LEXINGTON, Ky. – Two junior college standouts, defensive tackle Cory “C.J.” Johnson and cornerback A.J. Stamps, have signed letters of intent with the University of Kentucky, Coach Mark Stoops announced Wednesday.
“Cory and A.J. were outstanding players on the junior-college level and will help us address needs at their positions,” Stoops said. “They will be able to enroll in January, go through our winter high-performance program and participate in spring practice.”
Johnson will have a clear opportunity for immediate playing time following the departure of starting tackles Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph, along with Tristian Johnson, who was the top reserve at that position in 2013.
Stamps will bolster the Wildcat cornerbacks, a position that had no seniors in 2013 and can use additional experienced presence.
The signees come from schools, ASA College (Johnson) and East Mississippi Community College (Stamps) that finished first and second, respectively, in the National Junior College Athletic Association in scoring defense in 2013. Each player will have two seasons of eligibility remaining.
Kentucky’s 2014 recruiting class now includes seven signees, including five high- school players who plan to enroll in January – quarterback Drew Barker, linebacker Dorian Hendrix, running back Mikel Horton, wide receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass and wide receiver T.V. Williams.
Here are biographies of the new Wildcats.
Cory “C.J.” Johnson, Defensive Tackle, 6-3, 275, Jr-JC, Columbia, S.C. (Chambersburg (Pa.)/ ASA College) – Had a great two years at ASA College in Brooklyn, N.Y., at defensive tackle … First-team All-Northeast Football Conference as a sophomore … Paced ASA College in tackles with 49 stops, including 15 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and a pass breakup … Leading the team in tackles is a rare feat for a defensive lineman … Played in seven games as a true freshman with the Avengers, posting 23 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss, one fumble forced and one fumble recovery … Helped lead ASA to a two-year record of 18-2, including two NFC championships with spotless 5-0 records each season … Helped the Avengers to the first postseason win in school history with a 23-3 victory over the College of DuPage in the 2013 Carrier Dome Bowl … ASA won their last nine in a row en route to a 9-1 record and achieved a final ranking of No. 7 in the nation … Only loss was to Georgia Military College, which advanced to the 2013 national championship game …ASA led the National Junior College Athletic Association in scoring defense, allowing just 9.1 points per game … ASA head coach is Dennis Orlando … A four-star recruit according to Rivals.com and 247Sports.com, while Scout.com and ESPN.com rank him a three-star prospect … Ranked as the 31st-best junior college player in the ESPN.com Junior College Top 50 … ESPN.com ranks him the eight-best juco defensive lineman, while 247Sports rates him the ninth-best at his position … Chose UK over Miami (Fla.) and Texas Tech … “The city of Lexington, the people are great, the fans are great,” C.J. said when asked of his reasons on picking UK. “I got along with the players (during his visit), so I knew Kentucky as the right choice.”
High School: Originally from Columbia, S.C., he played three years at Chambersburg (Pa.) High School under Coach Mark Saunders … Played defensive tackle and end … Had more than 100 tackles his senior season, including a single-game high of 20 stops … Also participated in the shot put on the school’s track and field team … Set the indoor school record in that event … Signed with Temple out of high school before going to junior college.
Personal: Born in Columbia, S.C.… Son of Centuria Johnson and Carl and Angela Johnson … Major is undecided.
Coach Stoops says: “Cory comes from a very successful junior college, won a lot of games. He is a very active, productive player. The fact that he led his team in tackles as a defensive lineman is very impressive. I look forward to adding a big, strong lineman to help at tackle.”
A.J. Stamps, Cornerback, 6-0, 190, Jr-JC, Vicksburg, Miss. (Vicksburg/East Mississippi CC) – Was an outstanding cover corner for East Mississippi Community College, helping the Lions to the 2013 national championship … Lead the team’s defensive backs with 51 tackles, including one sack, seven tackles for loss, one fumble forced … Strong pass defender with four interceptions and nine pass breakups … Returned one pickoff for a touchdown and also returned a punt for another TD … Part of the NJCAA’s No. 2-ranked defense, allowing a mere 9.8 points per contest … Earned NJCAA All-Region 23 honors and was honorable-mention All-America … Was a wide receiver in 2012 for EMCC, making nine catches for 73 yards before moving to defensive back for his sophomore season … Head coach at EMCC is Buddy Stephens … Was teammates with current UK defensive end Za’Darius Smith in 2012 at EMCC and was a player at EMCC when current UK defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh was on staff … Chose Kentucky over Ohio State … Regarding his reasons for tabbing UK, A.J. said, “The relationship with the coaches and players when I visited, also the city of Lexington and the fan support.”
High School: Played safety and wide receiver at Vicksburg (Miss.) High School … First-team all-state as a senior by the MAC and second-team all-state by the Jackson Clarion-Ledger … Senior stats included 114 tackles, two pass interceptions and three pass breakups on defense; at receiver he caught 77 passes for 1,289 yards and 19 touchdowns … Was named one of the top individual performances of the 2011 season by MaxPreps.com when he had 19 receptions for 285 yards and five TDs vs. Northwest Rankin … Final two years he totaled 112 receptions for 2,310 years and 29 touchdowns … Had 210 tackles his final two years of high school, including two interceptions, seven pass breakups and two fumble recoveries … Played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game … Coached at Vicksburg by Alonzo Stevens … Also played basketball (guard/forward) and baseball (right field) … Helped the basketball team advance to the state championship game his junior year … Member of the Key Club.
Personal: Born in Vicksburg … Son of Paulette Stamps and Alvin Stamps, Sr. … A.J.’s uncle, Sylvester Stamps, played college football at Jackson State and for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers … Considering a major in sports management.
Coach Stoops says: “A.J. brings a winning attitude, coming from the junior college national champion team. He is versatile, having played cornerback and wide receiver in high school and junior college. He is playmaker with the physical makeup to be an impact player right away.”