Yesterday saw Kentucky football hold its second Junior Day event under new head coach Mark Stoops. And like every other recruiting event since Stoops took the reigns, it was chock-full of talent. After holding an event mainly for in-state and nearby prospects, this one was held with out-of-state players in mind.
From various sources it sounds like most of the recruits had a great time. Obviously the game was a good one to visit as it was an exciting overtime win and the crowd was shaking the arena. Supposedly Coach Stoops was really getting into the game and that impressed some players. Some guys who were just interested in Kentucky came away with the Cats as their leader or in their top five. Some of the guys were already talking about playing together in college many with Kentucky as the only school linked to all of them.
Drew Barker made it for his third visit in the past month. He has UK and South Carolina as his leaders, but Kentucky has all of the momentum in his recruitment, they weren’t even on the board two months ago. I haven’t been shy about my opinion that Barker is the linchpin of this class. Getting him to commit could have a domino effect among the highly touted players that UK is recruiting. He has a good relationship with WRs Thaddeus Snodgrass (also visited this weeknd), Braxton Berrios, Derek Kief and Nacarius Fant. His name is instantly recognizable among in-state prospects like Matt Elam (who picked up an Alabama offer) and Reggie Bonnafon. Even 2015 RB Damien Harris.
Speaking of Snodgrass, he left Lexington with Kentucky as his top school and reportedly has moved up his decision date all of the sudden. Penn State was thought to lead for Snodgrass but he canceled his visit there this weekend and came to Lexington. His stock is definitely on the way up. Florida WR Kadeem Goulbourne also moved UK into his top spot. He is a teammate of new Wildcat Alex Montgomery. Ohio DB Darius West , who canceled a Notre Dame visit to see UK, was very impressed and now has the Cats high on his list. Georgia 4* Dante Sawyer, a surprise visitor, tweeted his top 5 schools following his visit and Kentucky was sitting pretty behind only the home-state Dawgs.
Kentucky had several other prospects in town, including what most recruitniks believe their top two targets at tight end. The Ohio duo of Darryl Long and Ethan Wolf seem to be priorities for the staff after only signing JUCO TE Steven Borden to a team that will only have two scholarship players at the position in 2014. Both will be 3 or 4 star players when their ratings come. Wolf visited Louisville earlier in the day, but told Rivals that UK impressed him more. He seemed a little surprised by that. Some of the old perceptions about Kentucky football seem to be wearing off. Long had a similarly good time and was talking to Snodgrass and West about playing together. If Snodgrass is really as high on UK as he seems, that could bode well with Long. He also spent a lot of time with none other than Mr. Drew Barker.
I was excited as anyone when Stoops was hired but I had no idea that these coaches would be able to change the recruiting game at Kentucky the way they have. Barker is the perfect example. The old staff figured they couldn’t sign him and therefore never offered, leaving Barker with a negative view of UK football. Same thing they did with Kyle Bolin. Now Kentucky may have the best odds to land Barker and he is visiting campus and talking up UK to other recruits. Recruits are loving what these coaches are selling right now and it won’t surprise me if the 2014 class fills up early. With 4*s.