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Kentucky Wildcats Football: Preparing for the 2012 recruiting class ranking


So today’s post might sound a little bit pessimistic, but hear me out.

UK fans need to prepare themselves for a relatively poorly ranked recruiting class.

Do I think Kentucky is getting low quality players? No, absolutely not. Am I unhappy with the class so far? No, I think it’s shaping up to be our best class ever actually. If you listened to our podcast from 7/8/11, I touched on this a little bit but I thought I would further explain myself today.

There are three main factors that I think are going to hold back this particular class.

Early commitments: When a guy commits to a non-traditional power team early in the process, you can usually bet that player will be rated lower that he would have had if he were to have let things play out more. For example, last year Darrian Miller was being recruited by some of the biggest schools in the country. Alabama had offered him an early scholarship, but he made the call for the Cats before the recruiting season ever really took off and you could argue that he wasn’t rated as highly as he would have probably been if he had attended multiple camps for different schools. He ended up as a four-star prospect on Scout, and an extremely highly rated 3-star guy on all three of the other main recruiting services. Guys like Patrick Towles, Josh Harris, and DeMarcus Sweat might have all been 4-star guys if they had let the recruiting process play out more.

Another big hindrance the Cats will face in recruiting rankings will be the new type of player coach Minter’s defense will require. In moving from the typical 4-3 alignment to a new look with 3 and 4-man fronts, the Cats will end up targeting some players that aren’t going to fit into the rankings. For example, a 3-4 defensive end is not going to be the same type of guy that a team employing the 4-3 defense will target. Rivals ranked their top 35 weak-side defensive ends and their top 45 strong-side defensive ends for the 2012 class and only 12 out of a possible 80 players weighed in at 260 pounds or more. In a 3-4 defense, 260 pounds would be about as small of a player as you could put on the field at defensive end because the position’s role is completely different. The 3-4 defensive end is not typically going to be your combine warrior with blazing forty times and 30-inch vertical jumps. These guys are going to be bigger and stronger than a 4-3 defensive end, but they also won’t have the glamor effect that a 230 speed rusher will have. That doesn’t mean they’re not as important or not as talented, they’re just different types of players. Unfortunately for the Cats and other teams employing the 3-4 defense, these linemen and linebackers are not typically as highly rated. Two good examples of this in this class would be Patrick Graffree and Josh Harris. Graffree is a 280 pound, blue-collar defensive end that is unlikely to wow anyone at a combine, but fits what a 3-4 defensive end needs to be. Josh Harris is so versatile that no one can even figure out what position he plays. ESPN has him listed as an Outside linebacker, Rivals lists him as a defensive back, Scout considers him a running back, and 247sports just calls him an athlete. Its tough to rank a kid against other prospects when no one can even agree on a position for him.

The final factor that I think will hinder the Class’ ranking for 2012 is the lack of “glam” positions this class will include. While there will be plenty of defensive backs and offensive linemen in this class, the recruiting rankings tend to favor defensive ends, wide receivers and running backs. Where UK’s class is likely to be light on these guys, it’s going to be tough to get a top 25 rating. Consider that Rivals only has ten guards in the entire country rated as four-star players and zero five-star guys. Conversely, the same database has 25 running backs rated as four or five-star guys. While these guards are just as important as the running backs, they don’t carry that wow factor that the “skill-players” bring along with them. Its always been that way and it will probably always be the same.

Overall, I still think this will be one of, if not THE best class Kentucky has ever signed. Don’t let the ratings discourage you.

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