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Dec 1, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles defensive coordinator Mark Stoops reacts with defensive tackle Demonte McAllister (97) after he has had the cooler dumped on him. The Seminoles defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 21-15 to win the ACC Championship at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Stoops: A Savior of Programs

The Kentucky Wildcats football program hasn’t seen a lot of wins over the past three years, but an amazing recruiting class in 2014 could help the Cats get back into the bowl season.

As defensive coordinator of Florida State, Mark Stoops helped oversee the resurgence of the Noles, who’ve now been to back-to-back BCS games and just claimed the BCS National Championship with a roster full of players Stoops recruited and developed.

Prior to his arrival in Tallahassee four seasons ago, the ‘Noles ranked 108th nationally in total defense. In 2012, they ranked second — and only Alabama allowed fewer points in the regular season.

Stoops’ revamped Florida State unit wasn’t the first overhaul he’d made. As DC at Arizona under then-head coach Mike Stoops, Mark joined his brother and helped those Wildcats become one of the best defenses in the nation.

The Wildcats ranked 109th nationally in total defense upon Stoops’ arrival as DC in 2004, but were a top-25 unit in each of the coach’s final two seasons in Tucson.

That’s led to his recruiting success at Kentucky, as players believe they can come here and be part of rebuilding the UK program while getting the best coaching and development possible to give them the best chance of making it to the NFL.

Bow, Stoops is on the verge of assembling one of the greatest recruiting classes the program has ever seen in Lexington, and the best overall prospect may be committing to UK Thursday.

For now, UK’s class comes in at No. 13 in the latest team rankings. That would be the highest finish to a UK recruiting class ever since Rivals and other major online recruiting services emerged. 

But there is one player left on Kentucky’s board who could help it rise even higher, and that’s Elizabethtown defensive tackle Matt Elam.

Ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the state of Kentucky, per, Elam is considering staying close to his old Kentucky home, but the Alabama Crimson Tide are also in hot pursuit of him.

Coaches from both staffs visited with Elam last week as he plans to announce his commitment live at his high school at noon ET on Thursday.

UK badly needs to keep Elam in-state and bolster their thin defensive tackle unit after graduating starters Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph.

The Cats also lost Tristan Johnson to graduation, and he was the first backup off the bench to come in for Cobble or Rumph whenever they needed a break.

Elam could come in and compete for playing time next year, and beating the likes of Alabama would be a huge win for a program looking to rise in the SEC.


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Tags: College Football Kentucky Wildcats Mark Stoops

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