like the hire.

Stoops was a home run for Hytchye, though, and once he heard the news that Stoops got the job he began holding out for a phone call from the new staff.

Once the four-star began talking with Stoops, it was only a matter of time before he pulled the trigger and became Stoops’ first commit as the Wildcats coach.

“They didn’t tell me anything I already didn’t know [about Kentucky],” said Hytchye, who visited Kentucky unofficially four or five times under the old regime. “It was getting to know them as people, and they’re really great people.”

Kentucky beat out Pittsburgh and Tennessee for Hytchye, and the Panthers finished No. 2 for Hytchye. Hytchye might have ended up at Pitt or Tennessee if he didn’t believe Stoops can finally turn Kentucky into a consistent winner.

“It’s a winning staff and they’re bringing in a winning environment,” he said. “... I don’t play football to lose.”

The No. 24 cornerback nationally, Hytchye feels he is a perfect fit for Stoops’ defensive system. He said the staff also told him he has a chance to play early, and he is excited about the opportunity to play in the SEC and play close to home.

Aside from getting one of the nation’s better cornerbacks, Stoops also picked up one of the better players in bordering Ohio. The state is among the top 10 in the country in producing talent, and Stoops is an Ohio native. Under Stoops, Kentucky will make a big push in Ohio.

“He was ecstatic,” Hytchye said of the conversation with Stoops. “I didn’t know I was going to be the first commit and the first commit in Ohio, and that’s where they want to get a lot of recruits.

“I’m honored.”

Hytchye will make his first visit to Kentucky since the coaching change on Jan. 18, which will be an official visit.