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Michigan, Harbaugh and Kentucky Football Recruiting

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There is a lot of speculation going around about how Jim Harbaugh’s hiring at Michigan will affect Kentucky’s recruiting efforts, particularly in Ohio.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Word on the street is that Harbaugh was trying to lure Kentucky's best recruiter, Vince Marrow, to Ann Arbor. After that news came word that Vince turned down the Wolverines. Whatever the case, if Harbaugh had been successful in securing Marrow's services, Kentucky's recruiting in Ohio would be devastated.

Harbaugh's first order of business will have to be keeping Michigan kids in Michigan. Currently, the Wolverines only have six commitments and only two are from Michigan: 4* WR Brian Cole from Saginaw and 4* QB Alex Malzone from Bloomberg. I'd be willing to bet Michigan tries to flip Detroit's 4* RB Mike Webber back from Ohio State.

Michigan currently has two commitments from Ohio. One is 4* DB Tyree Kinnell from Huber Heights. Kentucky has been wooing him in an attempt to flip him. That effort might be futile now that Michigan has hired Harbaugh. The other is a 2* kicker from Massillon, Andrew David.

Michigan has made overtures to a couple of Michigan de-commits, Marcus Lewis and George Campbell. Campbell is currently committed to Florida State and said during an interview at the Under Armour practice that he has no interest in Michigan. Lewis, of course, is a prime target for the Kentucky staff. He lists Kentucky as his favorite, but he's a fickle kid. He has committed to Michigan and then to Florida. He de-committed from Florida when rumors of Muschamp's firing started. So, right now, UK is his favorite, but he has tweeted that he really likes Miami. What Kentucky has going for it is Tommy Mainard, Jabari Greenwood, Leon Livingston and Kobie Walker. All are from the DMV and Lewis knows them all. Greenwood and Lewis are/were teammates at Gonzaga.

When Mark Stoops arrived, he immediately began recruiting for the 2013 class. With Vince Marrow, he was fighting an uphill battle because he had to build a class in two months, but still managed to sign 23 players.  Only three (13%) of the class were from Ohio.  They were  4* DB Marcus McWilson from Youngstown, 3* OL Kyle Meadows from West Chester and 3* DB Jaleel Hytche from Cincinnati. Michigan signed 27 and nine (33.3%) were Ohio kids.  Six of those were 4 stars and three were 3 star players.

McWilson did not have an offer from Michigan. He chose Kentucky after de-committing from Nebraska. In addition to Nebraska and Kentucky, he had offers from Michigan State and Illinois.

Meadows had offers from Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio, Toledo, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Purdue, Stanford and Kansas. He took visits to West Virginia (unofficial), Oklahoma, Louisville and Kentucky. Michigan did not make an offer.

Hytche took three unofficial visits to Michigan, but never received an offer. He did receive offers from Kentucky, WKU, Kent St., Ball State, Northern Illinois, Boston College, Cincinnati, Indiana, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Toledo and Tennessee.

Of the nine Ohio commitments to Michigan, Kentucky offered 4* LB Michael McCray from Trottwood-Madison, 3* ATH Reon Dawson also from Trottwood-Madison and 4*DB Ross Douglas from Avon.

The 2014 class only had two Ohio signees for Michigan. Neither held a Kentucky offer. Of the 11 Ohio commitments to Kentucky, none had an offer from Michigan, according to 247 Sports.

Impact On UK's Recruiting

Kentucky hasn't had an impact against Ohio State or Michigan recruiting, but they have hurt the other B1G teams, so I don't think Jim Harbaugh will hurt Kentucky's recruiting in Ohio. Harbaugh will have to compete with Ohio State and Michigan State in Ohio. Kentucky? Not so much.

So, here we are with the 2015 class. Of our 17 commitments seven are from Ohio and none hold a Michigan offer. As mentioned above, Marcus Lewis was once a Michigan commit and so was Damien Harris.

I think Kentucky has eight spots remaining for this class. Stoops is looking for a running back (Damien Harris), a wide receiver (Tavin Richardson), another OL (Rob Dowdy), a DB (Marcus Lewis),  three DLs, and a linebacker. Kentucky has a legitimate shot at DL Javon Profitt and Anthony Rush, leaving room for one more. At linebacker, Stoops is trying to flip Josh Smith away from Vanderbilt. If the Cats are successful with the above seven players, one spot remains which should be a DL spot.

However, Kentucky is pushing hard to flip DB Richard Causey who is committed to FAU. If Causey and Lewis don't pan out, the Cats can fall back and get C.J. Amil from Cardinal Mooney. They may sign Amil anyway. Stoops said he wanted to sign 25, but there may be more spots open.

Please remember that this is speculation on my part with no real inside knowledge. There is one interesting tidbit I can give concerning Rob Dowdy thanks to Scout. You can watch an interview here.

Here's a little more speculation for you. Should Kentucky get Harris and Lewis, could they persuade George Campbell to flip from FSU? The only reason I ask is that the three are friends and Campbell said back in the Summer that he would love to play with Harris. The real point here is that we are entering the "crazy" period in recruiting where anything can happen.  Here's some predictions by 247 Sports at the Under Armour practice field.

2016 Recruiting

Before finishing this, I want to pass on developments with the 2016 class. Kentucky commit Drake Jackson has assumed the Drew Barker role in recruiting other players to Kentucky. Jackson and the other five commitments have set up a new twitter account to contact other recruits. Kentucky's commitments so far, in addition to Jackson are: WR Zy'Aire Hughes, OL Landon Young, LB Roland Walder, DB Jordan Griffin, and DB Davonte Robinson. RB Quinton Baker, who de-committed from the Cats, still lists Kentucky as his favorite. WR Keon Wakefield says Kentucky tops his list, according to The Cats Pause.

Others who are showing interest in the Cats are Texas QB Shane Buechele, Georgia RB Elijah Holyfield, Florida RB Tyrek Tisdale, Florida WRs Tre Dixon and Eddie McDoom (love that laast name), DC TE Devante Brooks, Ohio TE Jonah Morris, Georgia TE Sam Letton, Ohio OL Luke Fortner, Alabama OL Tyler Pritchett, Maryland DE Rahshaun Smith, Georgia DL T.J. London, Alabama LB Jamal Couch, Alabama DB John Broussard, Florida DBs Josh Dunn and Trayvon Mullen, Georgia DBs Javon Jackson and Monquavion Brinson, and Ohio DB Tony Butler.  Kentucky is trying to flip Ohio QB Messiah Weaver from Michigan. The Wildcat staff has made contact with 120 players in the 2016 class to establish interest or make verbal non-binding offers. Remember how cool we thought Mister Cobble's name was? We've got another cool name included in our 2016 offer list: Sir Patrick Scott - an unranked DB from Riverdale Baptist in Upper Marlboro, MD.

So far, Kentucky has made contact in one form or another with 29 recruits in the 2017 class. While there has been no commitments, there is interest shown by six players including the following legacy recruits: NR Maryland ATH Joshua Paschal,  5* Ohio OL Josh Meyers and NR Ohio WR Craig Yeast II. Others who are considering the Wildcats are 5* Indiana QB Hunter Johnson, 4* Ohio WR Danny Davis, and 4* Ohio DB Marcus Williamson.

My conclusion is that we (Kentucky) are in pretty good shape on the recruiting front, but we are going to have to see major improvement on the field for the recruiting to stay this way.