With just a week and a half until National Signing Day there is a lot going on with Kentucky football, the staff is trying to polish off a sterling recruiting class with two more impact players and get a jump on recruiting 2015. Then Spring practice will be starting in a few short months. It’s a hectic time and proves that football never really stops. With that being said, here are some of the story lines for Kentucky fans to watch:
-Defensive tackle Matt Elam tweeted today that he will be announcing his college choice on this upcoming Thursday. He will choose between Kentucky and Alabama after visiting each school the past two weeks. Don’t expect any kind of leaks before the announcement, Elam will keep everyone guessing right up until the end. With that being said, I fully expect the choice to be Kentucky. With that being said, I’m not among those who are immediately heaping huge expectations on Elam as a freshman. It will be great if he chooses UK, but he isn’t an instant All-American.
-So what if Elam doesn’t choose Kentucky this week? Mark Stoops recently said that he would like to finish this class with a defensive tackle and an offensive tackle. I’m sure if he has his druthers it will be Elam and Derrick Kelly. But who does Kentucky target if those two go elsewhere? There have been some rumblings about Kentucky getting involved with Cincinnati DT Daniel Cage again. Georgia DT Elisha Shaw is a former target who is back on the market. Otherwise we may see an diamond-in-the-rough type signing. I really believe that UK needs to add a DT to the class.
-Offenisve tackle is another story. I know what Stoops said, but if you don’t land Kelly, then who do you take? The coaches liked Andrew Harell last summer, but not enough to offer him a scholarship. Robert Olson is a guy with some potential but seems like a backup plan. And do you take someone out of need when there is a more talented player at another position available? On a team that simply need an inlfux of talent, I would take the best players available. Especially considering that you have Jon Krok and Nick Richardson in the fold already.
-So who is out there that Kentucky may try to get at the last minute? One name to watch is recent UT decommit Kevin Mouhon, a 4-star linebacker. Former Vanderbilt commit Kameron Uter was also contacted by the coaches. Should Elam choose the Cats, it may put them back in the conversation at least for All American DT Travonte Valentine. The staff is still working to get Ole Miss commit Demarquis Gates on campus if possible before Signing Day.It could just as likely be someone from completely off the radar. Jervontius Stallings could also take the final spot.
-Something else to watch for is coaching attrition. So far this off-season, Kentucky has held on to Neal Brown, Derrick Ansley and Jimmy Brumbaugh after each had interest from elsewhere. Now it’s being reported that running backs coach Chad Scott is being targeted by North Carolina for the same job. Scott played for UK before transferring to UNC to finish his playing career, so there is a connection. I wouldn’t worry too much about this one. Scott met his wife while at UK and she is happy to be home, generally the wife wins out. (see Martin, Tee)
-After just one season, Kentucky was proactive in giving Vince Marrow a raise and a promotion. After serving as the Cats tight ends coach last season, the ace recruiter also added the title of recruiting coordinator to his job and his salary increased from $175,000 to $275,000 with several incentives as well. The deal locks Marrow up through 2016 and makes him the highest paid assistant coach following Kentucky’s three coordinators. It’s great to see Barnhart taking this step now, because of Marrow’s importance to Kentucky’s recruiting efforts.