Kentucky's Football Recruiting is Heating Up

Darius Fullwood, UK 2015 commit, shows how to beat a blocker and get to the QB. - Student Sports

A couple of weeks ago, I asked “Where’s the Buzz?” Within a few days, George Asafo-Adjei committed to the Wildcats. That was a tipping point. The activity signaled that things may be heating up.

On Saturday, June 28th, Jabari Greenwood and Darius Fullwood made a joint commitment to the Cats. The fact that Greenwood went to Fullwood's home for the joint announcement created a buzz around the Big Blue Nation and reverberated nationally. The announcements notified the Washington DC area that Kentucky and assistant coach Tommy Mainard have become major players, much like Vince Marrow is in Ohio. Another significant factor in the Greenwood/Fullwood commitments was the outstanding recruiting effort of Kobie Walker with some help from Matt Elam.

I think the buzz question has been answered. These three commitments took Kentucky from 28th in the Rivals team rankings to 18th. Anytime you're in the top 20 of anything, you're doing well.  However, that 18th national ranking has to be taken in an SEC context. Holy Cow, we're #9!

For some added perspective, look at the other four in the five power conferences. If Kentucky were in the ACC, we would rank 6th. Louisville, for what it's worth, ranks tied at 56th nationally (tied with Virginia and San Jose St.). That places them tied with Virginia at 11th in the ACC. While Louisville is celebrating becoming a member of the ACC, they are not doing very well recruiting so far as a power conference team.

If Kentucky were in the Big Ten, the Cats would be ranked behind Penn State, Ohio State and Northwestern at the #4 spot. If Kentucky belonged in the PAC12, only USC would rank higher. If Kentucky were in the Big 12, Kentucky would rank first. Yet, here we stand in 9th place in the SEC.

For the 2012 recruiting cycle, Kentucky finished at #63 with an average player rating of 2.88. In December, 2012 Mark Stoops was hired and things began to change immediately. For the 2013 class, he and his staff jumped the ranking from 62nd in December to 29th with an average player rating of 3.05. The new 2014 freshman and JUCO class are just now coming on campus and they ranked 17th with and an average player rating of 3.32. The boys in blue are currently running a 3.33 average for the 2015 class.

Kentucky's current status of 18th going into the summer camp season sets up some interesting possibilities before the August enrollment period. There are major camps coming up in July. First, is The Opening this weekend and then there is Kentucky's Friday Night Blue Lights camp on July 19th. In addition to the camps, Kentucky has had players coming to campus for unofficial visits almost every weekend. Just this past weekend, several players (and their coach) from Olney, Maryland's Our Lady of Good Counsel were in Lexington. You can follow them on Twitter or visit their website.

Aside from National Signing Day, perhaps the most important date for all of college football is August 1st. That's when the written offers go out that commits the schools to specified players. After those letters arrive in the mail, "flipping season" begins with the accompanying de-commitments.

Those who were permitted to commit earlier in the year, but don't receive the written commitment from the school, will have some decisions to make. Even if they receive that letter, they can still change their minds. The schools, however, cannot. The school is bound if a player with a written offer commits. Some players will make their decisions before the high school football season(s) begin while others will wait until after the season. They may announce at the Under Armour or Army All-American games. Others will wait until the last minute before National Signing Day in February.

Another thing I find interesting is some recruits want to commitment, announce the date they plan to commit, and then postpone the announcement. If you read between the lines, this usually means that they didn't have a committable offer from the school of their choice. The smart ones are those who postpone their announcement. Others, however, may have committed publicly and find out later on the offer they thought they had wasn't a committable offer. One this year involved the Florida Gators. If you'll recall, Kentucky had a player publicly commit and the staff wouldn't accept his commitment. These are sad and embarrassing occasions for the kids because they occur due to mis-communication or misconstrued listening. Some people hear only what they want to hear. The great thing about youth is the ability to rebound from disappointment fairly quickly.

Folks, we fans are in for a roller coaster ride between now and February if this class is going to be better than last year's. The players believe it will be a better class if you've read the Matt Elam, T.V. Williams and other player tweets. They seem to have had the buzz we've been seeking all along. With the last three recent commitments and the performances of Mason Wolfe (top five linemen at the Nike Columbus NFTC) and 2016 recruit Drake Jackson (also a fop 5). You can watch both on this video.

Also, three UK commitments are listed in the Ohio top 50: C.J. Conrad, Alex Stump and Larry Wells. You can read about them at Bucknuts.com.

The buzz is there for discerning recruiting fans, but it just hasn't been as gaudy so far as last year. Consider it a timing difference. Stoops and Company are working on more Rivals five star players than any previous staff and they are getting close to landing a couple. Just imagine the impact if they get one. Here's who they're working on: RB Damien Harris (KY), DE CeCe Jefferson (FL), DL Daron Payne (AL) and, DL Rasheem Green (GA). The Cats have also offered (DL) Trenton Thompson (GA), RB Jacques Patrick (FL), LB Malik Jefferson (TX), DE Josh Sweat (VA). That's eight available five star players and while Kentucky is not the listed favorite, most of them have shown some degree of interest. We've also offered Kevin Toliver (LSU commit), Chuma Edoga (USC commit) and Mitch Hyatt (Clemson commit).

So, yeah, there is some buzz. The full scale just hasn't yet come to the surface. Be patient, Wildcat Faithful, be patient.

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