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Kentucky Football Pace of Recruiting: January Update

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A macro perspective on Kentucky football recruiting compared with selected others.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Well, for football fans a big day is fast approaching — National Signing Day (NSD) on February 5th. In a mere two weeks Coach Stoops and his staff will be receiving signings for the 2015 class. Some of next year’s players are already enrolled for the spring semester so they can be counted on to be around for year 3. Other players have "committed" but nothing is final until their signed papers are received starting on NSD.

Fans are a bit edgy as Will pointed out last week, coaches are anxious and recruits are having second thoughts. That feeling by coaches and by recruits is pretty much across the nation, not just here.

This prompted me to update my long neglected pace of recruiting charts to see how they reflect the current state of recruiting, particularly with regard to the previous class and with other programs.

As before, the position and signing date are from Rivals while the star rating is taken from CBS’s 247Sports. All the teams have both gained and lost players since the last installment. We shouldn’t be alarmed that some commits have de-committed, all teams lose recruits.

The first chart simply shows how the ‘15 class compares to the ‘14 class with respect to rate of growth and size of each recruiting class with today being the dashed vertical line (Note: Click on chart to open enlarged version in a separate tab).

Pace of recruitng chart 1
Two things immediately jump out at me. First is the long period that has elapsed since our last Yahtzee and the other is that we are 6 recruits behind where we were last year. Going 45 days without a signing seems like something to worry about. (Update to Update: The wait is over with the signing of Westry on January 20th). Last year Stoops went from October 20th until January 21st without a signing — a whopping 93 days. So, just with a limit of one year comparison it seems the pause in signings was nothing to fret over. In addition, the sudden rise in commitments just prior to signing last year was significant. In the 15 days leading up to NSD Stoops there were four commits. Maybe he will repeat that feat.

One fact seems obvious, he isn’t going to recruit just to fill a class, he is assuring a good match between the recruits and UK’s needs while looking for constant improvement. With eight slots still available in this class we could close out NSD with less than 25 players. At this point, Stoops may come up with several Yahtzees in the next week or so, a slew of surprises on NSD or both to fill out the class by February 4th. Then another possibility is filling the class out with JUCOs and select players after NSD. The next two weeks will be a roller coaster ride and be one of the highlights of the off-season.

Note that I have started to include the 2016 class on the chart to point out Stoops has a great head start on the next class. He is continuing on his path for the program and pushing the recruiting cycle further is key to his success with the program.

(What this chart doesn’t show is the rise and fall of the class because I have been removing de-committed recruits entirely from the database. This ebb and flow is partly to blame for the malaise wamarsh described in his post. Rather than eliminate a de-committed player, future charts will include the commit/de-commit for all players as they come and go to get a better feel for the dynamics.)

The next chart compares UK’s recruiting with some of our rivals when looking at numbers of recruits and the rate they are signed. In the last month Alabama and Tennessee have broken the 25 player limit that must not really be a limit, while Louisville has also signed several recruits in the last month. Arkansas continues to add recruits to the same level and at about the same rate as Kentucky.

pace of recruiting chart 2

The next chart shows the running average star rating for the same schools shown in the previous chart. As an adder the Kentucky ‘14 class is also shown. As before, Alabama’s average star rating continues to float around the ionosphere while the remaining SEC schools are closer together. Tennessee’s high average from highly ranked early recruits has now settled in the 3.5 star area while Arkansas then Kentucky are below the Vols. For both Kentucky and Arkansas there is ample opportunity to effect these averages since each have eight slots open. Louisville will likely finish out at a solid 3 as every player they have signed is a 3 star except for one 2 star.

pace of recruiting chart 3

What does it all mean? I have no idea but it will be entertaining to get a glimpse into the future of our team. With a few exceptions, these are the players we’ll be talking about 2 or 3 years down the road.