UK Football: Will Recruiting Yield Results on the Field?

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images /

Will UK football coach Mark Stoops’ Top 30 ranked recruiting classes ever produce results on Saturdays?

Four of the past five seasons, the UK football program has secured at Top 30 ranked recruiting class according to Will the Wildcats ever produce a season worthy of their talent?

When Mark Stoops took over for Joker Phillips in 2013, the UK football program was in shambles. Kentucky had just two wins, their fewest since 2004. Stoops was brought in to help elevate the program back to where it was in 2006 and 2007. Rich Brooks led those teams to back-to-back bowl wins for the first time since 1951 and 1952. Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant roamed the sidelines in Lexington back in those days.

Stoops has had moderate success over his tenure. This year will mark the second straight season that UK will play in a bowl game, a feat that would have been laughed at five years ago. With an overall record of 26-35, it’s easy to think Stoops has underachieved. However, the cupboard was bare when he arrived on campus. He suffered through a miserable 2-10 first year on the job.

The question now becomes, can all of that talent that Stoops has been able to find on the recruiting trail finally turn into results on the field? Stoops has had highly ranked recruiting classes and highly rated players come to Lexington over the years. The 2018 class is no different. According to, Stoops was able to land three 4-star recruits during the early signing period.

The biggest piece of evidence missing in the search for Kentucky’s lack of success has nothing to do with the Cats. The SEC is ripe with talent, heck, they’ve got two teams in the College Football Playoff. Three teams from the Southeastern Conference landed in the Top 10 for 2018 recruiting classes. Eight teams from the SEC already have higher regarded classes than UK.

This then begs the question, is a Top 30 recruiting class good enough? The SEC generally recruits some of the best talent. However, the SEC has had less success as of late in recruiting. Schools like Clemson, Texas and Miami are returning to prominence and landing top flight talents in the south, a place where SEC schools typically thrive.

The Cats also have the benefit, surprisingly, as one of those most stable programs in the conference. Their have been several coaching changes recently in the SEC which could lead to a hiccup or a revival in recruiting for those programs.

The bottom line is, Stoops needs to continue to recruit aggressively in Ohio and Florida. He still has yet to have a leader like Andre Woodson or Jared Lorenzen during his time at Kentucky. If Terry Wilson can become that leader on offense the Wildcats may be in for a more successful 2018.