Are Kentucky high school football players, parents and coaches finally getting it?


Many Kentucky football fans have complained for years that Kentucky high schools produce more talent than is recognized by the four recruiting services. Granted, Kentucky doesn’t have the population size to warrant a lot of attention, but there is talent in the Bluegrass State.

Louisville Trinity and the northern Kentucky schools, like Ft. Thomas Highlands, have figured out that there are certain things you must do to gain recognition for their players. I am using these two schools as prime examples for getting media and recruiting attention because both realize that scheduling is something that puts the school's name out into the public eye. Both cross the river and play teams in the Cincinnati and Hamilton County area of Ohio.

Trinity has gone a step further and plays national powers. The result was a shared mythical national title a couple of years ago. Trinity plays the required number of games with Louisville schools to keep them eligible for the state playoffs, but they also play a national level schedule that keeps the Shamrocks in the news. Trinity plays, perhaps, the toughest schedule of any Kentucky high school team even in a down year like 2013. Here's what their schedule looked like:

8/23/13 - @ Nashville Ensworth

8/30/13 - @ Carmel, Indiana

9/06/13 - @ Indianapolis Lawrence Central

9/13/13 - Cincinnati Colerain

9/27/13 - Indianapolis Cathedral

10/04/13 - Louisville St. Xavier @ Papa John's Stadium

10/11/13 - Louisville DuPont Manual

10/18/13 - @ Louisville Male

11/01/13 - Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller

In the state playoffs, they played Louisville Eastern, DuPont Manual, and Male.

Folks, that is NOT an easy schedule. You can see the results here. Trinity and Ft. Thomas Highlands are tied for the most Kentucky state championships with 22 each. Trinity is a 6A school and Highlands is a 5A school and they often scrimmage each other in the preseason. Louisville St. Xavier and Beechwood come in 3rd and 4th with 12 and 11 championships respectively.

The Highlands Blue Birds also played a couple of Ohio teams in 2013. Here's their schedule:

8/23/13 - Jacksonville (FL) University Christian

8/30/13 - Campbell County @ David Cecil Memorial Stadium

9/06/13 - Lexington Bryan Station

9/14/13 - @ (Elizabethtown) John Hardin

9/21/13 - @ Paducah Tilghman

9/28/13 - @ Covington Catholic

10/04/13 - (Cynthiana) Harrison County

10/18/13 - Covington Holmes

10/25/13 - @ Cincinnati Elder

11/01/13 - (Bowling Green) Warren Central

In the state playoffs, the Blue Birds played (Ashland) Boyd County, (Ashland) Paul Blazer, Covington Catholic, Lexington Catholic and (Shebyville) Martha Layne Collins. This is also a tough schedule for a public school. For the results, go here.

Let me give you one more example. (Miami) Booker T. Washington was dubbed the national champions by Max Preps and USA Today. Take a look at their schedule.

8/24/13 - @ Norcross (GA) (televised on ESPN)

9/06/13 - @ Miami Central

9/11/13 - (Miami) Carol City

9/19/13 - (Miami) Jackson

9/27/13 - @ (Miami) Monsignor Pace

10/04/13 - @ (Las Vegas) Bishop Gorman (televised on ESPN)

10/12/13 - (Miami) Northwestern

10/17/13 - (Miami) Gulliver Prep

10/24/13 - (Miami) Norland

11/01/13 - @ (Miami) Edison

In the state playoffs the Tornados played (Belle Glade) Glades Central, (Ft. Lauderdale) University, Cocoa, and Jacksonville Bolles. Washington was undefeated for the year and you can see their results here.

If you look at the schedules of the above schools, you can see the media exposure given. The Louisville and northern Kentucky schools who play out of state teams, especially teams from Nashville, Indianapolis and Cincinnati grab national attention. The Georgia teams grab national headlines via the Atlanta Journal Constitution and the Florida teams get national exposure through the Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and the Tampa Bay newspapers (St. Petersburg Time, Tampa Tribune). The demographics just don't favor Kentucky high schools unless they play well known schools outside of Kentucky.

So, what's a Kentucky kid to do? All four recruiting services run camps and combines. Parents and/or coaches need to get their kids involved in at least one or two of those camps and combines. None of these, however, allow evaluators from the other services entrance. Also, get your highlight film out to Hudl, Prepforce, or Varsity Preps and send a copy to schools where you might like to attend.

Every Division I college program has their own camps and combines. Coaches and parents need to pick and choose and send their kids to several. They may or may not receive an invitation, but most allow any player to attend for the appropriate fee. Then, there are the open camps and combines that allow evaluators and any media members coverage. IMG and the Miami Dolphins run 7x7 events. The biggest of them all, however, are the Nike camps and combines.

Nike sponsors SPARQ combines, Football Training Camps, the Elite 11 Quartebacks Competition and The Opening which invites the top 162 high school players in the nation "as selected by  after film evaluation plus in-person evaluation at one of our nationwide events." If you click on the links provided, you can get all the information you'll need for participation in the combines and camps.

The Opening Watch List

Nike has released its watch list for the end of the summer combine which includes the Elite 11 quarterback camp. This combine has become the most important of all the combines because Nike and ESPN have teamed up and players who are invited get tremendous publicity. Our own Patrick Towles and Drew Barker competed for an Elite 11 spot in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Kentucky high school players who have made the watch lists are:

Runningbacks: Damien Harris of Madison Southern and Triston Luke of Ft. Campbell

Defensive Backs: None

Linebackers: Emmitt Smith of Warren Central and Eli Brown of Warren East

Wide Receivers: Mikal Ballard of Seneca

Offensive Line: Mason Wolfe of Henderson County

Defensive Line:  None

Quarterbacks: Reese Ryan of Lexington Catholic and Elijah Sindelar of Caldwell County

Note:  To be considered for an invite to the 2014 Nike Football Training Camps and The Opening, please send junior film and a coaches' recommendation to:

- Brian Stumpf (Skill Positions - West, Southeast Regions) -
- Michael White (Skill Positions- Midwest, Northeast Regions) -
- Todd Huber (Linemen) -
- Eugene Jackson (Cornerbacks) -
- Michael Fletcher (Linebackers & Safeties) -

If you click on the links, you'll notice than there are a lot of players with offers from Mark Stoops and his staff. For instance, UK has offered four quarterbacks in one form or fashion and all four can be found in the quarterbacks link and list. Look for Andre Brown, Lorenzo Nunez and Jarrett Stidham in addition to Elijah Sindelar.

I would suggest that Kentucky high school coaches encourage their players to get involved in the Nike events. I would like to think that our high school coaches would want to get their players as much exposure as possible simply because such involvement speaks volumes about their football program. I am a firm believer that if you want to be the best, then do what the best do. I think Kentucky players, coaches and parents are beginning to see that the offers will start coming in if they all work together with dedication to the sport and love for the sport.

After National Signing Day, look for our A Sea of Blue UK football 2015 Big Board.

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