DeMarcus Sweat is a freshman making an impact.
John Clay has this article out from yesterday that deserves some comment. This is the basic premise of his piece:
Kentucky isn't going to sign the typical five-star player. Not now. Not yet. To compete, it needs to sign a Wesley Woodyard, a Randall Cobb, a Danny Trevathan, a player that because of size or location or pure bad luck goes unnoticed but turns out be a player of note.
This very thing has been discussed on here over and over. Kentucky needs to locate those guys, and there are plenty of them, that the SEC recruiting system as it is currently constructed overlooks. There is almost no way Kentucky can compete with the likes of Alabama, LSU, Florida or Georgia for the stud recruits that everyone covets, the players that can literally step in to a starting spot in the SEC and be effective. There are only so many of those guys available every year, and all the big names are on them from the time they are out of junior high. Kentucky knows about that level of recruiting in a general sense, as that's how John Calipari does it in basketball.
But not in football. And it looks like Maxwell Smith was just the kind of player that UK can use to build a competitive team. So Clay is saying Phillips & Co. needs to do more of this. Maybe, though, they already have.
Let's run down some of the guys who look like they may be good enough to play at the top of the SEC. Phillips has successfully tempted two players who originally signed with Alabama, Daryl Collins and Justin Taylor, to Lexington after the Tide ran out of scholarships. Nick Saban doesn't recruit players he doesn't think can play, so we know these guys are already the kind of recruit Kentucky needs to be competitive.
Dyshawn Mobley is another player that looks like he slipped through the SEC recruiting sieve. DeMarcus Sweat was recruited and offered by West Virginia and Tennessee. A.J. Legree was offered a scholarship to the Miami Hurricanes. All these guys (other than Collins, who red-shirted from last year) are freshmen this year, and all of them are likely to see time, perhaps even significant time. Daryl Collins has caught 7 balls this year and is 3rd behind Aaron Boyd and La'Rod King in receptions.
So perhaps the Wildcats have exactly what Clay says we need. Obviously, they all need to mature enough to become productive -- this is the SEC after all -- but if this year's offense so far is a sign of things to come, Kentucky may well be back on the sustainable path that many of us thought we got off of last year.
Perhaps I'm being too optimistic, but it's more fun than the alternative.