Chris Drayton just liked the sound of being a Wildcat.
The Lakeside senior standout looked Kentucky head football coach Rich Brooks in the eye Monday and told him he wanted to play in the Southeastern Conference.
"I straight up told him I was ready to commit," Drayton said. "Nothing corny. I'd heard what I wanted to hear from them."
The selling point for Drayton: Playing time.
"Coach Brooks said they liked me and they felt I could help out their program soon," he said. "He said there would be a chance for me to compete for a starting position right away. I couldn't ask for any more than that."
It wrapped a whirlwind weekend tour of college options for the free safety. Drayton had offers from Kentucky and Louisville before the season.
Tennessee came on late and elevated its interest in him recently.
The speedy Drayton decided he needed a few visual aids to figure out his choice. So he buckled up his 202 pounds in the family SUV and set off on his first college road trip. Ironically, the color of his ride - Kentucky blue.
Drayton visited Tennessee for the Vanderbilt game Saturday. for the first of his three stops.
"Tennessee had a huge stadium and a good atmosphere," Drayton said. "But boy did that final score shock those folks."
His next stop was about 200 miles up Interstate 75 to visit Louisville.
"I got a chance to meet with their coaches and watch them practice Sunday," he said.
Monday was Kentucky's turn. The Wildcats were the first school to offer Drayton this summer.
"Everyone knows they'll be off probation after this year," Drayton said. "I just felt from the opening game against Louisville that Kentucky was a program going in the right direction."
Drayton finished the year with 19 solo tackles and 64 assists. He also played quarterback as a means to import his vast athletic gifts into the offense. He ran for 499 yards and six touchdowns.
"I'm happy with this," he said. "Happy to be with Kentucky."
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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