On December 2, 2012 Coach Mark Stoops was officially announced as Kentucky’s head football coach. He quickly assembled what appears to be a great coaching staff that is known for their enthusiasm, passion, attitude and relentless recruiting. They came together with only 2 months until national signing day and identified some top tier recruits and started bringing them in for visits. Kids that normally wouldn’t consider Kentucky, were now excited about the program and the new coaching staff. They raved about what could be; they raved about the enthusiasm of the coaching staff; they raved about the new offense and the new defense. The coaches relentlessly pursued the players they most wanted and surprising to Kentucky fans, they landed some of them. The first to commit to Kentucky was the number one rated Junior College strongside defensive end and 4 star prospect, Za’Darius Smith; and it grew from there. Highly regarded Junior College cornerback Nate Willis committed. CB Jaleel Hytchye was seemingly in love with Kentucky and it showed when he committed. They flipped 4 star Marcus McWilson who had previously been committed to Nebraska. They held on to weakside defensive end Alvonte Bell and most surprising to me, they flipped 4 star Jason Hatcher from USC to Kentucky. Offensively, they got commitments from WR’s, Alex Montgomery, Javess Blue, Jeff Badet and most importantly, Kentucky prospect Ryan Timmons. Also, much needed running back JoJo Kemp pledged his services to Kentucky as well. Along with some other prospects that were already committed, this class was rated 28th nationally according to Rivals. com.
It makes you wonder what this staff could have done if they had been here a full year. Well, the 2014 recruiting class is already showing promise. 4 star weakside defensive end, Denzel Ware committed on February 2nd. On March 22nd, Huber Heights, Ohio linebacker, Dorian Hendrix gave his verbal commitment. The coaching staff is in pursuit of many high profile recruits and are focusing on their need positions, Wide receiver being one of the highest. They have offered quite a few but feel really good about players like, Thaddeus Snodgrass and Derek Kief. Braxton Berrios is one of my favorite WR’s and will be visiting soon. Blake Bone and Demarre Kitt are two others to keep an eye on. One position to follow will be quarterback. Everyone already knows the story but Drew Barker is THE QB that this coaching staff wants. They have not offered another and will not offer another until Drew makes his decision which should be in the next 3-4 weeks. It has been well publicized that after Drew’s visit to South Carolina, Kentucky sent 115 handwritten letters to his home. They have made it clear to him that he is their number one priority at any position. At running back they want to focus on a bigger, hardnosed guy who can get the tough yards and also a smaller scat back. Tony James fits the bill at scat back while players like Mikel Horton, Adam Choice and Justin Jackson would be considered as bigger backs. My favorite here is Mikel Horton. Tight end’s Ethan Wolf, Darryl Long and Bryce Dixon are guys to watch. It’s been said that the coaching staff would like to bring in about 5 offensive lineman. 4 star tackle Nick Richardson likes Kentucky and the coaches feel good about him. The staff has had high praise for Tackle Ja’Merez Bowen and Guards Corey Matinez and Jarrett LaRubbio. Defensively, look for Kentucky to try and flip inside linebacker Delvin Purifoy from Florida State. Also watch ILB, T.J. Posey. At outside linebacker, 4 stars Shaun Dion Hamilton and Jacob Pugh are one’s that the staff want along with 3 star Nico Firios. Defensive backs are also a priority this year so watch players like, CB’s De’Eric Culver, Nicholas Ruffin and Nigel Patten. Safety’s, Jamal Adams, Darius West and Mike Edwards. The coaching staff will want to take at least 2 Defensive Tackles and they have made Kentucky prospect Matt Elam (a Alabama target) a top priority. I would love for them to land Elam and Florida 4 star prospect, Anthony Moten.
So, in closing I would like to say that I am ecstatic about the future of UK football and can’t wait to see who comes on board next. If everything works out right, we could see Kentucky’s first ever top 15 recruiting class. This coaching has a passion and a drive that we have not seen in Kentucky (except from the fans) and it is about time we get a group like this who can raise this program to levels never seen here before.