Kentucky Wildcats football coach Mark Stoops has got to be happy this afternoon as the Cats picked up a commitment from John Hardin defensive tackle Matt Elam, a four-star recruit.
Elam picked the Wildcats over playing for Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Beating Saban, the football version of John Calipari minus the one and dones, is a big win for Kentucky. Let it sink in for a bit and then start turning the focus towards spring practice.
“It’s a big deal, because Nick Saban has had an easy time going into other SEC states and taking the top prospects out, like Derrick Henry, Landon Collins and Cameron Robinson,” Scout national recruiting analyst Brandon Huffman said. “More often than not, he’ll still do that, but this one is clearly a win for Mark Stoops, because it’s putting a little fence around Kentucky and bolstering the Wildcats roster.”
“It was huge because not only did UK beat Alabama on a big lineman the Tide wanted, it ends up with the top two in the state according to 247Sports Composite rankings,” 247Sports national recruiting director J.C. Shurburtt said. “The state of Kentucky doesn’t always produce a lot of Division I football talent, but it’s important not to let the great prospects leave. Diving further into it, Mark Stoops/Neal Brown were able to get two prospects to say no to two future Hall of Fame coaches. Drew Barker turned down Steve Spurrier and South Carolina and Elam turned down Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. That makes a statement that it isn’t going to be easy to come into Kentucky and land players for the foreseeable future.”
“Elam’s pledge is a huge recruiting win for Mark Stoops and staff as the Wildcats inch closer to a first-ever top-25 finish in the RecruitingNation class rankings,” writes Gerry Hamilton, the national football recruiting analyst for ESPN.
Hamilton also added:
As important as keeping the best in-state talent is signing a potential multi-year starting signal-caller in Barker and adding both impact players and depth on the defensive side of the ball.
The 2014 class leans towards the defensive side, with 15 players of the 28 recruits. This includes three of the best Kentucky players choosing to play at Kentucky: Drew Barker, Elam, and South Warren DT Adrian Middleton.
While the 2013 season can only be described as a disappointment for many, the fact is Stoops needs some time to bring in his players while the Joker Phillips recruits edge closer to graduation. Rebuilding is a 3-4 year project with the 2014 season being Year 2.