Tennessee twins Destin and Keaten Wade committed to the University of Kentucky on Friday, kicking off what could finish as a banner recruiting weekend for Mark Stoops’ program.
Keaten Wade, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound outside linebacker — is considered a top-20 player at his position in the 2022 class and is thought of as a top-200 prospect by 247Sports, ESPN and Rivals.
Destin Wade (6-3, 205) plays quarterback but is rated as an “athlete;” he projects most favorably as a defensive back at the next level. Rivals considers him as a four-star player while 247Sports tabs him as a three-star prospect in its ranking. ESPN ranks Destin as the No. 280 player in the country.
Both play for Summit High School in Spring Hill, Tenn. They helped lead the Spartans to their first state championship in December. Their final four consisted of Tennessee, Louisville and Virginia in addition to the Wildcats.
Their announcement gave Kentucky four commitments who are considered four-star prospects by at least one recruiting service in the class of 2022. They joined Grant Bingham, an offensive tackle from Johnson Central in Paintsville, and Jeremiah Caldwell, a four-star athlete out of Michigan (and who this week picked up an offer from the home-state Wolverines).
That quartet could soon be joined by Kiyaunta Goodwin, a Louisville native who’s making his decision Saturday. If Goodwin joins the fold, UK among eight commitments would have more four-star players pledged than it signed in its 18-player class last year.
Walt Wells, now the head coach at Eastern Kentucky University, was the Wade brothers’ main point of contact while he was on Stoops’ staff in Lexington; defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale has since been their lead recruiter. One of their first unofficial visits prior to the COVID-19 pandemic was to UK.
“They did the measurements on them, and their measurements got out, the arms, their length and all that stuff, so that’s kind of where all this blew up I think,” said Brian Coleman, Summit’s head coach. “Then you put on the film and you get excited about that, too. Coach Wells started it and they’ve just hung with ‘em the whole time.”
Coleman said early on that Keaten jumped out among scouts as the better prospect in part due to apprehension about Destin’s ability to play quarterback. As a self-described “Wing-T guy,” Coleman had doubts about how he would be able to maximize his potential. During his sophomore year he was mostly a run-first quarterback but as he progressed throughout last season, Coleman was able to unleash in the passing game; he finished with 37 total touchdowns, 19 passing and 18 rushing, and accounted for nearly 3,000 total yards of offense.
“We’d throw it a little bit, quick-read stuff, but the more he’s developed? We have changed our whole offense,” Coleman said. “He’s changed my philosophy. It made him better, made me better, made the team better.”
How much more he can develop between now and enrolling in college will determine how realistic it is that he can throw passes at the next level. Destin recently told Volunteer Country that he’s working on his accuracy and footwork this offseason.
Kentucky recently lost its most-coveted quarterback prospect, Owensboro High School star Gavin Wimsatt, to Rutgers, and there’s not a clear answer as to whom could fill the spot in the class if UK wants to add a signal caller. Destin, at a minimum, could offer some flexibility in that department.
“I think that’s all he really wants, is the opportunity to play quarterback and if something happens and he doesn’t later, he’d be happy with that,” Coleman said.
Keaten’s offer sheet is a little longer than Destin’s, and includes LSU, Michigan and Oklahoma. Clemson also showed interest in him. He’s a natural defender who can put his hand on the ground on the end and deliver in pass coverage, Coleman says.
“A lot of people could use him as a strong safety or a spur (a term for a hybrid linebacker; UK calls it a jack),” Coleman said. “He can edge rush, he’s got the moves, but is also very athletic, enough to play coverage in the flats or even deep third (downs), I’d imagine.”
Keaten broke his foot prior to last season and, in consideration of his recruitment, Summit’s staff decided to ease him back into the rotation. He only played in three games as a junior, and was absent for the Spartans’ playoff run until the semifinals and championship game. In his brief appearances he racked up six tackles, four for losses, three sacks and recorded a touchdown reception.
This fall Keaten will likely play running back and outside linebacker for Summit. Destin in addition to quarterback lined up at safety during last season’s playoffs, and may do so in big moments this year, but Coleman is hesitant to make it a full-time thing given his value on offense.
Summit, which opened ahead of the 2011-12 school year, hadn’t before produced a single football player that had garnered the level of excitement the brothers have delivered on and off the field. Hype over their Friday announcement rivaled that of the state championship lead-up, Coleman said.
“It’s been pretty wild, especially with two of ‘em,” Coleman said. “That’s the closest to anything we’ve ever had here, and that I’ve been around as a high school coach.”
Kentucky’s other 2022 commitments
Grant Bingham, offensive tackle (Paintsville, Ky.)
Jeremiah Caldwell, athlete (Belleville, Mich.)
Treyveon Longmire, athlete (Corbin, Ky.)
Andre Stewart, defensive back (Snellville, Ga.)
Jackson Smith, kicker (Danville, Ky.)