The first transfer portal window of the offseason officially opened on Monday. We’ve already seen a ton of player movement. Teams are working rapidly to get targets on campus for visits over the next two weeks to close these fast-paced recruitments before Christmas. Kentucky will host a key visitor this weekend after earlier this week it looked like this recruitment could be heading in another direction.
Wide receiver is a clear position of need for the Wildcats this offseason. Head coach Mark Stoops and offensive coordinator Liam Coen are in the market for 2-3 transfer receivers. Perhaps the program’s top option on their recruiting board will make his way to Lexington this weekend.
Donaven McCulley was a four-star prospect in the class of 2021. Playing quarterback for Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence North, the dual-threat recruit was the No. 211 ranked player in the 2021 On3 Industry Ranking and the No. 2 overall recruit in Indiana. McCulley decided to stay home to play quarterback picking the Hoosiers over Iowa, Missouri, Ole Miss, and Purdue.
As a true freshman, McCulley played in seven games during the 2021 season and earned four starting assignments for a struggling Indiana team that lost star quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to injury. The rookie finished the season completing 35 of 82 (42.7%) passes for 475 yards on 5.8 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and two interceptions while also chipping in 193 non-sack rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Heading into his sophomore season, Donaven McCulley made the full-time switch to wide receiver after the Hoosiers made an offensive coordinator change and added Missouri quarterback transfer Connor Bazelak. McCulley would finish the season with 16 receptions on 33 targets with 169 yards and one touchdown.
The former quarterback then took a huge leap in year three.
McCulley led the Hoosiers this season in targets (74), receptions (48), receiving yards (644), and receiving touchdowns (six). This is a bonafide NFL Draft prospect who is one of the top available wide receivers in the transfer portal.
Donaven McCulley was a productive starting wide receiver in the Big Ten who took a big jump between year two and year three. To see where some of that growth was, I dug into some 2023 Indiana offensive tape and focused on McCulley.
Here is my scouting write-up on the true senior with one season of eligibility remaining.
Donaven McCulley (6-5, 200) is a tall and lean X wide receiver. Playing in Indiana’s multiple scheme, McCulley was the clear top passing target for this offense. The boundary wideout is a true red zone threat who can be a big target on slants/glances or provide a huge catch radius on fades. The senior flashes good ball skills but did have three drops in 74 targets as a junior. Vertical long speed is a question mark, but McCulley thrived in contested catch situations. The receiver does not need separation to be open. A dependable intermediate possession receiver who can make tough catches and move the chains. Gave a struggling Indiana offense a true efficiency weapon (62.3% catch rate, 58.4% success rate) in the passing game despite playing multiple quarterbacks. Owns WR1 potential and could develop into a top-100 draft pick.
Kentucky needs more efficiency on offense. That’s true in both the run and passing game. Donaven McCulley could give the offense immediate efficiency and a dependable target at receiver.