October 27, 2012; Columbia, MO, USA; Kentucky Wildcats running back Raymond Sanders (4) fumbles the football after a tackle by Missouri Tigers linebacker Will Ebner (32) during the fourth quarter at Faurot Field. The Missouri Tigers defeated the Kentucky Wildcats 33-10. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Football: The Missouri Model


WBN - Nightcap

With today’s news that Ohio wide receiver Dorian Baker had committed to Kentucky, the Wildcats are holding strong with the seventh ranked class in the country according to Rivals.com. Of the Cats 24 commitments, there are eight 4*s and 15 3*s. Rivals only takes into account a team’s best 20 recruits in compiling their scores. At this point it’s hard to see UK falling out of the Top 15 unless there is just a mass defection, which seems unlikely with this particular class of players.

It’s a stark difference from anything we have seen at Kentucky. When the Cats have been good, they have been well-coached overachievers who fought every snap with players who were superior. This year they aren’t very good but they are fighting hard and the coaching seems to be improved. But as much as I love all of our players, there simply isn’t enough talent or leadership on this team to win very many football games. And where there is talent, there are some lingering bad habits and attitudes left over from the past. You can see it on Mark Stoops’ face every week, he is frustrated because he doesn’t have enough talent to work with.

Well it looks like that is about to change. The 2013 class was a big step forward for Kentucky, 12 players from that class have already contributed minutes this season. Eight of them are already what I would consider major contributors to this team. If you extrapolate that to next season, you likely have another nine from the 2014 class. The best part about this class is that it addresses areas of need. The 4*s will likely all compete for jobs immediately, outside of Boom Williams and Mikel Horton. But those two should play a lot as well, UK just rotates skill position and Braylon Heard has lit up practice all year.

So what’s my point? My point is that Kentucky may be good much sooner than anyone expected. Not SEC Champs good. But maybe bowl game good. Then with what should be another strong class and some seasoning on the current roster, 2015 could be a big year for the Cats. If you don’t believe it, look no further than Missouri. After some success in the Big12 the Tigers floundered during their first year of SEC play but now are in the driver’s seat to win the division. Missouri’s roster doesn’t boast much more talent, ratings wise, than Kentucky’s. Their recruiting classes have been mostly comparable for the past five years. So if the Wildcats can reel in three straight Top 30 classes, one being Top 10-15, why can’t they contend for the same? Alabama and LSU rule the SEC West with an iron first most years, but parity has overtaken the East. It won’t last forever, but this is the time when a team can ascend to be a contender when others finally fall back.

 

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