Over the last couple of years, Joker Phillips had started to recruit the state of Florida, but I don’t think the Sunshine State could have been ready for the kind of Kentucky heat Mark Stoops brought on the recruiting trail. As of now, 11 of Stoops first class from UK hail from Florida and you can chalk it up to Stoop’s old connections and don’t expect the full court press to stop.
“There are a lot of great players that come out of Florida. It’s probably the way it fell because of our relationships with some of them. So I don’t know if it would be the exact percentage in the future, but I’m not going to put any limitations on it,” said Stoops. “There is a lot of talent down there but we’re going to work extremely hard to hit everybody we can within a four-, five-, six‑hour drive from Lexington.”
Chris Hays, Orlando Sentinel recruiting coverage coordinator, said he saw a “major push” from Kentucky this season in Florida that only intensified after Stoops, the former Florida State defensive coordinator, took over at UK.
“Stoops has a name to perk up the ears of players,” Hays said. “Kentucky did make a push here early. They got Blake McClain on board early and it was obvious they were trying to come into Florida and get things going like Iowa State has done. Look at Louisville with Charlie Strong’s connections and that roster and what they have done. Coming to Florida is a trend you are seeing more and coaches can be successful here getting great players because there are a lot of them.
“With Stoops, kids here are buying into his rah-rah philosophy of being part of a big turnaround at Kentucky. Pop Warner football is huge here. Kids start paying young and all buy into football.”
Now that the dust has settled from NSD, here is a look at the complete roster by positions with the incoming freshmen added. Use it to get a jump on the next season of NCAA Football on the XBox or to try to map out the position battles for this summer.