The Dynamics of Kentucky Wildcats Football Recruiting in Ohio – Part 3

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

In an effort to wrap up this series, we look at who gets hurt the most when UK gets an Ohio player to commit. In this third part of the three part series, we’re going to look at Notre Dame, West Virginia, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Tennessee and Kentucky.

When you recruit the deep South, you are going head to head with the big dawgs on the porch. For the northerners, dawg is southern slang for dog. The big dawgs lay on the porch because it is covered and gives the dawgs relief from the southern summer afternoon heat. The big dawgs don't let the little dawgs up on the porch. Otherwise the porch becomes too crowded.

Some look to avoid the big dawgs by recruiting lesser players. In the past, Kentucky seemingly avoided an effort to make room for itself on the porch.

The same holds true for Ohio players. It is just a different porch and the rust belt dawgs have more fur because of the awful weather. That's why you see teams with huskies as their mascots. While I consider Kentucky weather cold, Kentuckians rarely have to use electric dip sticks to keep the engine oil from freezing. On to bidness.

Notre Dame:

As a Catholic school, Notre Dame has a national following and it is reflected in their 2013 Spring roster. Notre Dame has 10 Ohio players and another 10 from California on the roster. Twenty-five states are represented on the 81 man team. There are eight from Illinois and seven from Florida.

Of the ten from Ohio, six are from the Cincinnati area. The prospect list is a mirror image of Ohio State and Michigan. The Irish have commitments from eight players, including Rivals 5 star (6.1 rating) Athlete Elijah Hood from Charlotte, NC. They also have four 4 star commitments. I don't think Notre Dame is worried about anything Kentucky does.

West Virginia:

The Mountaineers have 14 Ohio players on their 84 man Spring roster. They have 19 from Florida and 13 from Pennsylvania. Only 9 are from West Virginia. So they are in worse shape than Kentucky when it comes to in-state recruiting.

The WVU prospect list is similar to ours and both are recruiting some of the same players. They are looking at six 4 star players from Ohio and most of those are players Kentucky also wants. They have two commitments. One is from Pennsylvania (3 star) and the other is from Maryland (4 star)


Pitt has nine Ohio players on their roster and only two are from the Cincinnati area. Some of the Youngstown players attend Pittsburgh. 43 of the 75 players listed on the roster are from Pennsylvania. There are five players from Florida.

The Panther prospect list shows efforts will be made in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. There are ten Ohio players on the list. Darryl Long committed elsewhere (cough, cough).

Pitt only has one commitment.


Cardinal Strong has a very large Spring roster of 108 players! That's a lot of walk-ons! The majority of the Louisville roster is made up of Florida (33) and Kentucky (30) players. There are six Ohio players. Four are from the Cincinnati area.

I have no idea how many of the 108 are scholarship players. All but nine of the Kentucky players are from Louisville. We know they could only signed 17 players last year to stay within the 85 NCAA limit. They may have a similar problem this year. It is hard to tell unless you are familiar with the UL program. They seem to have a pretty large prospect list. I'm not sure how many players Louisville can sign for 2014, but they've already received nine commitments. You have to wonder, though, if they'll be able to sign over twenty. The size of that roster leaves a lot of questions regarding recruiting. Maybe they included their # 2 ranked choir team.


This is the school, in my opinion, who gets hurt the most with Kentucky's Ohio recruiting strategy. UC's roster shows 46 Ohio kids with 23 of those from the Cincinnati area. Their roster also includes 14 players from Florida and another 13 from Indiana.

Here's where things get interesting. A lot of people were surprised when UC hired Tommy Tuberville to replace Butch Jones. Tuberville was known at Ole Miss and Auburn to be a very good recruiter. His success rate at recruiting top notch players seemed to fall after he left Auburn. In 2011, his Texas Tech recruiting class was ranked 20th by Rivals. In 2012, TTU ranked 26th. You have to assume that the 2013 class was mostly his recruits. Tech was ranked 51st.. I can legitimately ask if his recruiting prowess, particularly at Auburn, was the result of who he was recruiting for.

His first class at UC, of course, is a shared class with the departed Butch Jones. That 2013 class was ranked # 70 by Rivals. The UC class of 2012 was ranked # 50. There had to have been some de-commitments when Jones left and Tuberville came in.

He is not going after as many Ohio players as Jones did, preferring to stomp around his old southern recruiting territory in Georgia and Florida. Look at his prospect list. His list reflects his preferred recruiting grounds. Will he be successful with that strategy? I haven't heard any buzz coming from the UC program like we are hearing about UK. Tuberville has two commitments. One is from Florida and the other (a JUCO) is from Mississippi.

Cincinnati has other problems that can help Kentucky. They've been shut out of conference re-alignment and joined forces with other schools who are in the same boat. The solution was to form the AAC. Louisville will be in this conference only for the 2013 season before joining the ACC in 2014 and Rutgers will be joining the Big 10 in 2014. The big question is if this conference will be an automatic bid conference in the almost defunct Bowl Championship Series. This AAC seems to be conference purgatory.

With Tuberville's strategy and UC stuck in the new American Athletic Conference, the Bearcats could be in serious recruiting trouble in all sports. This presents opportunity for both UK and Louisville for Ohio recruiting.

Tennessee and Butch Jones:

When Jones left Cincinnati for the Volunteer State, recruiting became much easier. Despite UT's problems which began under Fulmer, initially, and were exacerbated under Kiffin and Dooley, Tennessee still has a brand name that recruits are interested in. The problems UT has endured were the result of on and off the field and Kiffin's recruiting transgressions. UT, during the whole period, recruited well. The coaching has been the problem. Butch Jones has a brand name in Ohio, particularly in the Cincinnati metro area. He signed two from Ohio, one from Cincinnati and one from the Cleveland metro area. It isn't clear yet if he's going to concentrate efforts in Ohio (he has one Ohio commitment) because he's having success elsewhere. UT has four 4 star commitments. Here's the 2014 Tennessee prospect list.


Kentucky's roster of 97 players shows 30 players from Kentucky, 18 from Georgia, 11 from Tennessee, 6 from Florida and 7 from Ohio. There will be significant demographic change coming. In August, we'll see the arrival of 9 new players from Florida, 3 from Kentucky (all good players who are ranked and rated), 3 from Ohio (2 from Cincinnati and 1 from Youngstown). For 2014, UK has 5 commitments, all from Ohio.

UK has a lot of selling points for Ohio kids, including the SEC and the NFL Draft. The SEC owns the BCS Championship trophy and is expected to win it again. The SEC had 63 players drafted and FSU had 7 players coached by Stoops and Eliot drafted. Kentucky is within easy driving distance from all metro sized Ohio cities. Plus, we have our own secret weapon: Mr. Ohio, Vince Marrow.

Here's who I see getting hurt (in order of hurt) if Kentucky gets more recruits from Ohio on a consistent basis:

Potential High Impact:

1. Cincinnati

2. The Big Ten schools with the exception of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State

3. West Virginia

Potential Moderate Impact:

1. Pitt

2. Michigan State

3. Michigan

Little or No Impact:

1. Ohio State

2. Notre Dame

3. Louisville

4. Tennessee

Agree or disagree?

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