DREAM FULFILLED: Jacques-Louis has wanted to commit to UK for years

Justin Rowland, Publisher
Cats Illustrated

In some respects, Shocky Jacques-Louis represents a trend. There's an increasing number of football players from Florida, especially skill position players, who are committing to play for Kentucky.

But in other respects, he's one of a kind.

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Athlete

3 STARS

Kentucky
Fort Myers

RR: 5.5

Ht: 6'0.0"

Wt: 170.0

Class: 2018

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POSITION

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NATIONAL

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STATE

Commitment status:

verbal

Kentucky

There probably aren't too many high school freshmen in the state of Florida who go through the next several years of life dreaming of playing football for Kentucky, especially when they have the talent to get looks and offers from SEC and ACC programs much closer to home and with more modern success.

Mark Stoops would love to change that. He'd love to see a new generation of Floridians grow up with a different perception of Kentucky, and his work is an effort, every day, to create that new world for the football program he coaches.

But Jacques-Louis, Kentucky's latest commitment, actually did grow up in Florida dreaming of playing football for Kentucky.

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"I knew I was going to go to Kentucky ever since my freshman year," Jacques-Louis told CatsIllustrated.com. "My mind was made up. It was just a matter of time. My family wanted me to be real patient to see if any other options came up, but there was no better option. I was just thinking about it and it was like, you know, there's no reason to think any longer. I feel like my mind had been made up. People told me to wait but I had no reason to wait."

Anyone who has followed Jacques-Louis' recruitment at CatsIllustrated.com knows that he's not exaggerating. The wide receiver from Fort Myers (Fla.) Dunbar attended two camps at Kentucky prior to the start of this calendar year dating back to much earlier in his high school career.

Then, earlier this year, Jacques-Louis took some real initiative and made it all the way to Lexington for a junior day during a busy time of the school year. Not many Florida players make it to Lexington in late January on the weekend.

After that January visit Jacques-Louis told CatsIllustrated.com that Kentucky was his leader. As recently as April 7th he was still telling CatsIllustrated.com that the Cats were "at the top" of his list. He was a bit of a rarity in this day and age. With so many recruits playing coy, releasing carefully scripted lists of favorites and measuring their every word with reporters, Jacques-Louis simply said, in effect, "I'm a Kentucky guy." And on Friday, he proved it.

So what made Jacques-Louis fall in love with Kentucky, a school that hasn't had the greatest history with the lone SEC program in his own home state and one that's been trying to get its program off the ground for decades?

Relationships, loyalty and first impressions.

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"My (former recruiting) coach (Chad Scott) used to talk about them all the time," Jacques-Louis said. "Coming into high school I never really knew anything about football. He talked about them like they were the best football team. He gave me one of my first D1 offers. I think it was my third D1 offer. I was like, 'Wow. I can't believe they gave me an offer.' Then they stayed in contact with me all three years of my high school career up to now."

Wake Forest was the first Division I school to offer the Dunbar receiver. South Carolina was the second.

The days of Scott recruiting Central Florida for the Wildcats are long gone. The former UK running backs coach and Jacques-Louis' ex-area recruiter is now an assistant coach at North Carolina. He has been succeeded, at least in terms of his recruiting area responsibilities, by Darin Hinshaw, who picked things up with Jacques-Louis without missing a beat.

Earlier this year Jacques-Louis told CatsIllustrated.com that he didn't even know Hinshaw too well yet but, after that visit in January, he already felt like he could talk to the Cats' quarterbacks coach about anything.

"I don't know," Jacques-Louis reflected. "It's just something about him. He's one of the coaches who hit me up and as soon as he got to know me he would never stop texting me. We always had great conversations about things. He's a real cool dude."

As Jacques-Louis has spent more time in Lexington, seeing the football program, the campus and the people at the school up close, his love for Kentucky has only grown.

"To be honest I like pretty much everything about it," he said. "When I went into the town I liked the way everything looked, the way the environment looks. But the facility I went into, that was what really caught my eye."

Jacques-Louis said the only other schools he has spent much time visiting are Florida and Florida State. It might surprise some other recruits and plenty of fans to hear a talented player from the Sunshine State, who has been to the likes of UF and FSU, talk about Kentucky's facilities like that. But it doesn't surprise Kentucky's fans anymore, as the renovations at and around Commonwealth Stadium have been enjoyed as a point of pride for a while now.

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He said that Kentucky's facilities do stack up favorably with those in Gainesville and Tallahassee.

Of course, it didn't hurt that Kentucky made Jacques-Louis a priority while those in-state schools, two of the Big Three, made other players top targets.

"I guess UK showed me more attention. More than UF, more than FSU. When I was there I didn't really feel like a recruit, you know? I was just, I guess I was just 'there.'

Although Jacques-Louis is listed as an athlete on his Rivals.com player profile Kentucky has recruited him to play receiver and nothing else. The three-star prospect plays quarterback, wide receiver and sometimes running back for his high school team, but he'll be one of many young pass catchers from Florida when he gets to Lexington. He'll arrive as a major youth movement at receiver is taking place, with Dorian Baker, Garrett Johnson, Blake Bone, Charles Walker and others leaving after this year.

That helps explain why Kentucky already has three receiver commitments, following Jacques-Louis' decision, and it's only April 21st. And that's even after signing a big class of wideouts in February.

Jacques-Louis spoke more with offensive coordinator Eddie Gran than he did with future receivers coach Lamar Thomas when he attended Kentucky's junior day in January, but that relationship with Thomas is one that he will cultivate in the days, weeks, months and, possibly, years ahead.

There's one other UK-related bond that's already developing for Jacques-Louis. He's becoming good friends with quarterback and fellow commit Jarren Williams, who congratulated Jacques-Louis on Twitter following his decision -- as did Alex Reigelsperger and others.

So what makes Jacques-Louis the player he is, and why should Kentucky fans be excited about what he might bring to the table?

"I've got good vision," he told CatsIllustrated.com. "I don't shake too much. I just find a hole and get to the touchdown lane."

Jacques-Louis told CatsIllustrated.com that his next trip to Kentucky will probably be this summer.

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