Kentucky Wildcats Football: Shooting Stars


Folks are still breaking down Kentucky’s 2015 signing class, understandably so

because since many members who faxes letters of intent to UK were unexpected, new names that fans weren’t expecting a week prior. Some old names resurfaced, a couple of complete surprises happened and a diamond in the rough was unearthed. It was no doubt a disappointing finish to the class after the Cats finished so close to the Top 15 a year ago. But the coaches seemed genuinely exciting about the players that they signed, regardless of stars or other offers. Which begs the question, is the star system overrated? It’s a a battle that has been waged on message boards since such things existed.

The answer isn’t black and white, there’s a grey area here. You’ve heard about how none of the players in the Super Bowl were five star recruits in high school and how Southern Cal seems to sign a top 5 class every year but constantly underachieves. But the simple truth is that the very best teams in college football year in and year out also signed the best high school players and have the highest ranked recruiting classes year in and year out. Obviously there are exceptions but in general the top recruiting teams round out the top 25 in the rankings at the end of the year.

But is this a case of confirmation bias? There is no way that analysts working for Rivals or 247 can watch tape of every high school prospect in their region, let alone the country, so how can they accurately project a kid’s football future? They hold camps to streamline the process but since when is football played in shorts? Film is useful to a degree but how can you weight the competition that someone faces? Anyone who follows these things closely can tell you that a player gets a ranking boost if he commits to a top school. Case in point, Derrick Kelly, a two-star Kentucky commitment that UK fans wondered about in a class filled with four stars. Kelly decommits from UK and gets offers from Florida, LSU and Florida State and suddenly he’s a four-star with a bright future. I know guys who work for the major networks and they all admit that whom a guy gets offers from can have a big effect on his ranking.

With that being said, here is why I like this class: Mark Stoops and his staff have proven to excellent talent scouts. Kelly is a perfect example. AJ Stamps was a two JUCO safety. Alex Stump was nobody when he committed to UK, by the time he flipped to Ohio State he was a four star. In this class Sihiem King got late offers from Florida and Michigan. Deep sleeper Josh Allen started getting interest from several other top programs after committing to Kentucky. He flew under the radar because teams and analysts felt that there must be something wrong since Rutgers hadn’t offered him. UK’s two JUCO defensive linemen weren’t rated highly but you could see the coaches’ excitement when they added Courtney Miggins and Alvonte Bell to the big board. Mississippi State, known for living off of JUCO linemen, wanted Miggins badly. And Bell is a former four star defensive end that the coaches are familiar with from recruiting him to both Florida State and Kentucky, signing him for the Cats once before.

So it’s a crap shoot right? Well sort of, you should feel more comfortable if you sign a bunch of five stars than a bunch of threes, but the difference between threes and fours isn’t that much. Often it comes down to who is actively recruiting that player. This class is solid, Kentucky can win with this class. Makr Stoops always says recruit and develop. Well it’s development time.