What four-star WR Barion Brown's commitment means for Kentucky football recruiting

·4 min read

LEXINGTON — The holiday season has started early for Kentucky football.

Four-star Nashville prep wide receiver Barion Brown committed to the Wildcats Wednesday. He picked Kentucky over scholarship offers from many of the top programs in the country, including Alabama, Ole Miss and TCU. Brown was long considered an Alabama lean, but Kentucky gained momentum in his recruitment over the course of his senior season at Pearl-Cohn High School.

Brown would be the highest-rated recruit at an offensive skill position to sign with Kentucky in the recruiting website era. The 247Sports Composite, which averages the ratings of the major recruiting services, ranks Brown as the No. 4 athlete and No. 126 prospect in the high school class of 2022.

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Brown is the eighth player rated as a four or five-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite to commit to UK's 2022 class, joining Charlestown High School offensive tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin, outside linebacker Tyrese Fearbry, linebacker Keaten Webb, wide receiver Dane Key, athlete Alex Afari, offensive lineman Grant Bingham and athlete Destin Webb.

The four-star prospect has a .9478 rating in the 247Sports Composite, which would rank him sixth all-time among UK signees since 2000, behind offensive tackle Antonio Hall, linebacker Micah Johnson, Goodwin, defensive lineman Justin Rogers and offensive tackle Landon Young. Quarterback Drew Barker (.9454) is currently the highest-rated UK signee at an offensive skill position.

The next Lynn Bowden?

It would be unfair to expect Brown to match the production of one of the best playmakers in program history, but he commits to Kentucky with similar hype as Wildcat legend Lynn Bowden.

Like Bowden, Brown starred as a part-time quarterback during his senior season.

"Pretty much, when I get the ball first, a spectacular play is going to happen," Brown told The Tennessean in October. "Either it's me or it's me giving it to the running back. Man, it's just fun being at quarterback."

Entering Pearl-Cohn's playoff loss last week, Brown had totaled 62 carries for 765 yards and seven touchdowns with 25 catches for 372 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw for 37 yards and recorded 27 tackles.

After being ejected from Pearl-Cohn's first-round playoff game due to two unsportsmanlike conduct flags, Brown was suspended for the team's second-round game. He was also suspended from the season opener after being ejected from Pearl-Cohn's final 2020 playoff game.

Kentucky football boosting wide receiver options

Since early October when Kentucky coach Mark Stoops issued multiple public pleas for playmaking wide receivers to join the Wildcats' new offense, Stoops and company have landed three top targets at the position.

Four-star Frederick Douglass wide receiver Dane Key picked Kentucky on Oct. 28. Syracuse transfer Taj Harris pledged to the Wildcats on Nov. 6. Now, Brown gives Kentucky a trio of talented newcomers next season.

Help is certainly needed at the position with junior Wan'Dale Robinson, who is on pace to break UK's single-season record for catches, expected to leave for the NFL draft. Super senior Josh Ali, Kentucky's second-leading receiver, will play for the final time as a Wildcat in UK's bowl game.

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While multiple intriguing options have emerged at running back and tight end for Kentucky this season, the development behind Robinson and Ali at wide receiver has still been concerning.

Freshmen Chauncey Magwood and Christian Lewis played only limited snaps this season. Their classmate, former four-star recruit Dekel Crowdus, missed the entire season with a knee injury he suffered in preseason camp.

Junior DeMarcus Harris emerged as an option for quarterback Will Levis in the second half of the season, but he lacks the game-changing speed offensive coordinator Liam Coen prefers from his outside receivers. Senior Isaiah Epps, one of the faster players on the roster, could return next season thanks to the NCAA's extra year of eligibility, but he totaled just 11 catches this season.

The only other wide receivers who have caught a pass for Kentucky this season are sophomore Tae Tae Crumes (one catch, 10 yards) and junior walk-on Rahsaan Lewis (one catch, 4 yards).

Brown's recruiting hype combined with a lack of proven returning wide receiver options will mean Brown is expected to make an immediate contribution, though he could face an adjustment after splitting time at quarterback as a high school senior.

Email Jon Hale at jahale@courier-journal.com; Follow him on Twitter at @JonHale_CJ.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky recruiting: Barion Brown picks UK football over Alabama

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