This weekend is shaping up to be another big one for football recruits on their official visits, with at least five players ranked a 4* prospect by one of the main scouting services planning to come to town and take in the basketball game against LSU. Another five visitors are 3* players, of which likely only two hold committable offers right now.
Getting picked up by a limousine, attending a game in Rupp Arena, watching the crowd go wild for the team and meeting Coach Cal can being a pretty memorable experience for a kid. Sitting in the new state-of-the-art lockerroom has been a hit this year. But nothing beats Kentucky’s greatest strength: the fans.
The first big recruiting event of the Stoops era really impressed recruits when they walked into Rupp and saw fans holding up signs with their names and faces on them. Fans chanted some of their names during the game. Several players commented on how big of an impression that made on them. They talked about how amazed they were when fans recognized them, how this didn’t seem like a basketball school.
Numerous recruits have learned just how passionate Kentucky fans are about football via social media, especially Twitter. Each time a recruit is offered a scholarship or rumored to have interest in the Wildcats, they suddenly get a massive influx of followers. And while some fans need to be careful how they approach a potential student-athlete online, (Any recruiting by non-staff members is technically a recruiting violation. A rule that has never been enforced to this point, likely because it would be nearly impossible to track everything) Big Blue Nation has made that basketball school tag look like a misnomer recently.
Here are the players that fans need to be familiar with for this weekend:
Jarran Reed 4* JUCO DL (Ole Miss Commit)
Marquez White 4* DB (Florida State Commit)
James Hearns 4* LB (Florida Commit)
Marcus McWilson 4* S (Nebraska Commit)
Taj Williams 4* WR
Corey Smith 3* DE (Tulane Commit)
Keith Kelsey 3*LB
Donald Gage 3* WR (Houston Commit)
Stafon McCray 3* RB
Nick Haynes 3* OL
As you can see, Kentucky is working to flip some players who are committed to other teams. This is to be expected when joining the game as late as this staff has. It’s a testament to the staff’s drive that they haven’t simply tried to hold on to prior commits and pick up scraps other programs have left behind. They have come out of the gate aggressively pursuing high-level players, selling them on early playing time and the opportunity to build something in Lexington, to be a hero of sorts. And while UK fans are accustomed to getting the payers that they want from watching Calipari work, they should be satisfied with one or two of the 4* players that have visited lately. In truth, even if the coaches strike out on the 4* guys and fill up the class with 3*s, Kentucky is still light years ahead of where they were mid-November.
***Update*** It appears that current commits Justin Day, Ramsey Meyers and Austin MacGinnis are going to take their official visits this weekend as well.