UK’s ace with Jason Hatcher could be Bjoern Werner

On a night when the big news was Kentucky basketball’s loss at Alabama, all but lost under the radar was the important state football news that Louisville Trinity defensive end Jason Hatcher hasĀ de-committed from Southern Cal. The 6-foot-3, 250-pounder made the announcement on Twitter.

This sets up probably the first true Mark Stoops vs. Charlie Strong recruiting battle for a marquee player in the state of Kentucky.

Hatcher is scheduled to visit Florida, but his choice could well come down to Kentucky vs. Louisville. Hatcher visited Kentucky on Jan. 11, and the UK staff visited Hatcher the next week. He is scheduled to visit Louisville the weekend of February 1, the last weekend before the national signing day on Feb. 6.

The key player in Hatcher’s recruitment? It could be Bjoern Werner.

Werner is the Florida State defensive end who is expected to be a top five pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Some mock drafts even have Werner listed at the No. 1 overall spot.

And who coached Werner at FSU? Stoops was Florida State’s defensive coordinator the past three years, building a defense that ended up No. 2 in the nation in total defense last year. And Werner’s position coach was D.J. Eliot, who coached defensive ends at FSU and is now Stoops’ defensive coordinator at Kentucky.

In Louisville’s favor, the Cardinals are coming off that impressive Sugar Bowl win over Florida. U of L is expected to be a pre-season top 10 team next college football season, plus Charlie Strong knows a thing or two about defense. He was the defensive coordinator on a national championship team at Florida under Urban Meyer before becoming the head coach at Louisville.

Then there’s Hatcher’s teammate James Quick, the star wide receiver who recently committed to the Cards.

Given Hatcher’s announcement last night, the next two weeks should be very interesting.

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