In-person recruiting is finally back and Kentucky is wasting no time bringing in top talent to check out what the Wildcats have to offer.
AJ Hoffler, a four-star defensive lineman prospect from the class of 2023, took an unofficial visit to Kentucky on Thursday, the first he’s taken by himself as a high school student and the first since before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down recruiting last March. Early rankings from 247 Sports have the 6-foot-5, 245-pounder tabbed as the 227th best player in the country and one of the top 50 defensive linemen from his class. Hoffler helped break the theoretical seal on in-person visits, taking a trip to Lexington just two days after Dane Key stopped by for a quick look around.
The unofficial visit to Kentucky was the first of many for Hoffler, who popped into Georgia Tech on Friday with plans to take more unofficials to South Carolina, Michigan State, and Kansas State this month. The ‘Cats getting him on campus first is no small nugget, either. Led by defensive line coach Anwar Stewart, Kentucky and its coaching staff made a great first impression on the rising high school junior.
Hoffler, who plays his high school ball at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, GA, arrived at campus around 10:00 a.m. on Thursday and went straight to a photo shoot where he was able to put on a college uniform for the first time as a recruit. While there, he experienced another first, finally meeting Coach Stewart face-to-face before going on a tour of the campus and the football facilities. Hoffler said he and Coach Stewart spent an hour breaking down film and talking Kentucky Football.
“It was great,” Hoffler told KSR on Friday about his visit to UK. “[Coach Stewart] was talking about traditions of Kentucky Football and the defense and the numbers they’ve been doing. I didn’t know they were top three defense in the SEC. I met Josh Paschal and Darrian Kinnard. I met with both of them and talked for a few seconds.”
— AJ Hoffler (@yungajh) June 3, 2021
Hoffler said that Coach Stewart would have him play with his hand in the dirt on the defensive line as a field-side five-technique, which is the same position he plays at his high school. This is typically the position where the most athletic rusher is placed.
The new football facilities were one aspect of the campus that caught Hoffler off guard a bit. He added that it was nicer than he expected, along with the entire campus as a whole. The friendliness of the coaching staff also stood out to Hoffler. All-in-all, it was exactly what Hoffler was hoping for in his first unofficial visit.
The floodgates will swing open later this weekend, though. June 6 is the opening day of Kentucky’s camp schedule, which will bring in prospects of all ages to Lexington from all across the country.
There is no such thing as an offseason in college football.