Kentucky Wildcat Athletics: Mark Stoops Not Afraid to go Toe-to-Toe with the Big Dogs

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Dec 2, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops spoke to reporters during a press conference at the Nutter Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday was the day that Kentucky Wildcat football fans have been waiting for their entire lives. Mark Stoops ushered in a new era, and ended the day with a class that is ranked #28 overall according to Rivals. He convinced players to come to Kentucky over schools like USC, Florida, Ohio State, Texas, Nebraska, etc… and he did it all with just two months on the job.

I said that in the first press conference,” Stoops said, “that we would go toe-to-toe with the best schools in the country and with the best schools in the SEC. We’re not going to take a back seat to anyone. We’re going to recruit hard. We will win our fair share.”

He backed that up by signing eight players rated as four-star recruits by at least one major scouting service. The Cats’ last three classes combined produced that many. Along with flipping the 6-foot-3, 250-pound Hatcher from the Trojans — and Louisville — UK also got safety Marcus McWilson to switch from Nebraska.

Mark Stoops has talked the talk and walked the walk thus far. I can’t wait to see the product he puts on the field.

Photo Credit: 247 Sports

Trinity High School’s Jason Hatcher was the big get of the day. After about a month of speculation, Hatcher officially decomitted from USC on Tuesday and committed to the Wildcats on Wednesday. It goes without saying that now Kentucky has an “in” to the football factory that is Trinity thanks to Hatcher commitment.

Hatcher was impressed with Mark Stoops and DJ Eliot:

Hatcher said much of the speculation of the past three weeks wasn’t true. He said he spent a lot of time studying the record of Stoops and Eliot during their time at Florida State and came away impressed.

“I believe in what those guys were selling,” Hatcher said. “I believe in the way they coach defensive ends. … I believe we can get this program back to where it needs to be.”

And don’t listen to the sour grapes being spewed by Louisville fans about Hatcher. They are saying he is lazy, a Prima Donna and that he wouldn’t get playing time at UofL and that is why he chose Kentucky. None of that is true. Hatcher was not even considering Louisville in the end, it was between USC and Kentucky, and the fact is that he dropped them a while ago. It had nothing to do with work ethic or playing time. He wanted to go away to school and USC was too far. Kentucky provided the perfect in between for him. It was close to home but still far enough away.

Louisville wanted him and they wanted him bad.

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