Drew Barker’s commitment to Kentucky Wildcats Football on Friday pout a huge exclamation mark on the class that Mark Stoops is putting together for 2014. The 2014 class is shaping up to be, dare we say it, the best class EVER assembled at the University of Kentucky and it is not going to be close. A lot of people called last year’s class, which featured eight Joker Phillips players and fourteen Mark Stoops players the best ever, and they are probably right. Throw in the fact that Mark Stoops, who has never coached a college game as a head coach before, is recruiting at a 2-10 school which has never had sustained football success and this is nothing short of phenomenal.
One thing that Stoops is doing that he predecessors never did consistently is bring in nationally ranked players. Of the seven player that Stoops has corralled for his 2014 class, four of them are around the top 200 in the country. As a result, the 2014 class is shaping up as a top twenty class and one of the biggest surprises in college football. Stoops recruiting in 2014 is proving that his fast start in 2013 was not a fluke.
As I said earlier, the 2013 class finished up with eight Joker Phillip players, after all the attrition and transition of a new coaching staff. THe eight were arguably, the best of the Phillips class for that year and in reality, not a bad lot of players. All of the players were solid three star players per Rivals. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of the star system for football as it can be so vague. What I prefer is the Rivals Football Rating Index, which assigns a number based on future success. It also helps to show if a player is a “high three star” prospect and how close to a four star. In addition to the 3.0 that Joker’s players received, they had a 5.575 Rivals rating. Once again, this is the best of what Joker had put together for this class and is not a bad effort.
What is more amazing is the fact that Mark Stoops surpassed this in right at three months on the job. Stoops signed 14 players in his short time here and they had a combined star ranking of 3.07. Their Rivals rating was also higher than Phillip’s at 5.635. It’s not a huge difference, but pretty impressive for three months work. Here is what Rivals had to say about the players in the 5.5 – 5.7 range:
5.7-5.5 All-Region Selection; considered among the region’s top prospects and among the top 750 or so prospects in the country; high-to-mid-major prospect; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team
What really makes the Stoops class impressive is the fact there were three four star players and three players that were nationally ranked ( Jason Hatcher, Marcus McWilson, and Z’Darius Smith). All three players got a 5.8 ranking per Rivals which places them in another classification:
6.0-5.8 All-American Candidate; high-major prospect; considered one of the nation’s top 300 prospects; deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team
Throw in the fact that Kentucky had seven other player just below this ranking at 5.7 (two by Joker, five by Stoops) and you can not argue with how effective this class was, especially with the turmoil of a 2-10 season and the coaching change.
Let’s take a look at this 2014 class and how it compared with Joker Phillips first class at Kentucky.