Kentucky Wildcats Football: Same Old Song


After Kentucky added yet another Ohioan to the 2016 class that everyone expects to blow up, I had a conversation with a friend about Kentucky’s recruiting strategy this time around. There’s an especially heavy Buckeye flavor to it so far. Basically the question I got was whether any of these guys would hold firm if an offer can from the home state team. My answer: not likely. Not likely many would stick or that Ohio State would offer. But the real question was whether Kentucky will continue to offer fast rising prospects in Ohio early, get them on board, then hold on for dear life until Signing Day. My response: yeah basically.

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It’s understandable to question the strategy following last year’s wave of decommitments and the knowledge that the reigning national champions are waiting in the wings to swoop in and steal players late. But that same strategy brought Kentucky Mikel Horton, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Dorian Baker, the list goes on. The only prospect that OSU wanted that UK has signed so far was defensive end Tymere Dubose. Ohio State coaches inquired about flipping Dubose should they offer but were turned away by his high school coach. The reality is that Ohio kids are likely going to grow up Ohio State fans, so it will be tough to hold of the Buckeyes if they come calling, even when Kentucky starts winning again.

But the point I made about taking early commitments from Ohio is that most commitments ultimately stick, statistically. So if there are ten players that you think are talented enough to take an early commitment from, that you think will garner bigger offers down the road, then you take all ten of them anyway. Even if half of them flip, you just gained five players that Kentucky doesn’t traditionally sign. That’s a winning formula.

Not that Mark Stoops and his coaches think that way, a big part of the recruiting revival that has happened at UK has been the swagger and confidence this staff brings to the recruiting trail. They really believe that they can go up against anyone in a kid’s living room and they have won more battles than they should. They aren’t taking Jaylin Bannerman’s commitment and hoping that Urban Meyer doesn’t offer, they take it and build a bond to keep that recruit in the fold. That’s the kind of recruiting that lands the Hortons etc. despite a slew of great offers.

It’s a stressful plan for fans who follow recruiting every day, but the overall track record is impressive and has led to a drastic change to the Wildcats roster. I think this cycle will be another banner year for the staff after the Summer evaluation period finishes up.

Next: Kentucky Wildcats Football: Half Full

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