By LARRY VAUGHT
If Louisville Moore defensive end J.J. Weaver was making his college choice today, it would be Kentucky.
The 6-6, 235-pound Weaver had a lot of scholarship offers, including Georgia, Mississippi, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. He eventually narrowed his choices to six — Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Purdue, Tennessee and Cincinnati.
Weaver, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.78 seconds, will make his college choice during a ceremony at Moore High School Friday afternoon at 3:30 in Louisville. He now says it is down to Louisville and Kentucky.
“Right now it is Kentucky, but by Friday I don’t know,” Moore said.
He’s scheduled to get a visit from Louisville athletics director Vince Tyra and Louisville interim coach Lorenzo Ward tonight before he makes his verbal commitment Friday in advance of the mid-December national signing date.
The four-star defensive end is ranked among the top five players in Kentucky and top 200 players nationally.
“I can’t rush this decision,” Weaver said. “This will really change my life forever and my family’s life.”
He’ll also buck a growing trend to graduate in December and enroll at UK in January. Instead, he wants to enjoy all of his high school senior year.
“I want to get bigger and faster and then I can go and really impress the coaches when I get on campus,” Weaver said. “I just want to enjoy everything and get better at the same time.”
Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops, recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow, defensive coordinator Matt House and linebackers coach Brad White all visited Weaver Monday night — just two days after Kentucky smacked Louisville 56-10 to end a 9-3 regular-season for UK and 2-10 season for Louisville.
Weaver insisted the margin of UK’s win over Louisville won’t impact his decision.
“Teams beat teams all the time. Last year Louisville smacked Kentucky,” Weaver said. “I just want a chance to play early and have a great career. I also just want to stay close to home to play college football.
“The UK coaches are all great guys. Coach Stoops is special. They told me I am the guy they need and that (linebacker) Josh Allen leaving opens a spot for someone. They told me I am a guy they need because with Josh leaving, they need somebody to play there and I could have a chance to do that.”
Louisville fired head coach Bobby Petrino in November. Speculation has been that Purdue coach Jeff Brohm, a Louisville native and former Louisville player/coach, is the coach the Cardinals want. Weaver admits Louisville not having a head coach complicates his decision some, but also knows he has to look at more than who the coach is when he makes his commitment.
“It’s about me. Louisville is going through what I have been through in high school with different coaches,” Weaver said.
Moore still went 11-2 this season and lost in the Class AAAA quarterfinals to Taylor County. Weaver had 70 tackles and one fumble recovery.
“I like being different. I could have gone to Trinity or St. X. A lot of schools wanted me to come play but I wanted to stay at Moore,” Weaver said. “We had different coaches about every year. That’s why I know I can’t go to school (college) just for the coaches because they can all leave for different reasons.”
That leaves him pondering whether to stay in Louisville and help the hometown Cardinals rebuild or go to Kentucky and help Stoops continue progressing after three straight winning seasons and bowl bids.
He’s friends with UK commits Wandale Robinson of Western Hills, UK’s only four-star commit, and Shawnkel Knight-Goff of Louisville Doss, a three-star recruit.
“Me and Wandale are like brothers. I hang with Shawnkel a lot,” Weaver said. “But I am my own person. I also know a lot of guys going to Louisville. I just have to do what is right for me.”
My guess — J.J. Weaver becomes a Wildcat and gives Stoops his 21st commitment in the 2019 recruiting class.