Kentucky Football: The Ever-changing Demographics of Wildcats' Recruiting

USA Today Sports

Since Mark Stoops has come on board, recruiting has switched to an emphasis on Ohio and a greater effort in Florida, all the while maintaining the efforts in Georgia. Captain Obvious would say this new staff UK has hired a staff that has far more energy than any of the recent regimes, but they also have a much larger wallet, thanks to UK’s increased emphasis on football.

Kentucky's 2013 Spring Roster, which includes walk-ons, doesn't reflect this new emphasis on Ohio, or Florida,... yet.

31% of the current roster is made up of Kentucky players. 19% are from Georgia and 11% are from Tennessee. Players from the Cincinnati represent 1% and the rest of Ohio represents 6%. That is about to change.

With a couple of exceptions (Z. Smith and R. Phillips), the players on this roster are recruits from the Brooks and Phillips coaching regimes. I hope to show you that Kentucky football recruiting has been borderline schizophrenic in the geographic sense since 2002.

What you will see below is, in my opinion, a discombobulated continuity of recruiting efforts, depending on who the Recruiting Coordinator was at the time. Kentucky recruiting has not been consistent and that's putting it mildly. All star ratings are Rivals ratings.

I am unable to determine who the Recruiting Coordinator was in 2002 and my memory fails me. The UK Media Guide doesn't name the coach. Kentucky recruiting suffered in 2002 and 2003 due to NCAA probation.

Coordinator (Brent Pease?) Unknown 2002 UK signed 1-4 star, 1-3 star, 11-2 stars and 1-1 star. States of the 15 signed were: Kentucky (5), Florida (3), Georgia (2), California (1), Ohio (1), Georgia (1), Texas (1) and Oklahoma (1).

Ron Caragher 2003-2005 - From 2003 through 2005, UK signed 47-2 stars, 22-3 stars, 5-4 stars and 1-NR. States represented were: Kentucky (24), Georgia (14), California (6), Ohio (5), Florida (4), Utah (3), South Carolina (3), and 1 ea. from Louisiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama and Kansas.

Joker Phillips 2006-2008 - During this period, UK signed 43-2 stars, 28-3 stars, and 5-4 stars. States represented were: Kentucky (17), Georgia (15), South Carolina (10), Tennessee (8), Florida (8), California (4), Virginia (4), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2), and 1 each from Texas, Louisiana, Oregon, Alabama, Mississippi and North Carolina.

Randy Sanders 2009-2010 - Under Sanders, UK signed 16-2 stars, 34-3 stars, and 4-4 stars. The following states were represented: Kentucky (10), Georgia (13), California, Tennessee, South Carolina (5 each), Florida, Ohio, Texas (3 each), Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana (2 each), and 1 each for Kansas and Virginia.

Chuck Smith 2011-2012 - Smith may have been a default coordinator after Tee Martin left for USC. During this period UK signed 6-2 stars, 42-3 stars, and 2-4 stars. Players were signed from the following states: Kentucky (9), Georgia (15), Tennessee, Florida (5 each), Alabama (4), Indiana (3), Ohio, North Carolina (2 each), and 1 from South Carolina, Illinois, Mississippi, Virginia and Louisiana.

Recruiting has improved since the end of the NCAA probation. The numbers of NRs and 2 stars have declined while the number of 3 stars has steadily improved. The number of 4 star players signed has been spotty and inconsistent. Under Phillips, we saw an increase in South Carolina players and it has fallen off since he was promoted to Head-Coach-In-Waiting. The number of Kentucky players signed has fallen off as UK has attempted to improve the talent level. Football in The Commonwealth just can't support a good football team and UK's record proves it.

Georgia has been our bread and butter and we made minor improvements in the recruitment of Florida players. Tee Martin was able to make a little noise in Alabama. You can see that there hasn't been much success in Ohio for whatever reasons. That is strange when you consider how close Cincinnati is. The only real consistent areas have been Kentucky and Georgia. The problem with Kentucky is a distinct lack of high school talent. What's there is good, but our best has either gone to Louisville or left the state. Below are the top Kentucky players from Scout's high school site for each year and where they signed. The star ratings are Scout's:

2002 - Two 4 stars - one signed with Tennessee and the other wasn't signed by a BCS school. Two 3 stars - one signed with Notre Dame and the other signed with West Virginia.

2003 -Three 4 stars - Michael Bush signed with Louisville and Andre Woodson and John Logan signed with UK. Four 3 stars - one signed with Tennessee, one signed with Wake Forest, one signed with Illinois State and the fourth wasn't signed by a BCS school.

2004 - Two 4 stars - Brian Brohm signed with Louisville and Micah Jones signed with UK. Three 3 stars - one signed with UK, one signed with Louisville and the third wasn't signed by a BCS school.

2005 - Five 4 stars - Three (James McKinney, Cory Zirbel and Brandon Logan) signed with Michigan, one with Alabama (Brandon Deadrick) and Earl Heyman signed with Louisville. Seven 3 stars - four signed with Louisville, one signed with Texas Tech and two (Curtis Pulley and Alfonso Smith) signed with UK.

2006 - One 5 star - Micah Johnson signed with Kentucky. Two 4 stars - Leonard Gordon signed with Notre Dame and Josh Minton signed with UK. Seven 3 stars - Three signed with Louisville, two signed with UK and Tennessee signed one and one signed with NC State.

2007 - Two 4 stars - Doug Beaumont and Victor Anderson both signed with Louisville. Nine 3 stars - Three signed with UK, one signed with Louisville, one signed with Virginia, one signed with West Virginia, one signed with Auburn, one signed with Michigan State and one did not sign with a BCS school.

2008 - Three 4 stars - Winston Guy and Aaron Boyd signed with UK and Brandon Newman signed with Notre Dame. Six 3 stars - two signed with UK, one signed with Louisville, one signed with Colorado, one with Florida, and one with South Carolina.

2009 - One 4 star - Justin Green signed with Illinois. Nine 3 stars - five signed with UK, one with Ohio St., one with WKU, one with Boston College. If you'll recall, Jerrell Greene committed to UK who withdrew the offer after Greene got into some trouble with the law.

2010 - Nine 3 stars - three signed with UK, three with Louisville, one with Tennessee and one with Notre Dame.

2011 - Four 4 stars -Darrian Miller signed with UK, DeVante Parker signed with Louisville, Jon Davis signed with Illinois and Lamar Dawson signed with USC. Nine 3 stars - three signed with UK, three with Louisville, one with Indiana, one with Central Florida and the other did not sign with a BCS school.

2012 - One 4 star - Zeke Pike signed with Auburn and is now at Louisville. Ten 3 Stars - four signed with UK, one with WKU, one with Michigan, one with Arkansas, one with Navy, one with Cincinnati and one did not sign with a BCS school.

2013 - 5 Star James Quick signed with Louisville. Five 4 Stars - Jason Hatcher signed with UK, Hunter Bivin signed with Notre Dame, Kyle Bolin signed with Louisville, Ryan White signed with Vanderbilt, and Dalyn Dawkins signed with Purdue. Purdue? Five 3 stars - two signed with UK, one with Kansas, and one with Toledo.

Louisville and Northern Kentucky produce a majority of Kentucky's talent, but not all. While Stoops may want to keep Kentucky's top talent in UK's fold, that just isn't going to happen as long as Charlie Strong is successful at Louisville. Louisville players will trend toward the local city college. It is, however, possible to "own" the rest of the Commonwealth.

Kentucky, under Rich Brooks, had to develop lesser talent because of probation and he was successful at it, but that same lack of talent didn't translate into a winning program in the SEC or bring a major bowl game for Kentucky.

With the hiring of Mark Stoops, we are seeing drastic change in recruiting. The numbers of offers jumped, particularly in Florida where there were a whopping 15 for the 2013 class. The previous high for Florida was 5 in 2011. While the class that was signed for 2013 wasn't spectacular, the class was immediately improved when Stoops was hired. UK went from 62nd to 29th in the Rivals team rankings. That's' a 53% improvement!

What was spectacular were the results in the amount of time (approx. 70 days) with which he had to work. He signed three-4 stars (which had not even considered UK before his hire.), 14-3 stars, and 2-2 stars. He signed players from the following states: Florida (9), Kentucky (3), Ohio (3), and 1 each from Kansas, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, and Arizona. Georgia wasn't represented in a UK recruiting class for the first time in years. Only eight players from Georgia were offered. Contrast that with the 31 Georgia offers (in one form or another) in this recruiting cycle.

Now that he has a full recruiting cycle, we can already see improvement over this past year and previous years. We already have commitments from three Ohio players and can expect more. With the commitments of Darryl Long and Tymere Dubose, Kentucky now has five commitments, all from Ohio. Apparently, more are coming.

I think we can expect more Florida players as well and a return of players from Georgia. The quality of our recruits is also on the rise. The 2013 class was our best since forever (1976-1977 seniors?) and the 2014 class is shaping up to be better. How can any UK fan not be happy?

Next up: Who are we competing against in Ohio recruiting?

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