It took 26 days longer than expected, but Kentucky didn't mind waiting to finally get its man.

Originally scheduled to announce his college decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio Jan. 4, Elizabethtown (Ky.) John Hardin five-star defensive tackle Matt Elam postponed his announcement until Thursday, where he picked the Wildcats over Alabama.

"I choose to take my talents to the University of .... Kentucky," Elam said before donning a UK helmet. "That was one of the main reasons to stay home and help out my in state program."

Ranked as the No. 21 overall prospect and No. 3 defensive tackle in the country according to 247Sports, Elam not only becomes Kentucky's 28th and likely final commitment in its 2014 class, he is the Wildcats' highest-rated prospect since linebacker Micah Johnson in 2006.

At 6-foot-5, 372 pounds, Elam will combine with Cory Johnson, Jason Hatcher, Regie Meant and others to fortify the UK defensive line for years to come.

Elam's commitment bumped Kentucky's 2014 class up five spots - surpassing Arizona State, Penn State, Oregon and South Carolina and into the No. 19 spot in the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings.

Kentucky's 2014 class is good enough for ninth in the SEC and is up 15 spots from No. 34 in 2013 and 31 spots from No. 50 to finish 2012.

His 247Sports' Crystal Ball was 65 percent accurate in projecting Elam to Kentucky.

Elam's UK commitment is the culmination of a year-long recruitment by Mark Stoops and the UK staff. Elam took his first visit to Kentucky for the Wildcats' Junior Day event last February and his ninth and final visit to UK for an unofficial visit over the weekend. The UK staff also conducted multiple in-home visits.

Even after being named First Team All-State by The Courier-Journal as a sophomore, Elam still managed to fly under the radar until bursting onto the national scene after earning a scholarship offer from Alabama last February.