On Thursday a Tallahassee newspaper wrote about the former FSU assistant coach’s climb to the top of preseason rankings with a crop of top recruits. That former coach is none other than Mark Stoops, UK’s new head football coach.
The top of the preseason polls and top recruits is no new phenom to UK fans, as Kentucky basketball is more frequently than not nabbing the top 10 players and sitting atop the polls; but football is new territory.
The fans in this “basketball state” have been nothing less than ecstatic over football news. UK is currently #3 in the Rivals 2014 team rankings after T.V. Williams committed last Tuesday, just one ahead of Stoops’ former team, the FSU Seminoles. SEC rival Tennessee currently holds the top spot, followed by Texas.
Of course realistic fans realize that Kentucky won’t stay on top of the charts. UK has 19 commits, and the limit is 25. None of our verbals are 5-star recruits. Compare that with schools like Florida and Auburn who have 11 and 9 commits respectively, they have a little more ability to climb.
So what’s the big deal? “It’s not basketball; it’s football,” Rivals national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. “So for them to be No. 3 on our list is unprecedented.” At the end of last season Kentucky was 2-10 and the rear-end of most SEC football jokes. Kentucky football even did what most fans thought would never happen: they had a brief stint at #1 on the Rivals rankings. Without playing a single game Kentucky has moved themselves to the top of the rankings…and top recruit’s lists.
If you weren’t playing Yahtzee in Lexington before Stoops, grab some dice and hop on the bandwagon now. For those unfamiliar: “Yahtzee” is basically a code word coaches started for a new commitment, and the recruits are adopting it. Quarterback Drew Barker is becoming infamous for tweeting that he’s “ready to play some Yahtzee” on the day of a big commitment. T.V. Williams, a 3-star receiver chose Kentucky over Nebraska and Oregon State as well as others. At his announcement, he held up a shirt that said “CATS #Yahtzee” on it.
Stanley “Boom” Williams, the #1 running back for his class choose to announce his commitment by just tweeting the word “Yahtzee!!” The fans are loving this game of Yahtzee it seems; Boom Williams said “I think UK has the best fan base in college sports. Twitter went crazy once I committed and so much love got shown from the BBN, it was crazy! I gained over 3,000 followers and the tweets went through the roof…” Darius West, the #15 safety nationally, said they fans on twitter were a huge part of why he committed. “It’s the best fan base in the world with the most support, they will always be in your corner. They affected my commitment big time,” West said. Talk about winning the Internet…
(below: Stanley Williams and Darius West)
Stoops said he didn’t mean for the BBN to take over the Internet, however. “It really wasn’t planned that way,” said Stoops, “That’s really not who I am or how I try to operate as far as grabbing headlines like that or being gimmicky in some way; it’s really not. I’m really trying to be a guy to just work extremely hard and grind things out, just improve the program every day and recruit every day and some positive things just happened.”
Stoops also said the work doesn’t end on the recruiting trail, fans can’t forget we have a season ahead- without this top 3 recruiting class. “We need to improve. We need to improve drastically,” Stoops said. “We can’t get into worrying about any results or numbers of wins right now because we’re nowhere close to where we need to be. The 2014 (recruits) aren’t members of the 2013 team, so that’s what they have to see. “They have to feel and know and believe in what we’re going to do.”
So far so good. The players Stoops recruited for 2014 seem to be buying into the system fine. Boom Williams said, “I committed to UK because I wanted to be a part of the BBN family and help their program get back on top. I don’t think Kentucky is just a basketball school, I think everyone will know it’s a football school after we shock a lot of people these next seasons…” on the staff he said “the staff is unbelievable and I can’t wait to be coached by them! I committed because I believe in what they’re doing and I know its going to turn UK football around.” West said, “the family atmosphere and coaches are what drew me in and made me commit, there is no other class like ours out there.”
Kentucky still has lots of ground to gain before they create a whole new reputation for themselves in SEC football, but they are definitely on the right path. With recruits and commits making visits to Lexington later this week look out for some more #Yahtzee to be played! For students who didn’t know, our season tickets go on sale Wednesday at 9 AM, you don’t want to miss this season! If you want to follow Boom, Darius and any other commits mentioned in here on Twitter their handles are: